Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday in St. Denis

Our Sunday was spent in the small town of St. Denis, which is on the outskirts of Paris.  It's actually on the Metro line, so we zipped right out there in about 35 minutes and only one line change.

Sunday is market day in St. Denis, so of course we took advantage of that!  There is a large Muslim and African population in this small town, and that is reflected in their market.  It was wonderful--chaotic, noisy and fun.  I think we were the only tourists there!  There are vendors selling everything from clothing, fabrics, hardware and kitchen utensils to beautiful fruit, vegetables and herbs.  Our pictures certainly don't capture the joy of this market, but here are a couple of shots:

We came across a vendor selling women's perfume. I think a little something was lost in translation, don't you?

Although Sunday is their big weekly outdoor market, they also have a very large permanent indoor market.  It is fascinating, and reminded us of the markets in Mexico.  We especially liked the spice stall and the one selling many different kinds of olives:

Don't those olives look delicious?  We bought several different kinds to try!  Even though the nice lady behind the counter spoke no English, and of course we don't speak French, she was very kind and helpful.  We also bought a Creole spice mix to try.

And no, that is NOT my hand in the
                                                                  pig's nose!

After our great adventure at the Market, the St. Denis Basilica Cathedral was open and ready for visitors (mass was finished).  And we were in for a treat!

Here's our first view of the exterior:
We walked around the exterior first, the detail is wonderful!  Here are just a few to give you an idea:

These detail photos of the exterior are not even the front of the cathedral-they are the north side, a secondary entrance!  We forgot to take pictures of the front!

Now on to the beautiful interior.......

St. Denis Cathedral was started in 1163, 4 years before Notre Dame de Paris.  It is one of the earliest Gothic cathedrals, and is certainly the most beautiful we have seen.  It is the burial place of many kings and queens of France, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Henri II and Catherine of Medici.  There are 42 kings, 32 queens, 63 princes and princesses buried here.  There are very interesting funeral statures of each of them, here are a few examples:

This is Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette

For both of us the real fascination with Gothic cathedrals is the amazing architecture, especially the cross-ribbed vaulted ceilings.  This was a very new technique in the 12th century, and was perfected during the 12th and 13th centuries in the construction of this cathedral.  Here's a couple of pictures of that:


Notice the angel faces! This is a detail of where the ribs come together in the vault of the ceiling. Every where we looked, there were beautiful details like this to discover.

And, of course--the stained glass.   This cathedral is much brighter than most of the others we have seen, this year or last year.  The sunlight floods in, and it is absolutely magical! I will admit I actually teared up, just from the beauty and majesty of this place.  Again, the pictures don't capture the magic, but here are a few of our favorites:

And one of the magnificent interior:

By now were suffering (gladly) from sensory overload, so it was time to leave.  We'd spent over two hours enjoying the beauty of this place. We both agreed that it is, by far, the most beautiful cathedral (or building) we've been in.

We took 131 pictures--just be glad I didn't post more!

We wandered around the market a bit more--just because we'd enjoyed it so much in the morning.  But we were cold and hungry--so it was time to Metro back to Paris.

We had a very late lunch/early dinner at a nice cafe on the way back from the Metro to our apartment.  As we were both freezing, we had another bowl of delicious onion soup to warm us up, and shared a lovely composed salad.  It had field greens, warm baby potatoes, slices of smoky bacon, and was had a nice vinagrette that actually managed to taste buttery as well as tangy.  That was all topped off with a slice of toast and a thick piece of foie gras!  Seriously yummy--just look:

As my dear friend Donna would say--it was a LARGE day!  Just another wonderful day in Paris.......


  1. Well I might have eaten that dinner...looked good. Before I forget, I really like the blonde highlights in your hair Di. Cathedral was gorgeous, breathtaking. Market was interesting, parts of it reminded me of the markets in Madrid. Like always, the facts and writing was wonderful. How nice it is to have friends who share their adventures with us. Thanks!

  2. Sunday FUNDAY...your camera (and DaviOd) takes great pictures of the markets and Cathedral...I really enjoy seeing and reading about each days adventure. We had a LARGE day in Anchorage also- it was really nice to have Donna here for the weekend-we missed Brenda and You---especially on Sunday at 3:30

  3. Opps, I forgot to mention-

    spiT off---think that should be
    spiN off?

    how funny?

  4. We are really enjoying your blog---starting our day by checking in to see what you did the previous day has been fun. I really enjoy your writing and pics.
    The cathedral was beautiful and amazing. Looks like the market was alot of fun---if that wasn't your hand in the pig's nose was it David's?

  5. What fun to read of our travels and experiences. I'm curious, did you get a wiff of that spit off perfume? Could they have mistakenly put a p where an h should have been? Just thinking.......
    Great photos and stories.
    Love you two, Donna