Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saint Denis - cathedral of the French Kings and Queens

Saint Denis Cathedral from the square, not overly impressive from past catherals we have seen but the real jewels of history lay inside.

Saint Denis is on the outer limits of the Metro and has a university. It is largely a working class family district. Its main feature is the cathedral which is the resting place of the early Kings and Queens of France. It is said that Saint Denis after being beheaded near Montmarte, picked up his head and walked to the location of the cathedral where his remains are now buried. Denis arrived in Paris (Lutetia as it was then called) about 250 AD after being sent by Rome to convert the Gauls to christianity.

As cathedrals go, this one excited our interest as it is the burial  place of the first kings and queens of France, or what were the borders of France in the 400s onward. Clovis the 1st (465AD to 511AD) of the Merovingian period 400AD to 500AD. For me, its all too much information to take in on one visit but you can't help but be overawed if you have a sense of history.

The praying statues of Louis XVI and Marie (let them eat cake) Antoinette.

After the revolution and the magic of the guillotine had done it's work on Louis and Marie Antoinette, their bodies were thrown into a pit. At some later date, Napoleon decided they should be buried  in St Denis and ordered their bodies removed from the pit.  All they found were a few bones, and some grey matter attached to a garter, and these were buried with due pomp. Wouldn't the forensic specialists have a field day with that  today!

Louis XII and Anne de Bretange are pictured here in the lower part, dead, naked, with scars from being flayed. Above you can see them represented alive and praying.

Graffiti agaain, this time carved into this beautiful marble statue at the foot of one of the tombs - Graffiti from 1618. Spray cans of today to disfigure but paint can be removed.

Below Saint Denis cathedral are the original foundations of the original church and where the remains of Saint Denis and other Clergy of the time were buried. It was said that Saint Denis was not a very strong bishop and may have been subject to the human flesh himself. The street Rue Saint Denis is just around the corner from us and is populated with sex industry shops. Andrew Hussey in his book "PARIS the secret history" finds this ironic.

Saint Denis would turn in his grave if he knew the street dedicated to him was for the pursuit of human flesh.

You can't visit Paris without taking the trip to Saint Denis cathedral and for a night out, Rue Saint Denis.

As I write this post, we have returned from our last walk around the streets of Paris. Our next post will contain pictures of the walk and some comments. It was an intersting day as we again walked Rue Saint Denis, to Rue de Rivoli and along the Seine just for nostalgia. We spent a few Euro for gifts for family but very concerned with our luggage limit. I'm glad that I personally am not being weighed after all the Confite de Canard, cheese and wine.
Our friends in France have been the highlight of the trip. Carol and Mikee in the Loire were fantastic, despite me throwing up in their toilet bowl, Walt and Ken our blog mates, sorry we missed you Ken - maybe another time.
In Paris, my guardian angel Leigh and his wife Sophie, thanks for dinner and to an extra thanks Leigh for keeping me safe and "unlost", training with you has been a delight.
Michel and Danielle Briat are a couple that make you feel so welcome and have added greatly to our Paris memories for the future. They are a most generous and congenial couple and will be our email/facebook friends into the future.

Paris/France have a reputation as being cold and arrogant. It is not true. In most cases they way people treat you is like a mirror, a reflection of yourself. Be courteous and it is returned from our experience.
I'm told by our frien Walt, this his mate Ken says that people are like oysters, "Most are delicious but occasionally you get a bad one". OK, I might have got that only almost right but I'm sure you get the picture.
For my bike buddies

My mate, Michel's Merckx road bike supplied personally from the great man.

And my single speed steed that I rode in Paris for the last two weeks. I love it.

Next post in 2 days time of our last walk in Paris.
GOSH! its a long way home.


  1. I can't believe you are on your way home so soon but you are lucky because Australia and its people are beautiful so either way, I will be happy to read your blog from Melbourne or anywhere in the world. Glad you had a good time and a big thank you to Sue and you for all the photos and interesting comments. I have actually learned a lot.

  2. Great photos Leon. Glad you both had a good holiday and lets hope the journey home will be OK - an upgrade would be nice!!!!
    Looking forward to your next visit.
    Carol & Michael

  3. Just LOVE all your pics, Leaping!
    You take great photos! :-)

    My SA friend Dannie says I do good pics too, BUT you have farrrr more interesting subject matter ;-)

    Looking fwd to a good ol 4-way natter when we all get home! :-) xx

  4. Happy to read that you got home safely. I hope the journey was 'uneventful'! Martine


Love to get feedback so no reason to be shy - have your say.