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Day 4 Via Turonensis from Avrigny to Gisors, 90 km

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

At eight in the morning, we're already on the road. Floky doesn't want to have breakfast at our soulless little hotel. He wants to find a boulangerie along the way where they have delicious fresh petits pains and aromatic café au lait. Initially, things don't go so well. Google leads us onto a path through beautiful fields, but the path is in a miserable condition. So, we decide to search and eventually find a decent C-road or communal road. After an hour of cycling, we finally find a warm bakery in Breuil-le-sec that even makes small chocolate-covered donuts, croissants, and fresh chocolate pastries. We buy quite a lot because Floky is quite the eater.

Drying flax, Floris stops to have a bite, the n narthex of the Saint Peter church

We continue cycling through the refreshing Forêt domaniale Hez-Froidment, passing the village of la Rue-Saint-Pierre with a small St. Pierre church featuring a beautiful stone narthex, a kind of vestibule meant for catechumens and non-believers who couldn't attend the Holy Mass. Moving through a calm, rolling landscape, we reach Beauvais via Bresles, where wheat is being harvested abundantly. We also see flax fields for the first time, where the flax is laid out to dry in the sun after being harvested.

Choir, north and south facade of Beauvais cathedral

Beauvais has a history dating back to the Gallo-Roman era as Caesaromagus. The city walls are nearly gone today. During the Middle Ages, Beauvais became famous and wealthy due to its textile production, particularly Beauvais linen. The wealth is reflected in the cathedral. The city suffered heavily from bombings during both WWI and WWII. In 1979, Beauvais got an airport that welcomed airlines like Ryanair.

The construction of the cathedral began in 1225 and lasted for three centuries. However, what we see today is not a complete cathedral but only the choir and transept of a late Gothic cathedral. It was never finished, but it impresses with the height of the vaults in the three bays of the choir. The cathedral has the highest Gothic choir in the world, with a vaulted height of 48.50 meters (compared to 34 meters at Notre Dame de Paris). If completed, it would have been one of the largest buildings in the world.

Yet, hubris comes with consequences, and part of the choir collapsed in 1284. The repairs lasted until 1347 but stalled due to the Hundred Years' War in Christian Europe. In the 16th century, the works resumed. In 1569, the tower spire reached a height of 153 meters, but in 1573, the tower spire and bell tower collapsed. The vaults of the transept were then rebuilt, but there wasn't enough money to construct the nave. Thus, the cathedral remains unfinished. Inside, many supports are still needed to keep the structure straight. Nevertheless, the whole ensemble is impressive and beautiful. Particularly noteworthy is the southern entrance of the transept in flamboyant Gothic style. The northern entrance used to feature a beautiful Tree of Jesse, but all the statues were lost during the French Revolution.

Inside the cathedral, there is beautiful furniture, including a medieval astronomical clock that still works. The pulpit is also unique and depicts the battle between David and Goliath. The good prevails over evil in the Old Testament, and this theme carries the pulpit itself where the New Testament is preached.

Stained glas windows, pulpit and and supports in Beauvais cathedral

After visiting the cathedral, we have a coffee on Place de l’hôtel de Ville. There, we meet a German couple from Berlin named Aatje and Alexander. Alexander runs a publishing house and listens with great interest to Floky explaining what we're doing, all while having a German Riese Muller bike.

During this time, Floky gets stung by a wasp on his neck, and we all rush to help since he's allergic to such stings. He calls grandma since she knows all about it. Opi goes to a pharmacy, which provides relief with some pills and ointment, and after an hour, we can continue. Floky can even eat a pizza from a warm bakery, and we're back on our bikes.

The rest of the afternoon is spent cycling calmly and checking on Floky regularly. He's brave and perseveres, and around 6 pm, we reach Gisors. Magda has found a tiny flat for 30 euros. As you can see in the photos there is just enough space to move around. I walk to a nearby Lidl, and with a microwave oven, we have a delicious meal. We go to bed early since tomorrow awaits us with 125 km to Chartres.

Aagje and Alexander, the ramparts of Beauvais, our tiny flat

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