Sunday morning we woke up to a beautiful day. My friend Jonny was still in Iceland hiking and wouldn’t be back until about 10pm. We were excited to spend the day in a small town and our stuff was so hidden from anything, we left everything that wasn’t super important in the field where we camped. Hidden even more under some brush we walked into town.
We were hungry and Kristin needed to go to the bathroom. As we walked down the street we could smell a pastry shop from blocks away and followed our nose. The only problem was no bathroom so we walked across the street to the only other spot open called All Chicken. They had a posted sign ‘bathrooms for customers only’ so we felt inclined to eat there. We shared a wrap and some fries and sat down. What we think is the owner of the place was working behind the counter and was interested to have travelers to converse with. He logged our phones into his wifi for us and even looked up stuff for us to do. Neither of us speak french and he could barely speak english but it was great talking to him and an even better welcome to france.
The Cathedral of Saint Peter of Beauvais “is, in some respects, the most daring achievement of Gothic architecture, and consists only of a transept (sixteenth-century) and choir, with apse and seven polygonal apsidal chapels (thirteenth century), which are reached by an ambulatory.”wiki reference. What does this mean; I have no idea. I think it means it is the highest vaulted cathedral in the Europe. It also houses the oldest fully functioning mid-evil clock in Europe as well. Who would thought this little town would have this monster of history there.
The height of the church looms over the rest of the buildings in the town as it stands now. Shortly after it was built, and after a few good fires, rebuilds and who else knows what, the original spire of the building collapsed. With it, it more than doubles its height. Now this would have been a magnificent sight to see 500 years ago. Unlike many churches of this size that have gotten constant attention and maintenance, this cathedral has had almost none. It has lost complete wings, and currently has massive structural supports to keep it from caving in on itself.
At the airport was an information center for the entire northern region above Paris. Before we left we got a map of the region. There are some amazing things to see there and I wish we had more time to explore the palaces, castles, wineries and mid evil towns. I have been to Paris before and it was just ok. I personally didn’t care too much to come back to france, except to visit my friend Jonny who had moved there almost 2 years before. But after exploring Beauvais alone, I can’t wait to come back to France and explore the country side. Ok, you win Rick Steve, there IS so much to discover here.
We hiked back out of town and grabbed out gear and made our way into paris. the ticket we had gotten from Beauvais to Paris was only about 16eu and after talking about it we discovered it was an all day pass for the entire region. We watched disgustingly little towns fly past as we got closer and closer to the city. In retrospect, if you have time get an open day pass.
It was still early and we had a few hours to burn and the sun was setting so we walked up Montmarte. Another huge church on the top of a really large hill. If you ever saw the movie Amelie it was in that and other I’m sure. Word of the wise, if you come from the bottom and walk to the top, watch your pockets and ignore all the guys trying to scam you it’s like a gauntlet of thievery.
After wandering through the church we sat on the main steps and watched the sun set over Paris. Romantic, beautiful and a great way to begin a visit here. I swear I have pictures for all of this. I will eventually get them uploaded.
After the sun set, we walked down the west side of the hill towards Jonny’s place. With still a little time to burn we stopped by a small cafe and each had an expensive beer. Wifi is hard to find in Paris, McDonald’s should have it, but they shut it down after typical hours or some crap. So you can do what we did, had kristin play the girl card and ask the local bar to sign us into their private network. By 10pm we were sitting in Jonny’s couch drinking, laughing, talking, and catching up and each sharing recent adventures. The best welcome to Paris I could think of.