Things to do in Paris

Visit the Basilica of Saint Denis to explore Paris’ gothic historic marvel

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Step into the heart of medieval France and discover the splendour of Gothic art, stunning stained glass windows, and the captivating stories that echo through its hallowed halls. Get ready to embark on a journey through time at the Basilica of Saint Denis, a renowned architectural masterpiece which houses the tombs of French kings and queens, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs and culture lovers alike.

Basilica of Saint Denis in a Nutshell

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Handy information

⏰ Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours
☀️ Best Time to Visit:Early morning or late afternoon
🎟️ Skip-the-Line Ticket: €9.50
🚇 Closest Metro: Basilique de Saint-Denis

Must-see at the Basilica of Saint Denis

  • Royal Necropolis
  • Crypt of the Bourbons
  • West Facade and Portal
  • Rose Window
  • North Transept and Ambulatory

Opening Hours

10 AM to 5:15 PM

Closed on January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th

Getting There

1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 93200 Saint-Denis, France
Get Directions

Why is the Basilica of Saint Denis Worth Visiting?

  • Rich Royal History: Uncover the final resting place of French kings and queens, immersing yourself in centuries of royal heritage.
  • Architectural Marvel: Marvel at the Gothic splendour and intricate details of this majestic basilica, a masterpiece of medieval architecture.
  • Stained Glass Delight: Be mesmerized by the dazzling stained glass windows, showcasing vibrant colours and captivating stories.
  • Crypt Exploration: Descend into the crypt to discover hidden chambers and fascinating tombs, delving deeper into history.
  • Tranquil Escape: Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a serene atmosphere within the basilica's peaceful surroundings.

Recommended Basilica of Saint Denis Tickets

Depending on the kind of experience you seek and time in hand, you can choose from a variety of Basilica of Saint Denis tickets.

Basilica of Saint Denis History

As the final resting place of French monarchs like King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, the Basilica exudes an undeniable aura of regal grandeur. The origins of the place can be traced back to the late 3rd century when Saint Denis, a Christian martyr and the patron saint of France, was beheaded on the nearby hill of Montmartre, who, according to legends, carried his own severed head and walked several miles, preaching sermons along the way. Eventually, a small chapel was built on the site of his martyrdom to honor him.

In the 7th century, King Dagobert I decided to expand the chapel and commissioned the construction of a larger church. This marked the beginning of the development of the basilica as a royal necropolis.

Even in pop culture, the basilica has left its mark. Remember the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'? Well, this is where it all began. The influence of this structure reverberates across literature, art, and cinema.

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Architecture of Basilica of Saint Denis

The Basilica of Saint Denis is a captivating masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its soaring vaulted ceilings, intricate stone carvings, and stunning stained glass windows make it a visual feast for architecture enthusiasts. One of the most interesting areas is the West Facade and Portal, adorned with ornate sculptures that depict scenes from biblical stories and saints' lives.

To see the basilica at its best, it is recommended to visit during the morning or late afternoon when the sunlight filters through the stained glass, casting a magical glow inside. This soft illumination enhances the architectural details and creates an ethereal ambience that will leave you in awe. Don't forget to capture the intricate details and unique angles that showcase the basilica's timeless beauty.

Highlights of Basilica of Saint Denis

1Royal Tombs

Encounter the final resting place of French monarchs, from Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to the powerful Charlemagne. Feel the weight of history as you stand before these regal sepulchers, where legends of the past come to life.

2Rose Window

Prepare to be enchanted by the resplendent Rose Window, a kaleidoscope of vibrant hues that casts a mesmerizing glow within the Basilica. Marvel at its intricate tracery, an artistic masterpiece that leaves visitors spellbound.

3Crypt of the Bourbons

Descend into the depths of the Basilica to discover the hidden Crypt of the Bourbons. Here, among ancient vaults and dimly lit corridors, lies the resting place of illustrious members of the Bourbon dynasty, shrouded in mystery and intrigue.

4North Transept

Step into the majestic North Transept, where soaring arches and delicate rib vaults create a breathtaking architectural symphony. Admire the meticulous craftsmanship and intricate details that define the Gothic beauty of this sacred space.


Take a stroll along the enchanting Ambulatory, a path that winds around the choir and offers glimpses of hidden chapels and stunning architectural features. Immerse yourself in the tranquillity and beauty that this lesser-known area of the Basilica holds.

Best Time to Visit Basilica of Saint Denis

The best time to visit the Basilica would be during the shoulder season, from April to June and September to November, when there are fewer crowds, and the weather is pleasant. It's best to avoid peak tourist season from July to August when the crowds are at their peak, and the weather can be uncomfortably hot. Additionally, visiting on weekdays can help avoid weekend crowds. During the winter months, the daylight hours are shorter, so visiting during the morning or early afternoon is recommended. It's also worth noting that traffic can be heavy in the area during rush hour, so planning to arrive early or late in the day can help avoid delays.

