Where I relived the adventures of Phileas Fogg, Passepartout and Captain Nemo.
In 1882 Jules Verne and his wife Honorine moved into the whimsical, turreted house with the glorious spiral staircase. “At my wife’s wishes I settled in Amiens, a sober, civilised town whose society is cordial and cultured. We are close enough to Paris to see its reflection without the unbearable noise and the futile bustle." So wrote Jules Verne to his friend Charles Wallut.
They lived here for 18 years and this was where he wrote most of his 62 novels and numerous short stories. Nowadays the house is a museum and somewhere visitors can relive the adventures of his heroes including Phileas Fogg, Passepartout and Captain Nemo.
Verne’s most famous novels are Around the World in Eighty Days, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, A Journey to the Center of the Earth and From the Earth to the Moon. It goes without saying he had an incredible imagination and talent and being a great travel writer, he could easily describe whole territories of countries he had never visited.
When he started writing Five Weeks in a Balloon the author had no knowledge of ballooning nor had he been to Africa. He probably drew on the writings of others and referred to magazines like Louis Hachette's Le Tour du Monde-Nouveau Journal des Voyages which featured articles on worldwide explorations and included maps and illustrations.
The author wrote remarkably knowledgeably about space, the moon landing, air travel, skyscrapers and underwater travel before navigable aircraft, practical submarines or any means of space travel had been invented. This is why he is often referred to as the ‘father of science fiction’ together with H. G. Wells.
The house is dedicated to his life and memories and is full of the writer’s personal objects, posters, original copies, magic lanterns, letters, manuscripts and a model of the Nautilus, the submarine in '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea'. Do visit when you are in the area.
Jules Verne Museum, 2 rue Charles Dubois, 80000 Amiens
The Gambia Experience has launched its new brochure marking 32 years of operation to West Africa. Offering the widest choice of UK flights, with a flying time of around 6 hours between London and Banjul, the operator presents an extensive collection of holidays and adventures enabling visitors to experience more than simply the country's sunshine and golden sands.
Catering for all tastes and budgets, accommodation ranges from value beach hotels, all-inclusive and spa resorts to indulgent luxury hideaways, floating river lodges, wildlife and nature reserves within Luxury, Unique and Classic collections. Boat trips, overland excursions and home cooking days in a typical Gambian household are among experiences available through the company for private parties and groups.
Key locations to observe species of exotic birds and wildlife are included – from hotel gardens, nature reserves, the riverside or in the African bush, guided tours can be tailored for a minimum of two people.
To further showcase the region's waterways, The Gambia Experience has added a Rivers of West Africa mega yacht cruise, with four and seven-night itineraries departing early 2020 from Banjul.
For a memorable safari experience observing game, the company presents Fathala Wildlife Reserve in neighbouring Senegal, offering day trips and overnight stays or longer.
Featured hotels in beach resorts of north and south Senegal are now integrated within Gambia hotel collections and can provide a perfect add-on to a Gambia holiday or, as a stand-alone holiday with flights in and out of Dakar.
The Gambia Experience's product manager Karen Durham commented: “Capturing this colourful country through our collection of holidays, excursions and tours we can provide our customers with the perfect introduction to unspoiled Africa. We are thrilled to present some great multi-centre options alongside holiday extensions and excursion opportunities, including a Rivers of West Africa Cruise which adds another dimension to our exciting range of experiences."
More information at www.gambia.co.uk
Land of the Giants
At least twenty mountains in the St. Elias Range exceed 4,000 metres, a few exceed 5,000 metres, but towering over them all is Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak at 5,959 metres.
Then there's the mighty Yukon River stretching for over 1,800 miles.
Vast regions, varied ecosystems and relatively sparse human population make the Yukon a haven for some of North America's most impressive species - grizzly and black bears, wolves, caribou, moose, muskox and millions of migratory birds.
Almost 80% of the Yukon remains pristine wilderness with just over 10% of the territory fully protected.
All three North American bears: black, grizzly and polar are found in the Yukon, but you are much more likely to see a black bear than a grizzly. Black bears live in forested areas, but grizzly bears range from southern forested areas and across the tundra to the Arctic Ocean. Polar bears are seen on the North Slope and Herschel Island. The Yukon grizzly bear population is one of Canada's largest and most stable in North America and the Alsek River corridor in Kluane National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site has been designated a special preservation area. Shorter summers in the north mean that grizzlies must be as efficient as possible in preparing for their long winter hibernation. In the Yukon, grizzlies depend on thick crops of berries and seasonal runs of salmon to fatten up. In an autumn feeding frenzy, a grizzly can eat 200,000 berries in a single day!
Whether you're an ardent birder or a casual wildlife watcher, the Yukon's flyway comes alive as trumpeter swans, geese, sandhill cranes and other migratory birds travel to and from nesting grounds. Birders converge in the Yukon to search for species including harlequin duck, northern hawk owl, wandering tattler, gyrfalcon and three kinds of ptarmigan.
Yukon is also home to approximately 130,000 – 150,000 caribou in one of North America's last remaining large animal herds. The herd was nominated as one of the seven wonders of Canada a few years ago.
Although the Yukon offers some of Canada's most accessible wilderness, civilisation is never far away in one of the Yukon's ten communities. It also enjoys a culture of rich northern tradition and First Nation (native) customs and beliefs.
Fancy a visit? See Canadian Sky and Wildlife Worldwide
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. Website gillypickup.co.uk