Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Archaeology & History Sites in Oise

Beauvais Cathedral

From 1569 to 1573 this cathedral was the highest human construction in the world. The choir is still the highest Gothic choir in the world. Construction of the church began in 1225, but it remains incomplete: the choir and transept are complete, with the nave never built. The 10th century Romanesque cathedral still stands where the nave should have been. Inside the church are 15th and 17th century tapestries, but it is for the 13th, 14th and 16th century stained glass windows that the cathedral is particularly admired.

Château de Chantilly

What is today one of France’s finest Renaissance castles was built on the site of an 11th century fortress that had command of the road between Senlis and Paris. Through eight centuries of tumultuous history, Chantilly Castle passed between a number owners, and modifications, before it became an exceptional art museum, the Musée Condé. Besides the art galleries, visitors can explore the private suites, lavishly decorated in 18th century décor. In the grounds visitors can stroll through the French formal garden and visit the stables – the largest princely stable in Europe, now home to the Museum of the Horse.

Château de Pierrefonds

The castle of Pierrefonds was built in rapid time, ten years, and completed in 1397 for Louis d’Orléans, son of King Charles V. During the reign of Louis XIII the castle was besieged and reduced to a ruin, later being referred to as the ‘romantic ruin’. Under Napoleon’s III orders, the French architect Viollet-le-Duc started to restore the ruins in the second half or the 19th century. But much of what we see at Pierrefonds today, both inside and out, is Viollet-le-Duc’s reinterpretation of Renaissance and Middle Ages architecture of France. Nonetheless, there is still much to see of the original castle fort, whether by self-guided tour or a guided tour.

Palace of Compiègne

Charles V had the first castle built here, which was nearly complete on his death in 1380. It was a favourite summer retreat with a number of succeeding kings of France. But the Neoclassical castle we see today owes much to Louis XV who liked to hunt in the adjacent forest. His grandson, Louis XVI, had new wings added. Following the French revolution the furniture and art was sold, and the castle became the home of a military academy until Napoleon I chose to live here. Napoleon had the castle substantially refurbished, some of the décor and furnishings can still be seen today. Open to the public are the grandest imperial apartments of the First Empire. The palace also houses the National Car Museum.

Vendeuil-Caply Gallo-Roman Theatre

This Roman theatre built at the end of the 1st century AD is now all that is visible to the public from what was a medium sized Roman town that covered at least 130 hectares. Although not particularly well preserved, much of the basic structure is still evident. Set on the side of a hill in rolling agricultural land now under cultivation,  this small theatre, with a diameter of 81 m, was constructed into the side of the hill. Some reinforcing architectural elements have been exposed. Besides two sets of steps leading of the rectangular stage, there is also a small shrine, at the centre of the semi-circle arc.

Museums & Art Galleries in Oise

Musée Condé

Housed in the Château de Chantilly, the museum has one of the most important collections of art in France after the Louvre. In 1886  Henri d’Orléans, then Duke of Aumale, gave his castle and its contents to the Institut de France. Among the Old Masters are exceptional works by Raphaël, Fra Angelico, Nicolas Poussin and Delacroixe. The museum also has exceptional collections of prints, 350 portrait miniatures, sculptures, antiques, 2,000 old photographs, decorative arts, furniture and porcelain.

Oise Archaeology Museum

The Musée Archéologique de l’Oise is a delightful regional museum that houses the collections of artefacts from local excavations. Displays range from Palaeolithic stone axes, to polished Neolithic axes, and many finds from the Roman occupation of the valley within which the museum is set. This amounts to over 30 years worth of excavating the Roman town. Artefacts on display include items that relate to aspects of everyday life, as well as a number of human and animal figurines and fragments of wall painting.