They say confession is good for the soul, so I must admit that, leaving the train station, we saw the tower of this church and thought it was the cathedral, so walked over to it. It is under what appears to be heavy renovation and was not open, so we only got to see the outside, mostly the main portal which is in a very sad state of disrepair. Virtually every figure in the portal has been severely defaced or outright beheaded to the point that I could only guess that the main portal was of the coronation of the Virgin. I don’t know the source of the damage, but would guess that responsibility may lie with the French Revolution. It is a shame because it appears to be a lovely old church which predates the cathedral.
I am not sure what drew us into this old house other than its appealing ancient look, but we discovered it is the oldest house in Beauvais, dating from about 1410. It was evidently about to collapse when a local group devoted to preservation was able to get possession. It had to be moved, so it was painstakingly dismantled and reassembled on a small plot behind the cathedral. A sign inside indicates that it was used in the 16th Century by Martin Chambiges who was an architect of some note and built the south transept at Beauvais Cathedral and also the choir at St. Etienne in Beauvais. He is buried in the cathedral here. His son Pierre was a surveyor and architect and worked on some notable French structures including the Louvre, the chateaux at both Fontainebleau and Chantilly and the Hotel de Ville in Paris. Quite a talented family!
Reading the history of this cathedral brought to mind the proverb, “pride goes before a fall.” Seems the builders wanted to outdo nearby Amiens so built vaulting over the choir almost five meters higher. They got interrupted in building the transepts by a collapse of some of the choir’s vaulting but did finally finish. Then they decided to build a lantern tower over the crossing which was to be 153 meters. They finished it, but within about 3 years it had collapsed as well. So they are left with a choir and the south transept.
In spite of all these problems, this is still a stunning cathedral. Just looking up at the high choir vaulting is incredible. There are some beautiful medieval windows and some stunning iconic statuary. Also, there is a 14th-15th Century mechanical clock, reportedly the oldest working one anywhere as well as a 19th Century stunningly beautiful and intricate astronomical clock.
The museum is in an old building from the 14th century. It used to be the Bishops Palace. It is built on the foundations of a house from the 12th century.
On the bottom floor it shows some old statues or parts of staues. On the upper floor there is a historical exhibition and another exhibition of paintings, mostly modern works.
The museum is opened every day exept Tuesday, from 10 to 12, and from 14 to 18. Entry is free.
The link below will connect you to a site in French only.
The building of the cathedral was begun in 1247 under the leadership of the bishop Guillaume de Grès. The works turned out well, so perhaps the bishop got a little too ambitious when he decided to add another 5 metres to the height. The purpose was to make it the tallest cathedral in Europe, but the vaulting collapsed instead, in 1284. When the building works were resumed, a good time later, one would assume they had learned the lesson, but no, they were once again too ambitious and the central tower collapsed in 1573. This tower was 153 metres high so it is quite understandable it collapsed. After this the works more or less stopped, leaving the cathedral without a nave. The choir is 48,5 metres high, making it the tallest Gothic choir as well as the tallest uncompleted cathedral in the world.
The working hours are:
June through September from 09.00 to 18.30
May and October from 09.00 to 12.30, and from 14 to 18.30
November through April as above but closure at 17.30.
The nave in the St. Etienne Church dates from the 12th century, but the choir was replaced in the 16th century by the one we can see nowadays. The choir holds a fine array of stained-glass windows from this time.
The working hours are:
May through October from 09.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 17.00
November through April as above but closure at 16.00.
Saint-Barthelemy Collegiate Church was the home of a religious order
When I was here the ruin had been enhanced with a display called "White Dome", Light bounces off 1,000 almost-invisible nylon filaments that descend from a dome at the top of the tower. The nylon lines hold a series of wire rings that form a dome that is adorned with 3,000 tiny Swarovski crystals.
The Museum of the Oise department is located in the former Palace of the Bishops-Counts of Beauvais; the entrance is a 14th century gatehouse. The museum takes you on a journey that includes the Gallic warrior of Saint-Maur in medieval stone and wood carvings; the works of the French school of the 16th century, that includes the Resurrection of Christ by Antoine Caron, sketches by Thomas Couture for his painting of the Recruitment of volunteers to mention but a few.
October to June
Wednesday to Monday: 10:00 am to 12:00 am and 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm
July to September
Wednesday to Monday: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
During 1472 Beauvais was under siege by the Duke of Burgundy, this siege was famous for the heroism of the women, under the leadership of Jeanne Hachette, who earned her surname for the hatchet with which she helped to repel the Burgundians whose memory is still celebrated by an annual procession on the 14th of October (the feast of Saint Angadrème), in which the women take precedence of the men. This bronxe statue was by Gabriel-Vital Dubray.
The National Gallery of Tapestry presents contemporary exhibitions, as well as a rich collection of period fabrics and furniture belonging to the "National Furniture" collection. When the gallery is fully opened up it can hold 696 people. The gallery was designed by the architect André Hermant and built in 1964, the building rests upon the buttresses of the old Gallo-Roman ramparts.
Tuesday to Sunday: 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Jean Racine (1639-1699) a French dramatist was known as one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France, and an important literary figure in the Western tradition.
Racine studied at the convent of Port-Royal des Champs near Paris from 1649 to 1653, transferred to the College of Beauvais for almost two years, and then returned to Port-Royal in October 1655 to perfect his studies.
The Beauvais Tourist provides tourist and practical information, hiking and mountain bike trails, concert and show tickets, gifts and souvenirs in the shop, group and individual guided tours, weekends and short breaks, and more.
Monday to Saturday: 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Sunday (April to October): 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Monument aux Morts Beauvais
The Beauvais War Memorial commemorates the inhabitants of Beauvais who died in the First and Second World War. The memorial is by Henri Gréber and was inaugurated on 6 July 1924. The monument was inspired by the mémoires of a Lieutenant Péricard who wrote that during an attack on the Yser in 1914 he had imagined that he had seen dead soldiers rise up to give assistance.
Building of the Cathedral of Saint Peter began in 1225, by the Bishop of Beauvais, but was never completed. It was to have been the largest cathedral in Europe. Its vault was to have been 157 feet high. However, it collapsed in 1272 and 1284, 200 years later a transept was built and expanded along with the addition of a large tower in the sixteenth century. However, in 1573 the tower was the cause of another major collapse. Today, it is a remarkable Gothic structure, standing only as chapels, and a transept.
Monday to Saturday: 9:00 am to 12:15 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm
The church furnishings found in St.-Etienne include a 16C pulpit from which the elected Mayors of Beauvais took their oath of office and an even older baptismal font and the aforementioned Deposition group in the nave besides the beautiful glass.