Saint Denis basks in the spotlight
Saint-Denis has benefitted from the spotlight shining on the Stade de France to emerge from the shadows of Paris and revive its royal past.
The Stade de France has given the City of Kings the opportunity to reclaim its own standing. Since this temple of French sport was erected in the Plaine district, Saint-Denis has seen its economic and social development take on a new momentum. The working class Paris suburb has forged a new image in the light of this hub, an image that was always closely linked to heavy industry up until the 1970s. The Saint-Denis canal linking the La Villette docks to the Seine since 1824 placed it at the heart of Europe’s largest industrial zone at the beginning of the 20th Century.
The tomb of the Kings of France
And yet its royal past hardly heralded such an evolution. The first bishop of Paris, Saint-Denis, was martyred and beheaded by the Romans around 250 AD. According to legend, he walked north with his head under his arm, crossing the Montmartre district before eventually falling at the site of the basilica erected in his honour. In the 7th Century King Dagobert converted it into a royal necropolis asking to be buried there. From Hugues Capet, the basilica has sheltered the tombs of every king of France with the exception of Philippe I. These days visitors can link the past with the present by walking a path dotted with 20 historical markers from the Basilica to the Stade de France®.
2007: rugby and cinema
After a long industrial crisis, Saint-Denis has rediscovered its energy with the setting up of new service sector firms leading to the creation of 60,000 jobs. Under the impulse of the Plaine Commune and the regrouping of eight municipalities, many projects have been set in motion: The Landy-France business hub covers 170,000 square metres; the transfer of the National Archives from Paris; the creation of the City of Cinema dedicated to the film industry, which will open on a former EDF Electricity Board site in the Pleyel district in the 2007 RWC year. Four years after the world athletic championships, Saint-Denis is preparing for a new festival centred on its jewel.