Monday, 30 January 2012

St. Denis, to the north of Paris, where we spent the last few days, is famous for its Basilica.

It is widely acknowledged as the birthplace of the  Gothic  style of architecture in France and the model for Notre Dame in Paris.
This influence can be seen in the flying buttresses at the eastern end of the cathedral.

Legend has it that St. Denis converted France to Christianity and the Romans beheaded him at the Butte Montmatre. Denis (as he was known then) picked up his head and walked with it to the village where the town of St. Denis now stands. The village, in recognition of this great feat, changed its name.

This  is also illustrated in the carving over the north door of the cathedral.

The town of St. Denis grew in population and reputation with the establishment of an abbey and all the supporting trades.

Its standing was further enhanced by the monarchs of France all deciding to be buried in the Basilica of St. Denis.

Their sepulchres can be viewed on payment of seven euros but their remains were scattered around the countryside during the various revolutions which France suffered.
(They also renamed the city Franciade for a time)

It is quite possible to see many of the sepulchres without paying as the striped tape does not provide a particularly effective visual barrier.

The architecture of St. Denis is not all Gothic in style, however.

In the 1970s the town was brought up to date with this shopping development.

A few decades later the heritage bug appeared and the  town hall was given a new glass extension which also incorporated  a chapel at lease 1000 years older.
Incorporated may be the wrong word - attached probable reflects the process more accurately.

There is an interesting and informative self-guided walk which takes in the history of the area from the 6th to the 21st century.  As we followed it we came across this sign which, given some of the events over this period should be taken seriously.

The message on this disabled parking sign translates as:

If you take my space, 
take my disability

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