August 26, 2018
The gentle rolling landscape of Picardy continues on the journey northwest of Soissons towards the even smaller but no less historic town of Noyon, quaint and delightful, more intimate and friendly as well. The landscape is punctuated by meandering rivers and canals, primarily the Aisne, flowing westward towards Compiègne, and then later the Oise and its adjoining canal, which flow through Noyon.
The road northwestward climbs to the crest of a hill whose forested cladding breaks open to the characteristic shorn plain that bedecks the typical broad Picard hill, then weaves gradually downwards to the quaint, green village of Nouvron-Vingré, abandonded by its population in the depths of summer to their seasonal pursuits closer to the coast. Sprawling gardens provide a brilliant contrast to the drab Gothic architecture of the small but historic place of worship the town is centered on.
Further along to Morsain, a town less agricultural and more elegant in nature, featuring neoclassical civic buildings and a small Gothic cathedral with unusual squat, multi-layered gabling, admidst leafy alleys awash in swaths of fragrant pastel flowers.
Meandering country roads bring me to the small community of Saint Aubin, that has more of a feeling of a commuter town, with residential houses and the feeling of a modest resort. But who would commute to this town and why?
The narrow country roads weave along pleasant fields and alongside thick copses of trees back onto open land, the typical rolling Picard landscape now almost completely flat, until rising along one final ridge, where the country lane merges with the local highway feeding into the town of Noyon, small by any standards, but gargantuan compared to any of the villages in the region.