Another successful buying trip to France for those that kept up with us--we were very busy and productive but were able to sneak one day in to relax. We had worked through all of our appointments and were far ahead of schedule before we needed to head back to Paris from Normandy for our return flight home. With no clear plan in mind, and no set lodging to speak of, Renee and I decided to make an unscheduled stop in the cathedral town of Beauvais on our way back to Paris. I remembered studying the cathedral when I was at school in France and remembered that it was particularly of interest for its Gothic architecture, lack of a nave, and for boasting the tallest quire in the world, what Eugene Viollet-le-Duc called the “Pantheon of French Gothic”.
We decidedly drove to Beauvais and organized lodging while on the road. After we were settled in, we went out for dinner. The heat wave or “La Canicule” as the French called it had been heavy in the air for a few days already, so dinner was a delight. We ended up in a place which served fresh and light fare. The owner of the restaurant was surprised to hear that we’d decided to come to Beauvais on a whim and told us that we were indeed lucky. Apparently we were to be there for the local festival of Jeanne Hachette, a heroine from the late 15th century who in 1472, inspired by Joan of Arc, defended the walls of the city of Beauvais against an attaching Burgundian force and cut down the Duc of Burgundy’s flag that had been hoisted atop one of the towers the enemy had penetrated.
After dinner we made our way toward the famed cathedral to see the light show.
The following day we went back to the cathedral for Mass, where we had been told of a performance by a choir from Romania. The acoustics in the church were an absolute marvel.
Our spontaneous visit was complete with the medieval parade and feast. Beauvais was indeed a complete surprise!