Administrative centre of the Oisedépartement in the Picardy region of north-central France, situated 76 km/47 mi northwest of Paris at the confluence of the Thérain and Avelon rivers; population (2005 est) 55,100. It is a trading centre for fruit, dairy produce, and agricultural machinery. Manufacturing industries include carpets, woollens, brushes, tractors, and furniture covers. Beauvais is the seat of a bishopric, has the tallest Gothic cathedral in France (St Pierre, 68 m/223 ft), and was renowned for tapestries. The town centre suffered serious bomb damage in 1940, and was rebuilt in a modern style.
The cathedral was planned to be the greatest church ever built, but the original construction, which commenced in 1227, was never finished. Its choir, built from 1250, was the tallest of any Gothic cathedral (48 m/158 ft), but it collapsed in 1284, as did the tower in 1573. Flamboyant transept facades were added in 1499. An earlier cathedral, the Basse-Euvre, dates from 997.
History In 1472, Jeanne Hachette, a courageous local woman, defended the town against Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy. An annual procession, in which the women precede the men, takes place in the town each June to commemorate this siege.
Tapestries In 1664 Louis XIV founded several royal tapestry factories, including one at Beauvais. These factories were to dominate European tapestry production for the next 200 years. In the 19th century, as the popularity of tapestries declined, the factory at Beauvais also began to specialize in furniture covers, eventually amalgamating with another royal factory at Gobelins in Paris. The factory returned to Beauvais in 1989, when it was re-opened by the French president, François Mitterrand.
Features The Tapestry gallery displays examples of both medieval and modern tapestries. The Oise county museum is situated in a 12th-century building. The Elispace, a large concert and sports arena, opened here in September 1999. Beauvais also has a growing international airport.