Perhaps when we hear its name we imagine one of the three airports that connect with the French capital. However, Beauvais is a nice town near Paris that you can visit in one day. Learn more about him in this article.
Beauvais, a small town with a lot of history
Beauvais is the capital of the Oise department and belongs to the Hauts-de-France region. Although its current name derives from the Celtic tribe of Belóvacos, the Romans had already baptized it as Bratuspantium and it was also known as Caesaromagus (Caesar’s market).
In the 9th century Beauvais became a county and began to gain importance. So much so that since the 12th century the bishop of the city was considered a peer of France, so that at the consecration of the kings he was one of those in charge of offering the royal mantle and presenting the new monarch.
It was attacked by the English twice in a century (1346 and 1433) and in 1472 it was besieged by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. This fact is well known because the Beauvais women played a prominent defensive role, with Jeanne Hachette at the helm.
The oldest private engineering school in the country was founded in Beauvais (1855) and in World War II the city was almost 80% destroyed by German bombardments. Unfortunately, during the days that the attack lasted, several medieval and Renaissance buildings were lost.
St. Peter’s Cathedral, the great treasure of Beauvais
Beauvais has a great tourist attraction that is also a source of pride for the locals: the Cathedral of Saint Peter. It is a Gothic-style temple and one of the peculiarities is that it was not finished. Only the choir, the transept and the apse, formed by 7 chapels and an ambulatory, were completed. But even unfinished, it is a spectacular temple.
The works began in the 13th century and the plan was very ambitious for the time. The vaults would be 50 meters high and would be one of the most impressive temples in the country.
However, technical difficulties and threats of collapse brought construction to a standstill. At present we can see the complete header, and that already gives us an idea of what it would have been like if it had been completed.
A fabulous building
Beauvais Cathedral stands almost 50 meters above the other houses. The exterior is decorated with gargoyles representing infernal creatures, it has spiers that finish off the buttresses (something typical of flamboyant Gothic) and it has large stained glass windows that let light pass into the interior. The south façade acts as the main portico, with its carved wooden doors representing the lives of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
Inside, we are struck by the natural light and also the typical vaulted ceilings as found in other European temples (such as Sacre Coeur, in Paris). In addition, it has columns and pillars that support the walls, a choir and seven chapels dedicated to different saints.
The astronomical clock
Another interesting feature of the Beauvais Cathedral is the astronomical clock. It has no less than 90,000 parts, 15 engines and 52 spheres. It was installed in 1868 to indicate the passing of the seasons and the duration of the days and nights. In addition, it has a medieval staircase that allowed access to its mechanism.
What else to see in Beauvais
In addition to its cathedral, in Beauvais you can visit the former episcopal palace, which today houses an interesting museum dedicated to art and archeology. Another stop should be the church of St-Étienne. And some medieval houses and part of the Gallo-Roman walls have also been preserved.
Beauvais can be reached from Paris by rail or by car, via the A16 and N31 motorways. If you have some free time until your flight departure, you can take a walk around this beautiful place.