For those who have never heard of Beauvais, it is a small town of 55,000, about an hour and a half north of Paris by car. It is probably best known for its small airport, which exploded in popularity with the arrival of low-cost carriers. In 1996, the airport served 60,000 passengers and last year, nearly 4 million. I flew there from Vilnius and wanted to get to a hotel near Charles-de-Gaulle airport, in order to catch a morning flight to Canada. Not wanting to go into Paris and then get back out to CDG, which is also north of the city, I looked for a direct route and found a twice daily shuttle to EuroDisney, which can drop you off at CDG airport on the way. The trouble is, I would have to wait six hours.
Really not wanting to do the back and forth in and out of Paris, I figured I would go to Beauvais itself, have lunch and possibly go to the cinema.
As soon as I walked past City Hall, I realized it was not the village I had thought it to be. I went to the tourist office and they recommended I visit the cathedral and a little museum. Nothing sounded very interesting, but was I ever in for a surprise!
The Cathedral of St-Peter of Beauvais is widely considered to be the craziest ever project of Gothic architecture.
Built in the 13th century, its nave is not the highest in the Oise Department. At 48.5 m, it is the highest in the whole world, a few meters higher than St-Peter of Rome!
800 years ago, this was absolute madness. It pushed Gothic technology to its absolute limits, and in many ways, beyond the limits. In 1284, part of the nave collapsed, and since then, the building has been in a kind of permanent situation of imminent collapse! Continue reading