Along what used to be a road already during Roman times, leading from the Paris centre towards the north, is a small chapel called Saint-Denys-de-la-Chapelle. This was more or less countryside until the 19th century. There was a little village called La Chapelle (the chapel). The present chapel which dates from the 13th century was built on foundations of a 5th century one, created by Saint Genevieve, patron saint of Paris.

There is a saying that Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, martyred and beheaded around 250, walked all the way, holding his head in his arms – some six km – (4 miles) (see previous post) from Paris to what was to become the Saint-Denis Basilica (see previous post). However, it seems that Saint Genevieve had his remains buried here in 475, in the previous little chapel, until they were transferred to the Saint Denis Basilica in 636. This explains the name of the chapel, St. Denys, St. Denis.

The present chapel, thus from the 13th century, has also had a famous guest; it seems that Joan of Arc spent a night here in 1429 on her way to conquer Paris, which was then under Burgundian control, a few months after her successful intervention at Orleans. She was wounded however and the fight about Paris didn’t take place. To honour her presence here, a basilica was built over the period 1930-1964, the Basilique Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc, the surprising bigger building you can now find as neighbour to the small chapel. The basilica seems to be not quite completed and is closed for visits, except for masses.

To further honour Joan, statues can be found outside the basilica and inside the chapel.

(I'm still in Sweden; this post is pre-programmed.)


Olivier said...

belle statue de miss Jeanne d'arc

Carole said...

Bonjour Peter,
J' habitais juste en face au n°13 !!!
A Noël, il y avait une très jolie crèche, Maman m'emmenait la voir chaque année.
Que de souvenirs Peter...
Bonne journée.

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Interesting piece of history. Thanks for sharing!

Vagabonde said...

Là non, Peter, je ne peux pas dire que je connais, mais c’est une jolie chapelle.

Mona said...

I love to read history about saints.

I hope you have a good time in Sweden. I hope your mom is well!

Cezar and Léia said...

Bonjour dear Peter!
I'm enchanted by the first picture, this church is wonderful!
I hope everything is fine there!

Virginia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine said...

Carole ! Moi, j'habitais Plus en face..au 15. Et je confirme que la crêche était magnifique pour nos yeux d'enfants quand la maman de Carole nous emmenait la voir.

joanna said...


A fascinating place and a very busy place lots of history going on there.

As always a delight to come to your interesting and picturesque blog.

Wishing you well.


Karin B (Looking for Ballast) said...


I hope your journey in Sweden is going well, and that it is not as afflicted by hot weather as Paris in the past couple of days.

Thank you for the past few days of posts! I have come here and gotten caught up, and loved all the stunning photography work you have put together for the past few posts. Thank you so much.

As for this post, I have been reading a book in English called A Traveller's History of Paris by Robert Cole (The Windrush Press) and just learned about Saint Denis and his contributions to Paris history, including the legend that he carried his head about with him to the location of where the basilica is now. It's a good tale!

I'm so excited to see the photos here! Yes, I should go and visit for myself, but I have to say it is rather nice to sit here with my glass of iced tea and not go out in the heat just now. :) What can I say? I am lazy. Really, though, this is such an encouraging post to go and check out both the chapel and the basilica. Thank you for this slice of Paris' history.

Simony said...

Beautiful history you shared with us today, Peter!
Hope your trip to Sweden is going well. Take care.

Trotter said...

Another one I've never been to; it's increasing the figure, now that you taking us off the beaten track... ;)