Built over 4 centuries, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Senlis, probably one of the smallest in France (70m long and 19m wide), is a perfect example of the change from Early Gothic style to Rayonnant-Gothic style. With its portal featuring the Virgin Mary, a masterpiece of 12th century Gothic sculpture, its remarkable, 13th century Gothic south tower and the Flamboyant-Gothic transept facades, Notre-Dame de Senlis ranks among the finest cathedrals in France, after a long, painstaking restoration of the portal and sculptures which now reveal their original colours.
Senlis, have a medieval city break in the town of the Capetians !
As well as the cathedral, Senlis has many other treasures like half-timbered houses, Gallo-Roman and medieval ramparts, the royal castle, cobbled streets and mansions.
In fact, the Art and History town is a museum in itself which has stood the test of time and left its mark on the history of France. The historic centre has retained its medieval appearance with rows of half-timbered and cut stone houses. Its narrow streets, lined with bollards to stop damage from cart wheels, are named after trades from that period : rue de la Tonnellerie (barrel-making), rue de la Tannerie (tanning), etc.
The medieval town is nicknamed « Le Petit Hollywood », as more than 150 films have been made here thanks to its medieval architecture, its typical little shops, Gothic cellars and underground passages. These include Peau d’Ane by Jacques Demy, Vous n’aurez pas l’Alsace et la Lorraine by Coluche and more recently Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table ! (Me, Myself and Mum) by Guillaume Gallienne.
Close-up on the Amphitheatre !
Much older than the cathedral, the cobbled streets and the vaulted cellars beneath the town, even older than the Gallo-Roman wall which surrounds the town, the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre is the only preserved one left in Northern France. It was originally one of around fifty in Gaul in use between the 1st and 5th centuries A.D.