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he Basilica Cathedral of Saint Denis is a historical masterpiece located in the suburb of Saint-Denis, just north of Paris. It’s one of the most significant attractions in all of France, revered as the first grand example of Gothic architecture and the resting place for numerous French kings and queens. With its breathtaking ambience, it succeeds in tying together history, art, architecture, and spirituality into a beautiful bow.

History

The Basilica Cathedral of Saint Denis holds a significant place in French history. Dating back to the 12th century, the cathedral is said to be built over the tomb of Saint Denis, Paris’s first bishop. The church served as the burial ground for French royalty, with most kings and queens from the 10th to the 18th centuries buried there. The architecture was groundbreaking in its time, setting the stage for Gothic architectural style with its innovative use of rib vaults and flying buttresses.

How to Get There

Saint Denis is easily accessible from central Paris. By metro, you can take line 13 and get off at the Basilique de Saint-Denis station. If you’re traveling by train, the Saint-Denis station is served by RER D and line H. Once there, the Basilica is a short walk (approximately five minutes) from the station. Driving is not recommended due to heavy traffic and limited parking spaces.

List of Attractions

Being a royal necropolis, the Basilica Cathedral of Saint Denis has attractions that are both architectural and historical in nature:

  1. The Tombs: The final resting place of many French monarchs, including such luminaries as Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Catherine de’ Medici.
  2. The Choir: The earliest example and masterpiece of high Gothic architecture. It’s meticulously detailed and houses the oldest stained glass windows in France.
  3. The Crypts: The ancient crypts provide an eerily beautiful experience.
  4. The Facade: Worth a look for its intricate detailing and grand entrance, showcasing an array of saint sculptures.
  5. The Recumbents: A collection of 70 sculptures of French monarchs.

Ticket Information

Tickets for accessing the entirety of the Cathedral cost 9 euros for adults, while EU residents aged between 18 to 25 can enter for free. Audio guides are available for a minimal additional fee. Children under 18 enter free with a paying adult.

List of Tips for Visiting

  1. Dress appropriately: This is a site of spiritual importance, thus modest clothing is advised.
  2. Bring a guidebook: The history and symbolism in the Basilica is vast, so having background information will greatly enrich your experience.
  3. Plan your trip: Check the Basilica’s official website for its opening hours, as it occasionally closes for religious services.
  4. Start early: To find the place less crowded, beginning your tour early in the day is highly recommended.
  5. Take your time: With so much history and artistry to soak in, rushing through the Basilica would be a mistake.

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