Abbeville

A sporting city

Abbeville loves sport and its colours shine on the field. Local clubs have excellent results in several disciplines: handball, football, table tennis, athletics, hockey or swimming. Abbeville clubs are frequently chosen to host national and European championships, a mark of respect both for their know-how and for the quality of their facilities. With 74 clubs for a town with a population of 25,000, Abbeville is one of France’s most sports friendly town in its category. Several high profile events are organised every year like the Sport Festival, le Parcours du Coeur, Ronde Picarde, a gran fondo involving more than 2,000 cyclists, the Bruno Willecocq athletics challenge or the Picardie motor rally. In 2013, a new swimming centre will open its doors. It is a state of the art equipment, dedicated to sport and leisure alike. The 50 metres outside pool respects international standards and will be easily convertible into two shot-course pools. Every year in July for the last few years, a dozen young cyclists from disadvantaged families ride some 1,000 km on the Tour de France route. This year, Bernard Hinault is the patron of the initiative, which starts on July 5.

The new swimming centre in construction - © DR
No previous stage
Pop: 24,200
Sub-prefecture of the Somme (80)Economy : Port activities.
Specialties : Abbeville rhubarb, Ponthieu endive.
Motto : Semper fidelis (always faithful)
Sport : EAL Abbeville handball (L1), SC Abbeville (hockey)
Celebrities : Jacques Boucher de Perthes (archaeologist), Knight of La Barre, Max Lejeune (politician), Alfred Manessier (painter),
Festivals : festival of Bird and Nature, Nights of blues. 

Timeline

  • 383

    Emperor Magnus Maximus lands from Britain near Abbeville.
  • 6th century

    Foundation of the St Riquier abbey, which gave its name to the town (abbey ville).
  • 992

    King Hugh Capet fortifies the town and hands it to his daughter Gisele when she marries the count of Ponthieu.
  • 1095

    Guy I, count of Ponthieu, founds St Peter’s abbey.
  • 1272

    Abbeville and Ponthieu pass under English rule against the will of the town’s citizens. France and England will dispute for the city for more than two centuries.
  • 1421

    Abbeville passes to the Dukes of Burgundy.
  • 1477

    Louis XI definitely brings Abbeville to the French crown.
  • 1568

    In the Wars of Religion, Protestant François Cocqueville plunders Ponthieu. He is arrested and beheaded in Abbeville.
  • 1665

    Implantation of the Royal Manufacture of the Rames, led by Dutch drapers Van Robais.
  • 1766

    The knight of La Barre is executed for blasphemy.
  • 1918

    Abbeville hosts two Franco-British conferences.
  • 1940

    The old town is partially destroyed by bombings.
  • 2001

    Abbeville is flooded like most of the region.
Abbeville train station in 1905
No previous stage
Pop: 24,200
Sub-prefecture of the Somme (80)Economy : Port activities.
Specialties : Abbeville rhubarb, Ponthieu endive.
Motto : Semper fidelis (always faithful)
Sport : EAL Abbeville handball (L1), SC Abbeville (hockey)
Celebrities : Jacques Boucher de Perthes (archaeologist), Knight of La Barre, Max Lejeune (politician), Alfred Manessier (painter),
Festivals : festival of Bird and Nature, Nights of blues. 

Abbeville and cycling

The gateway to the Bay of Somme had never previously welcomed the peloton of the Tour de France. The Tour de Picardie is used to passing through the coastal towns that the riders will visit and has also stopped off in Abbeville on several occasions and in particular in 2011. But the race that is the most regularly hosted by the town is the Tour de la Somme. In 2005, Lars Boom, the young Dutch cyclo-cross rider who went on to make a name for himself, achieved one of his first road victories there.

Abbeville is also the birthplace of 1985 French champion Jean-Claude Leclercq, who won the Fleche Wallonne in 1987 and rode six Tours de France. Another Abbeville rider was Eric Lalouette, who took part in the 1976 Tour de France. His son Kevin is also a pro rider.  

In 2011, the Tour of Picardie started from Abbeville - © A.S.O.
No previous stage
Pop: 24,200
Sub-prefecture of the Somme (80)Economy : Port activities.
Specialties : Abbeville rhubarb, Ponthieu endive.
Motto : Semper fidelis (always faithful)
Sport : EAL Abbeville handball (L1), SC Abbeville (hockey)
Celebrities : Jacques Boucher de Perthes (archaeologist), Knight of La Barre, Max Lejeune (politician), Alfred Manessier (painter),
Festivals : festival of Bird and Nature, Nights of blues. 

