Have you heard of the Basilica of Saint Denis? I recently had the enormous pleasure of discovering this incredible building, thanks to my friend Rachel, who had seen a description of it on a British show “The Art of France” on BBC 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08cgq7f
It is located in the northern suburb of Saint Denis, perhaps better known today for the Stade de France soccer stadium. It is an easy metro ride, with a direct stop on the Line 13, and the cost to get there by metro is the standard 1.90 Euro ticket for anywhere within Paris itself.
This building was originally built in the 5th century, and then in the 12th century, became a masterpiece of Gothic art. Suger, the Abbot of Saint Denis at the time, rebuilt it using new architectural techniques, including the rose window and cross-ribbed vaulted ceiling.
This building contains more than 70 headstones, including Catherine de Medici and Lous XVI. There is no charge to enter the main Basilica, but there is a charge of 9 euros to go back to look at the headstones. Believe me when I tell you that it is well worth both the time and the money to see them. The carvings are incredibly detailed:
There was more work done on the building in the 13th century under “Saint Louis” (Louis XIV), then the Abbey fell into decline under the Revolution (1789-1799). It was then restored in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc.
You can buy tickets using this link or simply go to the Basilica and buy them there.