The story goes that Saint Denis, now Patron Saint of Paris, upsetting the pagan priests, was marched up the hill, of what is now Montmartre, and his head was chopped off.
Picking up his severed head, Saint Denis continuing on, for 10 kilometres, preaching a sermon along the way, until finally, he dropped dead.
Where he died, is now the site of the Basilica Saint Denis, in his honour and also the burial place of the kings of France.
I took the 30 minute metro journey to the area of Saint Denis, just outside the Paris periphery, to take a look at the basilica, a suggestion from my Paris Greeter.
As I turned the corner, I discovered, half of the basilica was surrounded in scaffolding, I was somewhat disappointed. I guess they have to do restoration work at some point.
The Paris Greeter said that in her opinion, Basilica Saint Denis was more beautiful, on the inside, than the Notre Dame, and I think she is right. A magnificent gothic building with an abundance of stained glass windows.
Initially, I was surprised at the €7.50 entrance fee for the crypt and viewing of the sculptures but, later I was to discover, it was worth every centime. Arriving late in the afternoon, 1.5 hours before closing, I wasn’t worried. How much time could you spend in a basilica? I could have spent, easily over 2 hours there.
The area of Saint Denis, is nothing to write home about, or blog about, however after wrapping my freezing hands around a hot chocolate at the cafe opposite to discover I had no cash and they didn’t take cards, I was warmed inside too. The reason being, the waiter, trusting that I would return with the money, pointed out an ATM, quite a distance from the cafe, where I could withdraw. When I returned, cash in hand, I offered a sorry, no problems, he told me. I wandered around the town but didn’t have much time to spare. I had a French Quiz evening to attend and needed to get back to the centre of Paris.
A while back, I came across a Meet-Up Group called Paris If You Please, organised by a warm, welcoming Englishman, who has been living in Paris for many years.
The first night I arrived in Paris, this year, I attended one of their get togethers and wasn’t disappointed. Sab, the organiser promised he would organise a quiz night before I left.
Split into groups of two, Sab conducted a fun night, asking us questions, showing photos and getting us to draw, Pictionary style, from the clues presented to us. I was teamed up with The Brains Trust, a lovely American woman, who has been living in Paris for 10 years, how could we lose.
The first question was to list the last seven French presidents, I was nervous, but The Brains Trust, scribbled them out onto the piece of paper, with ease. Later came questions I could deal with, 7 bridges, 7 parks, the second narrowest street in Paris, we were on a roll!
The Brains Trust and I were presented with a lovely print each, a prize, for coming first. I might have been showing off a bit, but we were winners and grinners!
A lovely group of around 35 people French and expats, my only disappointment was, that I met them too late into my visit to Paris.