Saturday 21 November 2015

La Basilique de Saint Denis

Saint Denis has been in the news this week, for all the wrong reasons. It is never good to be reduced to a hashtag. #SaintDenis. Thankfully I have happier memories of Saint Denis in 2013.

The area of Saint Denis is not really on the tourist trail. It is a northern suburb of Paris, easily accessible on the Metro, and the draw for me was a visit to the rather amazing Basilique de Saint Denis, an incredible gothic cathedral which serves as the Royal Necropolis for France. Fascinating stuff. I meant to do this post way back in 2013, but well I didn't, and so I've forgotten some details.

A side view

Poor old Saint Denis always without his head

The front was undergoing restoration
when I visited in 2013

Joan is never far away at any French church as there is usually a statue of her,
but Joan actually visited here for a blessing in 1429.

Extraordinary robes and crowns used in
anniversary services for the death of

I always love a rose window

François 1er and Claude de France

Tomb of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne

Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Their feet were most often resting on animals, often lions,
sometimes dogs or other animals. 

Henry II and Catherine de Médicis

The crypt was amazing. I still remember how cool and eerie it was on this rather hot Paris summer afternoon. 

The tomb of Saint Denis

Poor old Saint Denis again.
I think they could have left out the spurting and dripping. 
The heart of Louis XVII
(son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette)

I felt sad for Louis XVII that his heart was in a jar centuries after his death. He saw his parents beheaded, the monarchy overthrown and he was to die just a few years later himself in 1795, still only a boy of 10. I'm not sure how it came to be that his heart was in a jar, but it was given to the Basilica in 1975 and after authentication it has been on display since 2004.

I read the marvellous Paris to the Past (see my review) as preparation for my visit to the basilica and I certainly appreciated it all the more because of it.

I spent a fabulous few hours in Saint Denis Basilica, the admission of 7,50 € is definitely a bargain. As ever I would suggest you get the audio tour if you're lucky enough to visit.

Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly meme
 now hosted by 

All About France a monthly
love fest for France


Jackie McGuinness said...

My kind of place!! you should post it at Sally and Beth host inSPIREd Sunday!

Jeanie said...

A very nice piece, Louise, reminding us of the beauty, not the carnage.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

When I see photos like this, I remember that we in America have nothing.

Brona said...

Beautiful photos Louise. I love how you show us off-the-beaten-track images of Paris. I have the Paris in the Past book which I'm saving for our next day...*sigh*

I've always had a thing for Joan ever since studying her at school - what a woman!

Ginx Craft said...

What a wonderful place to visit. I'm a bit squeamish about the heart in the jar!

Tamara said...

Memories like this are worth sharing. Thanks - especially given recent events. I've not done this little excursion, and as you say - for the ride on the metro and the entrance fee it seems like such a great learning opportunity. Must do one day :)

Phoebe | Lou Messugo said...

It's such a shame this place isn't visited more or even more well known, but I'm as guilty as anyone; I lived in Paris for 10 years and never went! Thank you for sharing your visit, next time I'm in Paris I'm going to make an effort to get there. Thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance

A Green and Rosie Life said...

What a fabulous church and with so much history attached to it - some quite gruesome by you account. Popping by very late from #AllABboutFrance

Christine Harding said...

Love your account of the visit, and your photos are wonderful - I like the plaque commemorating the fact that Joan of Arc received a blessing here, and the rose window s incredible. But Louis VII's heart is a bit gruesome!