Residence Les Jardins de Bourbons

18, rue du Verger, St-Denis, Ile-de-France, 97400, France
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More about Saint-Denis

Photos

remains of an ancient chapelremains of an ancient chapel

modern mediaeval saint denismodern mediaeval saint denis

South entranceSouth entrance

Looking west within the basilicaLooking west within the basilica

Travel Tips for Saint-Denis

Central portal

by Diana75

The main entrance of the basilica is on the western facade and both the right and the left door panels are made of bronze.

On the tympanum of the central portal is a motif of the Last Judgment.

The (demolished) old quarter of Saint Denis

by MM212

The large area north of the Basilica of Saint Denis was once the mediaeval quarter of the town of Saint Denis. Unfortunately, by the mid-20th century, the area was terribly rundown and unsafe due to the extensive shortage of housing among the swelling population of immigrants. In the 1970's, the entire neighbourhood was razed and handed to several architects who were assigned the task of building modern housing units for the immigrants. Only the street plan of the ancient town was preserved while the architecture completely turned its back to history and tradition, and made extensive use of concrete and sharp angles (see attached photos). Nowadays, this undertaking is widely regarded as a failed project, not only architecturally but also socially. While it may have temporarily solved a housing crisis, it created a dull immigrant ghetto possibly ripe for isolation, unemployment and crime.

Pepin le Bref and Berthe au Grand Pied tombs

by Diana75

Some of the effigies located in front of the entrance, such as the ones of Pepin le Bref (Pepin the Short) or Charles Martel, were commissioned by St Louis in 1260.

In the picture you can see the tombs of Pepin le Bref and Berthe au Grand Pied, parents of Charlemagne.

Saint-Denis

by MM212

Named after a patron saint of France, Saint Denis is home to one of the most important cathedrals in French history. The town was originally a small Gallo-Roman settlement, Catolacus, but when the first bishop of Paris, Saint Denis, was martyred around 250 AD near Montmartre, he was buried in the cemetery of Catolacus and eventually gave his name to the town. His tomb became a pilgrimage site, which led the Frankish king, Dagobert I, in the 7th century to build a basilica on the site where he too was buried upon his death. Thereafter, most of France's monarchs and their families were laid to rest in this very basilica. In Mediaeval times, an adjacent Benedictine monastery became one of the most powerful abbeys in Europe, thus affording Basilique Saint-Denis an extravagant expansion in the 12th - 13th centuries. Its construction saw the birth of Gothic architecture, a new style which subsequently spread throughout France and the rest of Europe. Its historic and architectural importance makes la Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis a treasured monument, currently on the UNESCO's Tentative List awaiting inscription as a World Heritage Site.

Nowadays, Saint Denis is one of numerous Parisian suburbs, absorbed into the urban sprawl of the French capital. The town's heavy industrialisation in the 19th century changed it into a working class suburb, which attracted a large immigrant population in the following century, mainly from Africa. In a country where immigrants were often marginalised, Saint Denis became synonymous with the plethora of problems associated with a poor foreign population, from crime to unemployment. Do not let this detract you, though, from visiting Saint Denis for it is not unsafe at all to visit and its magnificent Basilique Saint Denis is well worth the detour. It can be reached quite easily by Metro from anywhere in Paris.

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