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Basilica of Saint Denis Opening Hours

  • The Basilica is open every day from 10:00 am to 5:15 pm.
  • It is closed on January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.
  • The last entry is at 5:00 pm, 15 minutes before closing time.

Getting There


If you prefer buses, you can take bus lines 153, 253, 255, or 356, which have stops near the basilica. Check the schedules and routes in advance for a smooth journey.


The easiest and most recommended mode of transport is taking the metro. You can take Line 13 and get off at the "Basilique de Saint-Denis" station, which is just a short walk away from the basilica.


Another convenient option is the RER (suburban train). Take the RER D line and alight at the "Saint-Denis" station. From there, it's a pleasant stroll to the Basilica.

Insider Tips to Visit Basilica of Saint Denis

  • Attend one of the organ recitals held at the Basilica for a truly enchanting musical experience.
  • Enjoy a picnic in the nearby Parc de la Légion d'Honneur, a serene green space just a short walk away.
  • Take a leisurely stroll through the peaceful Saint-Denis neighborhood surrounding the Basilica.
  • Look for the intricate gargoyles and grotesques that adorn the exterior of the Basilica.
  • Visit the Basilica Museum to see a collection of religious art and artifacts from the Basilica's history.
  • Discover the unique blend of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles in the transept of the Basilica.
  • Attend a special event or concert held at the Basilica to experience its grandeur in a different way.

Basilica of Saint Denis - Facts

  • The Basilica is considered the birthplace of Gothic architecture, as it was one of the first buildings to incorporate significant Gothic elements.
  • It is the final resting place of French kings and queens, including famous figures such as Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
  • The Basilica's history dates back to the 5th century when it was built on the site of a Gallo-Roman cemetery.
  • It was extensively damaged during the French Revolution, but it was later restored to its former glory in the 19th century.
  • The Basilica's stained glass windows showcase exquisite craftsmanship and depict scenes from the Bible, saints' lives, and historical events.
  • It is believed that the term "Gothic" was initially used as a derogatory term to describe the architectural style of the Saint Denis Basilica.

Restaurants Near Basilica of Saint Denis

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Le Vieux Saint-Denis

Step into this charming bistro and savor classic French cuisine with a modern twist. From escargots to melt-in-your-mouth crème brûlée, their dishes will transport you to culinary heaven without breaking the bank.

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Le Petit Nicolas

A local favorite, this family-run gem offers hearty traditional dishes bursting with flavor. Indulge in their tender boeuf bourguignon or creamy gratin dauphinois, paired with a glass of fine wine, all at a reasonable price.

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Chez Momo

Dive into the vibrant flavors of North African cuisine at this lively restaurant. From fragrant tagines to mouthwatering couscous, every dish is a celebration of spices and authenticity, providing a delicious escape from the ordinary.

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Le Café de l'Abbaye

Situated in a quaint setting near the basilica, this charming café serves delightful French pastries and freshly brewed coffee. Treat yourself to a flaky croissant or a decadent éclair as you soak in the ambiance of the historic surroundings.

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L'Auberge de Saint-Denis

For an upscale dining experience, L'Auberge de Saint-Denis is a culinary haven. Their gourmet menu showcases the finest seasonal ingredients, beautifully presented by talented chefs. Prepare for a gastronomic adventure that will leave you longing for more.

Places to Stay Near Basilica of Saint Denis

Things to Do Near Basilica of Saint Denis


How old is Basilica of Saint Denis?

The Basilica of Saint Denis is approximately 1,700 years old.

Who built attraction Basilica of Saint Denis?

The Basilica of Saint Denis was built by the architect Suger.

How big is Basilica of Saint Denis?

The exterior of Basilica of Saint Denis is approximately 34 meters wide.

Are skip the line tickets for Basilica of Saint Denis worth it?

Yes, skip-the-line tickets to Basilica of Saint Denis are very useful, especially during the peak tourist season, helping you jazz past the lines.

What is the best mode of transport to reach Basilica of Saint Denis?

The best mode of transport to reach the Basilica of Saint Denis is by public transportation, such as the metro or bus.

Is Basilica of Saint Denis open on Christmas and New Year?

No, the Basilica of Saint Denis remains closed on Christmas and New Year.

On what dates is the Basilica of Saint Denis closed in a year?

The Basilica of Saint Denis is closed on January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.

Are there any restaurants inside Basilica of Saint Denis?

There are no restaurants inside the Basilica of Saint Denis, but there are eateries nearby.

Are there washrooms at Basilica of Saint Denis?

Washrooms are available at the Basilica of Saint Denis for visitors.

Is there a dress code to visit Basilica of Saint Denis?

As the Basilica of Saint Denis is a place of worship, modest attire is recommended for a visit.

Basilica of Saint Denis Guide