"Saint-Denis" Top 5 Page for this destination Saint-Denis by MM212

Saint-Denis Travel Guide: 85 reviews and 271 photos

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.

  • Last visit to Saint-Denis: Nov 2010
  • Intro Updated Jan 7, 2012
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