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Beauvais sits between Paris and Amiens in the sweeping countryside of northeastern France. It makes a good base to explore this historic region.
The one sight not to be missed in town is the Cathedral St Pierre. The huge Gothic structure radiates above the town and is unusual in that it is unadorned by a tower or spire. The building is a remnant of the competitiveness of medieval France where towns sought to outdo each other. The church is best known for its stained glass and remarkable clocks. The Tapestry Museum, devoted to the craft for which the town was once famous, is also worth visiting.
An interesting excursion from Beauvais which can also appeal to walking enthusiasts are the WWI battlefields dotting the area, particularly those of the Somme. In this battle some 400,000 British soldiers were killed or wounded. A good starting point to explore the site is the museum built into the old ramparts at Peronne, which depicts the reality of war from the ordinary soldier’s viewpoint. After this you can walk around some of the preserved trenches and imagine the conditions yourself.
The cuisine of the region of Picardie is wide and varied, with specialities including wild boar, venison, freshwater fish and lamb from the salt marshes. A good place to sample this cuisine is Le Marignan on rue de Malharbe, with its fine restaurant and brasserie.
Beauvais is about an hour from Paris by train, with services running regularly throughout the day. To reach Beauvais by plane, fly to Paris and then take the train or a bus service to the city.
Beauvais is located to the north of Paris, in the Picardy region. It has an international airport, a rail connection and a major highway running north and south on the outskirts of town. All the major ferry ports on the English Channel are also nearby.
Beauvais-tille Airport, sometimes referred to as Paris-Beauvais Airport, is situated five kilometres to the north of the city centre. It is used primarily by charter and no-frills airlines as a gateway to the French capital, avoiding the crowds of Paris’ two main airports: Charles de Gaulle and Orly.
Visitors coming to Beauvais as a destination can therefore usually find good deals. Ryanair offers several flights a day to Beauvais from the UK and Ireland. A taxi to the town centre is about €10. If you can’t get on a budget flight, fly to Charles de Gaulle and catch the bus or train to Beauvais. Trains go from the Gare du Nord.
By car from Paris, Beauvais is 80kms (one hour) to the north on the A16 toll-way. From Calais, head south on the A16 motorway for just over 200kms to reach Beauvais. Brussels is roughly 280kms (three hours) to the northeast. Take the A7 south from Brussels, leading on to the A2 and eventually the A1 south. From the A1, take the E44 west to Amiens, then the A16 south to Beauvais.
Beauvais is just over an hour away by train from the Paris gare du Nord station, and trains leave throughout the day at half past the hour. From Lille, trains go every hour via Paris Nord and take 2 hours, 30 minutes. The train station in Beauvais is only a short walk from the centre of town; take avenue de la République, then turn right up rue de Malherbe.