In a northern suburb of the City of Light, the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis is a stone abbey dating back to the medieval time period. Construction began as early as 1135, so it’s a remarkable landmark to see still standing today. The cathedral was the first built in France in the Gothic architectural style, noted for its intricate stained glass and a statue collection representative of the era. It is attributed with signaling the shift from Romantic to Gothic styles of architecture. Though it is one of the lesser known churches of France, it is respected both for its beauty and historical and cultural significance.
The church is also the final resting place for much of France’s royalty. A walk past the burial chambers and tombs of kings and queens of France tells centuries of the country’s history. Long a place of pilgrimage, all but three of France’s monarchs from the 10th to 18th century were buried there. With all of its history, many opt to take a guided tour through the church or add it on to a day of sightseeing in Paris.
The basilica is located in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, best approached by metro line 13 (the station is Basilique de Saint-Denis.) The travel time is about 20 minutes. Tickets cost 9€ and can be purchased in person or in advance online. The area dedicated to worship is free to enter.