What to see

St Vulfran collegiate church

While it was never completed, the St Vulfran collegiate church is one of the most remarkable monuments in the flamboyant Gothic style, fitting particularly well with the central Renaissance great door. Its two 55 metres high towers, elegant facade and porches adorned with remarkable statues are must-sees. It was built on the site of an older church in which the count of Ponthieu brought the relics of St Vulfran in 1058 and founded a chapter with 26 canons.

Belfry - Boucher-de-PerthesMuseum

Its construction started in the early 13th century, making it one of the oldest belfries in France. Since 2005, it features on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The belfry now houses an aisle of the Boucher-de-Perthes museum, named after a renowned prehistorian of the 19th century. The museum displays paintings, sculptures and works of art dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries as well as an important archaeological section and local birds.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Alfred Manessier stained glass

The church of the Holy Sepulchre was built in the 15th century. The whole of the stained glass windows were conceived by Alfred Manessier, one of the great non-figurative artists of the 20th century. The light filtered by the stained glass bathes the church in an exceptional atmosphere. 

Carmel

A large wall, a carriage gate, a small entrance and behind it a convent with barred windows flanked with a small church. Behind lay a garden and orchard, now linked to the Emonville garden.

Bagatellecastle

Typical of the architecture in the reign of King Louis XV, the castle was built in 1750-1760 for Josse van Robais, a Dutch draper who led the local Royal Manufacture. Its rooms are noteworthy for their wooden panes while the park mixes French and English gardens.

Saint-Vulfran collegial - © Ville d’AbbevilleMax Lejeune square - © Ville d’AbbevilleUrsulines square - © Ville d’AbbevilleThe belfry - © Ville d’AbbevilleLa Bouvaque park - © Ville d’AbbevilleEmoville park - © Ville d’AbbevilleGardens of the Carmel - © Ville d’Abbeville
No previous stage
Pop: 24,200
Sub-prefecture of the Somme (80)Economy : Port activities.
Specialties : Abbeville rhubarb, Ponthieu endive.
Motto : Semper fidelis (always faithful)
Sport : EAL Abbeville handball (L1), SC Abbeville (hockey)
Celebrities : Jacques Boucher de Perthes (archaeologist), Knight of La Barre, Max Lejeune (politician), Alfred Manessier (painter),
Festivals : festival of Bird and Nature, Nights of blues. 

The knight of la Barre

Jean-Francois de la Barre, a young Abbeville nobleman, became the symbol of religious intolerance after being executed without evidence for blasphemy in 1766. An orphan in youth and without resources, he was brought up with his brother by their aunt, Anne-Marie Feydeau, the abbess of Willancourt. A local celebrity, she was a centre of Abbeville social life at the time. The children of the town’s nobility were known for their exuberance tinted with a bit of anticlericalism.

On August 9, 1765, the cross on Abbeville’s new bridge was damaged. The profanation caused a major uproar in town, fuelled by the bishop of Amiens, who threatened to excommunicate any faithful who concealed evidence in the case. Several parishioners then recalled a recent instance when three young men had refused to salute a religious procession. The three were quickly identified as Gaillard d’Etallonde, Jean-Francois de la Barre and Moisnel. D’Etallonde moved abroad to avoid being judged while Moisnel was only 15 and could not be charged but De la Barre remained in town because he did not have the means to escape and because he had a solid alibi. However, searches in his room led to the discovery of several forbidden books like Voltaire’s Philosophical dictionary. The find made him an ideal suspect. A court in Abbeville sentenced to have his hand and tongue cut off before being burnt on a pyre.

The abbess of Willancourt tried to use her influence to have the sentence reversed and De la Barre appealed but in June, the Parliament of Paris confirmed the charges. Moinel was sentenced to a fine while D’Etallonde had found refuge in the Netherlands. Only De la Barre remained and on July 1, 1766, after being tortured, he was beheaded and his body was burnt alongside Voltaire’s book. Voltaire, personally targeted in the case, also fled to Switzerland and found shelter with Prussian monarch Frederick the Great. The writer defended the memory of De la Barre in several texts, but to no avail. De la Barre was only rehabilitated in 1794. In 1907, a monument was erected in Abbeville, close to the station to commemorate the execution

Knight of La Barre statue  in Montmartre - © David MonniauxLa Barre monument in Abbeville - © ArmeurH
No previous stage
Pop: 24,200
Sub-prefecture of the Somme (80)Economy : Port activities.
Specialties : Abbeville rhubarb, Ponthieu endive.
Motto : Semper fidelis (always faithful)
Sport : EAL Abbeville handball (L1), SC Abbeville (hockey)
Celebrities : Jacques Boucher de Perthes (archaeologist), Knight of La Barre, Max Lejeune (politician), Alfred Manessier (painter),
Festivals : festival of Bird and Nature, Nights of blues. 
video04/07/2012 

The tows 2012 : visit Abbeville

Jersey wearers after the prologue

Classifications after the prologue

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