PICARDY beauvais oise; beauvais; palais; épiscopal

Beauvais (pop 60,000) was once a bustling medieval town and the French still prefer to remember the city for its past glamour. However, this long-standing city has lost most of its lustre after surviving the many battles that have taken place in the region, most notably the two World Wars. Beauvais, like its neighbour Amiens, was almost completely rebuilt after WWII and hence is rather plain-looking on the whole. A few gems like the famed Cathedral St-Pierre, power up the city’s attraction force. You can arrive at Beauvais via regional flights at the Beauvais-Tille Airport (located northeast of town), or via trains at Gare de Beauvais [Place de la Gare].



BEAUVAIS STREET MAP:  1. Tourist office  2. Cathédrale St-Pierre  3. Musée Départmental de l’Oise  4. Galerie Nationale de la Tapisserie  5. Manufacture Nationale de la Tapisserie

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PICARDY Cathédrale St-Pierre interiorB
eauvais’ main attractions are within a few blocks of each other.   It's striking Gothic Cathédrale St-Pierre [rue St-Pierre +33 344481160 Guided Tours available] remains incomplete, as works halted in the 1600s. This hubristic building is still admired by many for its stunning Gothic features and high ambitions which pushed the boundaries of technology in the past. Ambitious works on the Cathedrale St-Pierre began between 1224 and 1225, with the intention of creating a building unlike anything the world had ever seen before. The builders managed to build 48m-high vaults (the highest ever built in that time) with the thinnest-possible flying buttresses; however, there was little known technology to properly maintain such structures, causing it to collapse in 1284 due to the vibrations from strong winds.  Nonetheless, the building committee remained undeterred and construction works continued on the cathedral for the next two centuries. By the 16th century, the Cathédrale St-Pierre had the tallest spire (153m) of the era. This too, however; came crashing down in 1573. Hence, this grand architectural creation stands today with incomplete features such as an absent nave and “unglamorous” added support like the wooden tresses that hold up the north transept. 

PICARDY Cathédrale St-Pierre Astronomical clock Wikipedia You can also head inside the cathedral to sight its astronomical clocks (ornate clocks that display the time of the day, as well as, additional information such as planetary positions) – one from the 14th century and the other from 1868. 

If you head west of the cathedral, you will come across the Musée Départmental de l’Oise [1 rue du Musée, +33 344104050 Free]. This regional museum is housed in the former bishop’s residence. The building itself is worth a visit as it stands as a reminder of Beauvais’ rich past. Inside, the museum houses both historical and artistic displays from around the Oise department, such as the relics of a first century Gallic Warrior and 14th century frescos. 

Beauvais has also been a reputed tapestry-making centre, since the time of King Louis XIV. Today, you can find exhibitions of locally made tapestries in the Galerie Nationale de la Tapisserie [22 rue St Pierre,, 
+33 344153910] (located east of the cathedral). The Manufacture Nationale de la Tapisserie [24 rue Henri Brispot, +32 344144190] allows you to sight the actual tapestry-making process in its workshop. This workshop still functions today as it gets commissioned by the French government to create modern tapestries, which adorn the walls of important government buildings.