Basilica of Saint Denis
For centuries, the kings and queens of France were buirried at the Basilica at Saint Dnnis. Nearly every king from the 10th - 18th century were buried at the Saint Denis Basilica. The tombs were desecrated during the revolution. After the revolution the remains were re-interred in the basilica in a necropolis. Royals after the revolution (including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette) were also buried at Saint Denis.
What to see
There are three major things worth seeing at the basilica.
Firstly, the basilica itself is worth seeing. It is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The building was previously part of an abbey. The abbey no longer exists, but the basilica is the abbey church
Secondly, the funeral statuary on the main floor of the church is outstanding. When the revolutionaries desecrated the church they did not destroy the funeral statues. These were removed from the basilica for protection and were returned after the revolution was over. There is funeral statuary dating back to the 10th century. The more recent additions include Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette's statuary. An audio guide in English is available. Tours are offered in French.
Thirdly, the crypt, below the main basilica. Here there is the necropolis where the remains of the royal family's from France's history have been placed. As it was impossible to separate the remains of individuals once they had been disinterred, those who restored them had no choice but to place their remains in a common tomb. Those who died after the revolution, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, have been buried in individual graves in the crypt. Also in the crypt are archaeological remains of part of the original church with a number of the ancient coffins on display. There is also a small relicary in the crypt.
Things to do
How to get there
The easiest way to get to the Saint Denis basilica is by Metro (line 13). This should cost 1.70 Euro.
Take the metro in the direction of Saint-Denis-Universite. Take the "Basilique de St-Denis".
The basilica is 5 minutes walk from the metro station and the route is signposted. The Metro exit takes you out to Place Jean Jaures. Head straight through the square to to Rue de la Republic. Turn right and the basilica is directly in front of you.
While we have never had any issues, it should be noted that Saint-Denis is not the nicest area around Paris and has been the sight of some violence in the past. You should be careful remaining after dark in the area.
Approximate Distance from Paris: 10km/ 6mi
Time to get there: About 15 minutes on the Metro with a 5
minute walk at Saint Denis.
Transport Method: Metro line 13 to 'Basilique de St-Denis'
Approximate Price: Entry is into the Basilica is free, entry into
the area containing the funeral statuary is
7.50 Euro. Metro ticket is 1.70 Euro per
person each way
Worth: Several hours to half a day
Website: http://saint-denis.monuments-nationaux.fr (available in English)