|Although some of our
guidebooks warned of its 'dicey' neighborhood, we decided to risk a trip
to the Basilica of St. Dennis on the northern outskirts of Paris. On arrival
Saturday morning, we really couldn't see what the concern was.
The church is just around the corner from the Metro station and its stained glass windows were magnificent. The church was built on the burial site of St. Dennis, supposedly on the spot he managed to get to while carrying his head after his execution. The crypt has burials going back to the Merovingian kings of the 4th century and the kings of France were buried here for centuries. The oriflame, the French battle flag, was kept here and an inscription near the front door commemorates Joan of Arc's appearance at the church in 1429 to have her arms blessed before going off to battle the English. During the Revolution, the kings were dug up, their treasures transferred to state storehouses and the remains reburied in a common grave to eliminate the possibility of the site becoming a rallying point for royalists. After the restoration of Louis XVIII in 1814 the bodies were located and reburied - although some of the identities were not certain. Louis XVIII's coronation regalia are on display here, too.
After touring the church, we took the Metro to see some of Paris' 'passages' - covered walkways or arcades lined with shops selling all sorts of curious things. We ate lunch at a small café in an arcade dominated by stamp and coin dealers (with a few postcard stores thrown in for good measure), then walked to another that had stores selling old children's books, comic books, posters and current postcards of Tintin and Asterix.
For dinner Saturday, we took the metro to the neighborhood Dave, James & Rob stayed in when they were in Paris last year. The Italian restaurant they recommended was superb - with perhaps six tables and a kitchen no bigger than ours. We shared a salad caprese, and then dove into a veal and eggplant parmagiana. Amazing, and yet typical of the great food and service we had throughout our visit.