Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Basilica Saint Denis. Resting Place of Kings and Queens of France

We find that we learn more after a trip to the many places that we have visited due to blogging. You tend to research these places when posting - that's a great thing because it opens your eyes to the facts and figures behind the great sights. Basilica Saint Denis was one of these experiences.

We caught the Metro out to Saint Denis. It was another of those "Must See" places on our list. I was intrigued by the legend behind the Basilica. The story unfolds with the legend of the first Bishop of Paris being beheaded at the hill of Montmartre and then with head in hands, he walked to the site of the now Basilica where he was buried. A Martyrium was built over his remains. This was followed by a church commissioned by Saint Genevieve, Patron Saint of Paris.

The Basilica holds the remains of France's many past kings and queens. Dagobert I (639), the last king of the Merovington dynasty is buried here along with Clovis I (511) . I must learn more of him as he seems to have been a most powerful reigning King over France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Nederlands.

Basilica Saint Denis

We marvelled at the tombs, effigies and the thought that we were walking amongst centuries of French royalty. The history of French rule existed within the confines of Saint Denis Basilica. The artistry of the tombs is amazing.

Most amazing of all was the tomb of Louis XII and Anne Bretagne - looking more closely you see them lying naked with expressions that would be described as at their moment of death. Above these effigies are the couple in prayer and possibly contemplating their own mortality. Who knows, but to see it is to form your own opinion.

Further below in the crypt and the foundations of the earlier church where Saint Denis was believed to have been buried lay stone coffins. Where we were standing took us back to around 260 AD when Saint Denis was said to have been buried here.

We would have to say to anyone visiting Paris to take the day and hop on the Metro to Saint Denis - don't rush it, take time to absorb centuries of French Royalty history. I think it deserves a second visit after publishing this post. It's a shame I didn't know more before our visit, I would have been richer for it.


  1. We have the exact same problem. When we got home after a visit and do research for the photos, only then do we discover all the things that we missed!
    Some great photos here, especially the stained glass windows. I am not good at getting the lighting right! Excellent post. Keep well Diane

    1. Happens all the time but we are richer for the research and so are our readers hopefully. As for the photos - just luck Diane. The little point and shoot pocket camera needs to be replaced for the next trip.

  2. G'day. We visited the Basilica when in Paris a couple of years ago. Spent a few hours there and just loved it. I actually liked it better that Notre Dame. Take care. Liz...

  3. Tend to agree Liz - and not so many visitors than Notre Dame but you need to see both when in Paris - Yes?


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