The Basilica of St Denis is the final resting place of the kings and queens of France and the first Gothic church in the world. Its prestige dates from the Middle Ages, when the gothic style of architecture spread throughout northern Europe and the King Saint Louis decided to turn the Basilica into the official Royal necropolis. The Cathedral’s architecture is breathtaking, and the magnificent recumbents and mausoleums within it illustrate the evolution of funerary art. Our professional tour guide will recount the stories of the Kings and Queens who lie there, from Dagobert in the VIth century to Louis XVIII in the XIXth century, including the tombs of King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette. After this tour, you will be able to understand France more deeply and from another perspective.
Many visitors come to France without seeing this unmissable cathedral. Yet we believe it is one of the hidden gems of the city and should not be missed!
The Basilica was named after Denis, patron saint of the Kings, who christianised France in the IIIrd century and who is seen as the first bishop. Denis was decapitated several miles from here, but he rose and carried his head all the way to lie where he saw fit! In 1144 the church became the first ever Gothic style building in the world, many years before Notre Dame. Our professional tour guide will explain the ideas that led to the invention of this new style known then as the French Style.
In the 13th century, it became the French King’s official burial place. Most of the kings and queens of France lie here, from Dagobert in the 7th century to Louis XVIII in 1824!
During the tour, you will see the evolution of funerary art, from mere recumbent figures to very complex mausoleums, inspired by the Italian Renaissance. It is the perfect way for you to be introduced to the capital through the kings who made it. After this tour, you will be familiar with the monuments and main buildings in Paris, as most of them are connected to the kings of France. From their first palace in the Conciergerie to the walls that once surrounded Paris built in 1190 by Philippe Augustus, the fortress of the Louvre, the Tuileries Palace, Versailles and so much more...
Hear the story of when in 1793 the revolutionaries wouldn’t let this church be a symbol for the royalists ,and meticulously dug out every single one of the kings and queens and threw them into a mass graveyard. They broke some tombs and moved others to a museum in Paris. In 1815, the restoration of the monarchy tried to put everything back together, but only did so imperfectly. The glory of the Kings had to be restored and the bodies of the martyrs Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette brought back to the Basilica. But how, after the turmoil of the French Revolution, were their bodies found? Our guide will tell you that story and that of their son, Louis XVII, who died in jail at 10 years old and whose heart is still preserved today in a crystal urn. But is it really his heart? Some say the boy didn’t really die and the body was that of another child. Your private guide will reveal all the secrets, so you make up your own mind about it!
Sunday bookings will give you the opportunity to attend Mass after your visit.
The Mass will start at 6:00 pm from October to March, and at 6:30 pm from April to September.
Note that the Basilica is both a museum and a church. For that reason, very occasionally, due to funerals or exceptional masses the tour could be canceled or postponed. We will of course warn you as early as possible, as we keep in touch with the staff of the Basilica.
From October to April, make sure you are dressed warmly as it can get cold inside the cathedral.
There are a few steps to enter the church and to reach the crypt. The Necropolis museum has special accesses and elevators for disabled people. Please notify us if you need any special accessibility so we can make the arrangements with the staff and ensure the tour goes smoothly for everyone.