Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis (Basilique Cathédrale de Saint-Denis)
This 12th-century abbey and church are considered a bridge between Romanesque and Gothic architecture. They also house the tombs of all but three of France’s monarchs from the 10th to 18th centuries. Join a guided tour of the church for insights into its importance, or visit independently with a pre-purchased skip-the-line ticket or pass—the Paris Pass, Paris City Pass, Paris Museum Pass, and Panthéon & Basilique de Saint-Denis Multi-Pass all include Saint-Denis—to avoid delayed entrance.
Things to know before you go
- Its unique mix of Romanesque and Gothic elements and numerous royal tombs make the basilica an interesting stop for both architecture buffs and French history enthusiasts.
- Cover your shoulders and knees to avoid being refused entry to this and other historic Parisian churches.
- Bring your camera to capture the interiors and stained glass rose windows.
- The church is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to get there
The Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis is located in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, best reached by metro line 13 (the station is Basilique de Saint-Denis). The travel time is about 20 minutes from the city center. Alternatively, book a sightseeing tour of the city that includes transportation to skip the hassle of public transportation.
When to get there
One of the highlights of the church is its splendid stained glass windows, both tucked under the soaring Gothic arches of the nave and in the huge rose windows on the facade. Try to visit on a sunny day in the bright midday hours to fully experience (and photograph) their colors.
Saint-Denis’ most famous royal residents
In addition to the remains of Saint-Denis, the patron saint of France, the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis is the final resting place for most of France’s royalty. The most prominent tombs belong to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, infamously beheaded in the French Revolution, and the mummified heart of their 10-year-old son Dauphin. Also entombed are Napoleon Bonaparte; Louis IX, the only French king to be canonized a saint; and Louis XIV, known as the sun king.
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