Saint Denis: Two types of kings

Follow the red line from the sacred to the profane in the town of Saint Denis where there are two types of kings; from the Basilique Saint Denis, the burial place of the kings of France to the Stade de France where the kings of football play.

The metro runs to the foot of the Basilica then there is a red line traced on the sidewalks between these two monuments so you won’t get lost in the spaghetti of Saint Denis and the autoroutes. From the Stade de France there are a choice of well marked metros to get you back home or you can continue to walk along the Canal Saint Denis to Porte de la Villette.

Take an audio guide tour of the Basilica and learn about the kings of France, and funerary monuments  as well as Gothic architecture. The Basilica is a major work of Gothic art, this church was the first to place a great importance on light, a symbol of divinity. It was  designed by Abbot Suger, kings’ adviser from 1135 to 1144, and completed in the 13th century during the reign of Saint Louis. They recently have cleaned the façade and added a contemporary altar and lectern that are a magnificent juxtaposition.

Saint Denis

Basilique Saint-Denis, façade occidentale © P. Cadet / Centre des monuments nationaux – Photo de presse.

The church is also a museum of sculpture featuring over 70 recumbent statues and monumental tombs from the Renaissance and Gothic periods. this is the largest collection of funerary sculpture from the 12th to the 16th centuries in Europe. It is the final resting place of the kings and queens of France. Built on the grave of Saint Denis, a Bishop of Paris who died in 250 AD, the royal abbey of Saint-Denis was, from the death of King Dagobert in 639 AD until the 19th century, the burial place of 43 kings, 32 queens and 10 servants to the monarchy. You’ll find the tombs of François Ier, Henri II and Catherine de Médicis and Charles Martel just to name a few. #basiliquesaintdenis

Another architectural phenomenon is the National Stadium which offers guided insider tours, in English or French, that take you down the red carpet to the locker rooms of your football or concert stars. You get to run into the stadium in the same corridor as Zidane, Griezmann and Mbappe; sit on the same bench as Madonna or the Rolling Stones. You’ll also see the stadium prison and the VIP rooms and learn how that floating canopy is held up! This huge stadium seats 80,000 people (it will hold the entire city of Londonderry, England or Missoula, Montana at once) and was inaugurated in 1998 just in time for France to win their first FIFA World Cup. Our guide also injected a certain amount of humor and allowed for plenty of questions. It’s a fun tour that last and hour and a half. You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy it. Give yourself extra time to visit the museum of concert posters and athletic memorabilia. #stadedefrance

Saint Denis

©Stade de France® Macary, Zublenaet Regembal, Costantini Architectes© ADAGP Paris 2016 ©F. Aguilhon C. Jamet

Get out of town to Saint Denis to visit the kings. Practical information can be found at the following links. It is best to check opening times at the Basilica for the day you want to go as there can be changes according to holy days. And be sure to reserve your tour at the Stade de France.

Basilique Saint Denis

Stade de France

20 juillet 2021 10 h 00 min

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