Beauvais Things to Do

  • Even so defaced,it is still beautiful.
    Even so defaced,it is still beautiful.
    by rexvaughan
  • Things to Do
    by rexvaughan
  • Inside beams and ceiling
    Inside beams and ceiling
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Best Rated Things to Do in Beauvais

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    Be Overwhelmed by the Cathedral Interior

    by hquittner Written Jan 17, 2009

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    The tall apse and choir were started in 1225 (shortly after Amiens began their church) and that part was finished in 1272 as the largest ever built. In 1284 part of the vault collapsed. At this time there were no building funds available Arguments about the reasons for the fall ensued and nothing more was done for almost 100 years. In the 14C it was decided that the buttressing was at fault and the number of arches in the inner ambulatory was doubled and a 6 -part vaulting was installed instead of the early 4-part one. In 1500 money was raised and the leading architect Martin Chambiges was engaged to create the transepts. Carried away, they next added a crossing tower with a giant spire (taller than that at Strasbourg) (1569). Since there was no nave to provide extra buttressing, this too collapsed in 1573! Subsequently the nave end was covered and this is how it has remained--naveless. The weakness of the choir must still be there but architects have never agreed about what it is. Metal reinforcements have been added in some places, but although the center of Beauvais was obliterated by bombings in 1940, the cathedral escaped significant damage and the vibrations did nothing to the structure.

    The Apse-Choir Inner Ambulatory Arches (note how narrow) Inner Ambulatory (High Support  Level) North Transept View South Transept View
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    Study the Stained Glass Windows of the Cathedral

    by hquittner Written Jan 18, 2009

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    The windows are dazzling. The glass is colorful and vivid and the tracery is impressive. There are 13C windows in the apse and fine 16C windows in the transepts, especially the South Rose Window, by master craftsmen of Beauvais named Leprince (1551) There are even modern ones by Max Ingrand (1954). In order to do them justice it requires literature (which we did not have) to locate the windows and spell out the stories (especially the Rose Window). The windows are very high up and photography requires a steady hand, a good camera and technic. We lacked all of these.

    A Window by Leprince (1551) An Apse Window (13C) Close-up of 13C Window 16C Replacement window Part of N.Transept Rose Restored by M. Ingrand
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    Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Beauvais

    by grayfo Updated Sep 28, 2012

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    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

    June 2012

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    Walk the Town

    by hquittner Written Jan 18, 2009

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    Most of central Beauvais is new, the consequence of W.W.II destruction. We walked from the Cathedral along rue St.-Pierre to the Tapestry Museum. Across the street we saw the remains of the St.-Barthelemy Church which has been converted into a Tourist Office which we should have visited first. (Does this still exist?). From there we headed down rue de la Taillerie until we reached the church of St.-Etienne.

    Tourist Office View Toward Church of St.-Etienne
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    Enter the Cloister

    by hquittner Written Jan 18, 2009

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    The two side of the cloister have a wooden covering. In addition one side supports the Chapter House. Next to it are the interesting remains of a 10C church which was where the new nave was to have been built. Instead this church continued to be used until all thoughts of further building had ceased. The cloister garden is enclosed by these structures.

    Part of Cloister and Chapter House Another Angle of Cloister Rough Construction of Ancient Church
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    See the Incomplete Cathedral St.-Pierre Structure

    by hquittner Written Jan 17, 2009

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    Be aware that this 3* Michelin cathedral in Beauvais is by far the tallest Gothic cathedral in the world, and that is why it is unfnished. What fraction exists (choir and transepts, no nave) can easily accomodate the entire population (54K) of the city. It is a beautiful example of 13C Gothic. One enters through the 16C South Transept via doors of the same period.

    South Transept and Apse South Transept and Rose Window There Is No Nave to Left of the Transept!
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    See the Astronomical Clock at St.-Pierre Cathedral

    by hquittner Written Jan 20, 2009

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    There is a“mechanical clock”in the North transept . Actually it is an astronomical clock. with over 90,000 parts. There is also one in Strasbourg Cathedral that was rebuilt in1842 on the works of an older simpler one of 1571. This one was built in the 1860’s by a local enginee, A.-L. Verite. It locates the positions of the planets, provides the current time in many cities around the world and acts out a Last Judgement (5 times a day). Nearby stands a simpler 16C clock. Try to inquire and drop by to see the action.

