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"Losing your head- a established Parisian tradition" Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis Tip by CatherineReichardt

  The martyrdom of St Denis
by CatherineReichardt

Nobody who's visited Paris would question the fact that many people lose their heart there - but, less pleasantly, losing your head is also something of a time honoured Parisian tradition.

One is immediately prompted to think of the thousands of people who were ergonomically despatched by the inexhaustable Madame Guillotine in the wake of the French Revolution, but the man who (probably unwillingly) established this tradition was St Denis, patron saint of Paris, and the first Bishop of Paris, who was executed at Montmartre in the mid 3rd century. Legend has it that after his decapitation, he picked up his head and walked 10km - preaching as he went - which is quite a party trick!

This exquisite carving of the event is located above the South Door of the Basilica of St Denis (this door is now permanently closed). To view this, walk through a small gate to the left of the church, which will take you into a small garden, which is also a nice, quiet place to catch your breath and maybe have a picnic.

Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 93200 Saint-Denis,
Directions: Near Passage Pierre Abélard
Phone: +33 1 48 09 83 54

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 31, 2012
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