Beauvais

The city of Beauvais is interesting particularly for its Cathedral. There is not much in Paris-Beauvais Airport, besides the somewhat-out-of-the-way airport that is home to RyanAir and other low-budget, no-frills airlines. A bus system links Beauvais to Paris, departing from the Porte Maillot bus depot. One-way bus ticket is 13.

Location

Beauvais lies at the foot of wooded hills on the left bank of the Therain at its confluence with the Avelon. Its ancient ramparts have been destroyed, and it is now surrounded by boulevards, outside which run branches of the Therain. In addition, there are spacious promenades in the north-east of the town.

Beauvais Cathedral

Its cathedral, dedicated to Saint Peter (Cathedral Saint-Pierre de Beauvais), in some respects the most daring achievement of Gothic architecture, consists only of a transept and quire with apse and seven apse-chapels. The vaulting in the interior exceeds 150 ft. in height.

The small Romanesque church of the tenth century known as the Basse Oeuvre occupies the site destined for the nave. Begun in 1247, under Bishop William of Grs (Guillaume de Grs, Guillaume de Grez), an extra 16 feet were added to the height, to make it the tallest cathedral in Europe: the work was interrupted in 1284 by the collapse of the vaulting of the choir, a disaster that produced a temporary failure of nerve among the masons working in Gothic style. In 1573 the fall of a too-ambitious central tower stopped work again, after which little addition was made. The transept was built from 1500 to 1548.

Its facades, especially that on the south, exhibit all the richness of the late Gothic style. The carved wooden doors of both the north and the south portals are masterpieces respectively of Gothic and Renaissance workmanship. The church possesses an elaborate astronomical clock (1866) and tapestries of the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries; but its chief artistic treasures are stained glass windows of the thirteenth, fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, the most beautiful of them from the hand of the Renaissance artist, Engrand Le Prince, a native of Beauvais. To him also is due some of the stained glass in St. Etienne, the second church of the town, and an interesting example of the transition stage between the Romanesque and Gothic styles.

During the Middle Ages, on January 14, the Feast of Asses was celebrated in the Beauvais Cathedral, in commemoration of the Flight into Egypt.

Leave a Comment