Beauvais, Picardy, Exploring France

Beauvais, Picardy – Exploring France

Beauvais is a town in the historical province of Picardy in northern France, nowadays a part of the region of Hauts-de-France. This is a historical town dating back to the age of the Romans, then known by the name Caesaromagus. Today it is the seat of the local commune, a commune that is home to around 56.000 inhabitants. It is probably best known by foreigners to be the home of one of the Paris area’s airports, the Beauvais-Tillé Airport. This is an airport served by low-cost airlines, such as Ryanair, Wizz Air, and easyJet. Many might take the direct bus to Paris and miss to explore Beauvais, a town only a few kilometers away.

Our Visit to Beauvais

We visited Beauvais for a day in the spring of 2024, during a week-long visit to France where we had spent our initial days in Paris. Beauvais became our last stop before leaving France and heading back home to Sweden from the local airport.

A Short History

Known by the Romans as Caesaromagus the town of Beauvais became an important town within France, being granted the title of Peer of France in the 11th century. Well, it was the Bishop of Beauvais who held the title, which followed with the title as Bishop of Beauvais. The bishop also played an important role during the coronations. It was his duty, together with the Bishop of Langres, to present the king to the people.

Beauvais came under English siege at least twice during the Hundred Year’s War between the kingdoms of England and France. The first of these sieges took place in 1346 and the second in 1433. The war with England was followed by others and the town was once more under siege in 1472, then by the Duke of Burgundy. This later siege created the foundation of what was to become the story of a French heroine. Jeanne Hachette was born in Beauvais and is believed to have taken part in the defence of the town. The story tells of her bravery in attacking a Burgundian soldier who was in an attempt to plant a flag on top of one of the city’s battlements. The successful defense of the town includes many stories of actions taken by women to assist in the fighting.

The wars would continue to shape Beauvais. The city was severely damaged during the First World War and did not fare better when during the German advancements of the Second World War. Not much still stands of the former Old Town of Beauvais. Even the cathedral was damaged and has since been restored.

Things to Do and See

Exploring Beauvais included a few main sights, but there is a lot more than first meets the eye. The cathedral is hard to miss, just next door is a small timber-framed building. It is a residential building dating back to the 15th century, probably making it the oldest still standing in the town. The remains of the city wall can also be found just next door. A bit further away is the very picturesque street Rue du 27 Juin. Following this street eastward will take you to the local shopping center, the Centre Commercial Jeu de Paume.

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Beauvais

The Cathedral of Saint Peter is the most prominent building here. It dates back to the 13th century and is the seat of the Bishop of Beauvais, Noyon, and Senlis. For a few years in the 16th century, this cathedral was the tallest known human construction in the world. The cathedral had not been completed at the outbreak of the Second World War and was severely damaged. The unfinished statue still stands today, even after the reconstruction.

Place de l’Hôtel de Ville

The Town Hall is at the main square. It is a large impressive building that dates back to the year 1753. The historical building was mostly destroyed in 1940 during the Second World War and the reconstruction wasn’t completed until 1957. The building is still today home to the local administration.

Musée départemental de l’Oise

The Museum of the Oise Department is housed in the former bishop’s palace. It is next to the cathedral and is characterized by its two small towers at its entrance. The museum has a large collection of objects with historic or artistic significance.

Église Saint-Étienne de Beauvais

It is not only the cathedral to explore if you look for the religious sites. The Saint-Étienne Church is another large church in the town. This one is older than the cathedral and dates back to the 12th century.

How to Get to Beauvais

  • Flights: The Beauvais-Tillé Airport (BVA) is right on the outskirts of the town. The airport serves the Paris area, but don’t be discouraged from finding alternative towns to explore. There are local buses to Beauvais, you don’t need to take the bus to Paris.
  • Train: There are regular trains to and from Paris Gare du Nord, but there are also trains to Abancourtm Creil, and Le Tréport.
  • Car: Beauvais is at the intersection of several major roads, especially Road A16 and Road N31.

The driving distance from 6 major Italian cities, according to Google Maps:

  • Paris – 102 kilometers (1 h 15 min)
  • Strasbourg – 505 kilometers (5 h 20 min)
  • Nantes – 472 kilometers (4 h 30 min)
  • Lyon – 461 kilometers (5 h)
  • Toulouse – 758 kilometers (7 h 10 min)
  • Marseille – 868 kilometers (7 h 40 min)

Looking to Explore more of France and Europe?

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