Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hopeful Travel

Travelling on bucket shop airlines can hardly be in the category of grand luxe where one is offered lottery tickets by wide-eyed and enthusiastic cabin staff and you have to pay for the drinks. Fetching up in foreign airports when the bus ride to one’s destination take longer than the flight is hardly business class. It must be admitted, however, that there are one or two hidden advantages. 

Arriving in Beauvais is a delight, not least because one can pick one’s luggage off the arrival carousel within seconds of disembarkation and also because the old town, largely ignored by the travellers being shovelled into buses for Paris, is quiet and its cathedral, optimistically named St Peter's, has the tallest Gothic interior in Europe. They built a spire once, but it fell down, being over a hundred and fifty metres in height, which would have made it the second highest structure in the world in the mid sixteenth century, but its absence takes nothing from the grandeur of a sexpartite vaulted ceiling almost fifty metres high. 
I liked it particularly because, just like the Church, it's not finished. Various builders had tried to develop the structure over the centuries in order to allow maximum light inside and the consequent collapses, trial and error is a masterpiece of hopeful travel, the incomplete nave, originally Roman, a paradigm of the journey of faith we all undertake.


  1. Absolutely awe-inspiring. I would be forced to ignore convention and lay (lie?) down in the middle of the floor to truly examine the ceiling and nave. I would bring binoculars.

  2. You would need them. What impressed me more was the incompleteness of the whole thing - as if one could see inside the minds of the medieval builders whose grandiose ideas had left so many loose ends because of lack of money or will or both.


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