The department of Aisne was one of the 83 original departments created during the French Revolution of 1790. Whilst Aisne did not acquire the notoriety of neighbouring department Somme during the First and Second World Wars, the region is nevertheless synonymous with conflict, being the site of numerous significant battles.
The climate of Aisne is very similar to the climate of southern England; cool winters and mild summers should be expected.
Average temperature in Aisne
|Period ||Celsius ||Fahrenheit |
|January-February ||7 ||45 |
|March-April ||9 ||49 |
|May-June ||16 ||61 |
|July-August ||19 ||67 |
|September-October ||14 ||58 |
|November-December ||7 ||45 |
Lovers of culture will not be disappointed by Aisne. The region boasts a number of picturesque buildings and idyllic country homes, many of which are open to the public. St Michael's Abbey, a beautiful abbey, monastery and museum is a particularly good example and well worth a visit. The Abbey houses an impressive organ from the time of Louis XIV and marvellous sixteenth-century wall paintings. The eighteenth century abbey at Longpont also provides a perfect day out.
Those who wish to experience the history of Aisne should make time to visit the American Cemetery and memorial in Bony.
Also of interest is the Alexandre Dumas museum in the town of Villers-Cotterets. The museum is based in a nineteenth century mansion and is dedicated to the eighteenth century General Dumas, his son Alexandre, author of The Three Musketeers, and his grandson, also Alexandre. A number of first editions, manuscripts and interesting exhibitions should keep visitors entertained for a morning or afternoon.
If you fancy a visit to a French château, try the 13th Century castle in the town of Braine, or the 16th Century Château Francois in Villers-Cotterets.
Families with children should find that the country walks, canoeing and kayaking on offer in Aisne keep them entertained. Pony treks through the many meadows of the department provide a fun day out for adults and children alike.
Food and drink
The major towns and cities of Aisne offer a variety of restaurants, bars and cafés. Traditional patisseries and bakeries are also prolific. Visitors should not leave the region without sampling the champagne that locals take such pride in. Champagne is often included in sauces and sorbets.
Aisne boasts over 2000km of walking paths and trails. The official tourist board of the department can provide details about routes in the area you choose to visit. A number of themed tourist trails have been set up in the department, including the Champagne Tourist Trail and the 'Fortified Churches Trail' in the Brune Valley.
Aisne is a popular location for water sports. The river Oise, which originates near the Belgian border and flows through Aisne, provides an excellent opportunity for canoeing and kayaking, and is an excellent way to explore the region.
Those who do not enjoy water sports might want to consider exploring the region by bicycle instead. Cycling tours are easy to organise, and there are numerous trails throughout the department.
Fly fishing and coarse fishing are also popular and easy to arrange. Carp, pike and bream are among the most prevalent fish in the waterways of Aisne.
Golf enthusiasts are well catered for. There are numerous 9, 18, 27 and 36 hole courses throughout Aisne, designed for beginners, casual players and professionals alike.
As part of the Champagne region of France, the department Aisne is an excellent location for wine lovers. Try the Champagne Tourist Trail if you would like to enjoy Aisne's countryside as you sample the local wines.
Ease of access
Aisne is well linked by road and rail. The Belgian cities of Brussels, Mons and Bruge all lie within a 2 hour drive. The French cities of Paris, Lille and Amiens can also be reached by road within 2 hours. The south coast of England is also within relatively easy reach via a short drive and the Channel tunnel or ferry.
Value for money
Aisne offers excellent value for money. It is generally cheaper than the neighbouring department of Oise as it is further away from Paris. People interested in taking advantage of the wide range of outdoor pursuits on offer in Aisne will probably find that activities are cheaper here than in many other departments. Those who fall in love with the region enough to consider looking for a holiday home might also be interested to know that property prices in Aisne are amongst the lowest in France.
Aisne is the perfect destination for those seeking to unwind by taking country walks and by trying a variety of sports. Wine lovers will find champagne vineyards to indulge their interest, and those seeking culture will be kept occupied by the region's numerous religious buildings, museums and castles.