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A Walk Around Beauvais
From: Beauvais, France
The heart of Beauvais is the , a large and attractive square that has been turned into a pedestrian zone. (Don't be misled by outdated Google Maps, some of which show parked cars on the pavement.)
The Place Jeanne Hachette has cafés and restaurants, shops, park benches, and open space where children can run:
, the city's main department store, is on the right in the photo below, facing the northeastern corner of the square:
Near the top or northern edge of the Place Jeanne Hachette, children can enjoy rides on a :
The 18th Century and its modern fountain are at the southern
end of the square. (On some maps, the city hall is labeled "Mairie de
Tiles in the pavement show local symbols and icons--including the salamander, which is the official mascot of Beauvais:
North of the square is a fountain that operates even when local businesses have been shuttered for the night:
The city's , or , is a short block away from the square's northwestern corner, at the junction of Rue Saint-Pierre and Rue Beauregard.
We found the staff very helpful when we stopped in on a Saturday morning. Among other things, they gave us a copy of Walk Beauvais, a 12-page booklet with sightseeing itineraries and a city map:
are embedded in sidewalks around Beauvais as visual aids for sightseeing. The Tourist Office's Walk Beauvais booklet explains:
"Let the salamander guide you and take a walk through 2000 years of the history of Beauvais from the Gallo-Roman ramparts through Le Quadrilatère, without forgetting the cathedral, of course."
The is close to the Tourist Office and the three-star Hotel de la Cathédrale, where we stayed during our visit to Beauvais.
See our dedicated
Beauvais Cathedral page with captioned photos of both the church and its
son et lumière show, which takes place in summer and at Christmas.
Next door to the cathedral is
museum occupies a palace where the Bishops of Beauvais once lived. One of its
creepier occupants was Pierre Cauchon, who condemned Joan of Arc to be burned at
Another landmark near the cathedral is the ruin of
which was one of the city's churches before the French Revolution. Only the
choir has survived:
The dates back at least 1,700 years. The ruined
walls, which are immediately behind the cathedral, are the oldest structure in
France may be a land of religious liberty, but compared to Beauvais Cathedral, the local Protestant church looks like a gatehouse:
Also in the cathedral district, and several other half-timbered structures are typical of Beauvais residences from before the 20th Century:
Given that "cleanliness is next to godliness," it's appropriate that the of Beauvais is within walking distance of the cathedral.
The bath house opened in 1921 for the convenience of citizens who lacked full
bathrooms. It operated for 60 years, closing in 1981:
Also close by is , the river of Beauvais, which has long been a
source of water for drinking and industrial uses (ncluding textile production in
the Middle Ages). Today, it's a pleasant spot for trout fishing:
If you can't get a room at the Hotel de la Cathédrale (see above), or if you prefer a four-star hotel with all the trimmings, the Mercure Centre Beauvais Cathédrale is a good alternative. It's slightly west of the historic center, a little beyond the cathedral.
The hotel has free parking, which makes it appealing if you're visiting Beauvais by car.
During our visit to Beauvais, we noticed several vintage cars, including a Morgan sports car and a Citroën Deux Cheveaux:
This antique residential mailbox also caught our fancy:
On the Rue du 27 Juin and elsewhere, we saw more historic half-timbered houses and brick houses with slate roofs:
South of the Place Jeanne Hachette is another ecclesiastical landmark, the .
Until the French Revolution of 1989, it
was the municipal church where the mayor would take his oath of office. (The
bells in its belfry were used to summon the citizenry.)
One of the church's nicer features is a garden that's open to the public. It includes an "insect hotel" for pollinators and other six-legged creatures:
While we wandered outside the Church of Saint-Étienne, we spotted a bride and groom posing for wedding photos:
Spiritual sustenance is fine, but sometimes you need more than a saint's bone to gnaw on. Downtown Beauvais is dotted with places to eat and drink, such as the (where we had a satisfying dinner) and several crêperies.
Back to introduction: Beauvais, France
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