    The Immense Astronomical Clock A Closer View Some detail
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  • Not only an airport

    by Fra.da. Written Aug 22, 2006

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    Take a couple of hours to have a look around. Unfortunatly, I didn't have much time but it was enough to visit the two main churches of the town: St. Etienne and the cathedral. Both gotic style, very impressive.

    St. Etienne: entrance the cathedral windows of the cathedral
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    There Are Other Items to See in the Church

    by hquittner Updated Jan 31, 2009

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    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.

    The 16C Pulpit Baptismal Font (16C) Deposition Group
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    Visit the Church of St.-Etienne

    by hquittner Written Jan 19, 2009

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    St.-Etienne was once the town church. It was started in the 12C with Romanesque nave and transepts but was not finished until the early1500’s, when the Gothic choir and ambulatory were added (1506-22). The last addition was a bell-tower, badly needed by the town, for the west facade in the early 17C. Two items about the church are very important. In the Romanesque period the North transept received a novel decoration: a large circular window called a “Wheel of Fortune” (or Fate), a precursor to the Rose Window.(see our Tip here under General Information about this piece of art history). The second is the glass windows done by the Leprince family (1518-24) in the choir area. The same artists who did the Cathedral transepts. Here their “Tree of Jesse” is considered more than outstanding!
    The west front has a recessed double door and tympanum. On the South side there is a beautiful Romanesque portal that needs more display of its grace. And on the North transept is the historically famous Wheel under a nice gable.

    West Facade of St.-Etienne Portal on South Side Wheel of Fate (North Transept)
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    Look at the Famous Stained Glass

    by hquittner Updated Jan 31, 2009

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    The color and delicacy of the glass in the choir of St.-Etienne requires no comment. It is 16C and the Leprince family are its master creators. The windows are lower than at the Cathedral and easier to photograph. The Tree of Jesse is the most celebrated example.

    David with Harp in Tree of Jesse The Full Window Another Full Window Detail of Same
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    Visit the Galerie Nationale de la Tapisserie

    by hquittner Written Jan 18, 2009

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    We visited the Tapestry Museum and were surprised at the expansion of the craft and art over the centuries, (At the time we were of meager knowledge and our pictures are limited in scope. The peak of Beauvais creativity was in the 18C when a local painter Jean-Baptiste Oudry was in charge. He, unlike most other artists understod the craft and its limitations and produced cartoons that could be efficiently executed (and modified cartoons of other artists as well). As a painter of ladnscapes and hunting scenes, he knew how to control details. He created series of cartoons from the Fables of La Fontaine which were in great demand. (I hope we illustrate one. Our selection attempts to be from different periods. We remember that the peacock was a hall-mark of the studios).

    Beauvais Tapestry (18C) 20C Cartoon Source (Picasso?) Millefleurs Style Tapestry (15C) 18C Tapestry Another of 18C
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    Examine the Interior of St.-Etienne

    by hquittner Written Jan 19, 2009

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    The fusion of a Romanesque nave and transepts with a Gothic choir was gracefully accomplished by creating a tall crossing tower which minimized the change from a squat three level nave with thick columns to a much taller Gothic apse. The blend is striking. (Note the 16C Deposition group in the nave).

    Nave View To Apse Three Level Nave Crossing, Low Nave(L), Tall Apse (R) Tall Ambulatory Nave View Toward West Facade
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    Cathedral to outdo Amiens

    by rexvaughan Written Feb 18, 2013

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    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.

    South transept is now the main entrance Just soars above you! Just half a church, but still magnificent The old clock Remains of the fallen transept

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    15th Century house

    by rexvaughan Written Feb 18, 2013

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    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!

    Inside beams and ceiling

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Beauvais Things to Do

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