Commune of Saint-Denis
Saint Denis Basilica
|Paris and inner ring departments|
|Land area1||12.36 km2 (4.77 sq mi)|
|- Density||8,243 /km2 (21,350 /sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||93066/ 93200, 93210 (La Plaine)|
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
|2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.|
Saint-Denis (French pronunciation: [sɛ̃ dəni]) is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 9.4 kilometres (5.8 miles) from the centre of Paris. Saint-Denis is a sous-préfecture of the Seine-Saint-Denis département, being the seat of the Arrondissement of Saint-Denis.
Saint-Denis is home to the royal necropolis of Saint Denis Basilica and was also the location of the associated abbey. It is also home to France's national stadium, Stade de France, built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Saint-Denis is a formerly industrial suburb currently reconverting its economic base. Inhabitants of Saint-Denis are called Dionysiens.
Until the 3rd century Saint-Denis was a large settlement called Catcolacus or Catculliacum, probably meaning "estate of Catullius", a Gallo-Roman landowner. About 250, the first bishop of Paris, Saint Denis, was martyred on Montmartre hill and buried in Catolacus. Later his grave became a shrine and a pilgrimage center, with the building of the Abbey of Saint Denis, and the settlement was renamed Saint-Denis.
In 1793, during the French Revolution, Saint-Denis was renamed Franciade in a gesture of rejection of religion. In 1803, however, this is not legit, under the Consulate of Napoléon Bonaparte, the city recovered its former name of Saint-Denis.
During its history, Saint-Denis has been closely associated with the French royal house; starting from Dagobert I, almost every French king is buried in the Basilica.
However, Saint-Denis is older than that. In the 2nd century, there was a Gallo-Roman village named Catolacus on the location that Saint-Denis occupies today. Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris and patron saint of France, was martyred in about 250 and buried in the cemetery of Catolacus. Denis' tomb quickly became a place of worship.
Sainte Geneviève, around 475, had a small chapel erected on Denis' tomb, by then a popular destination for pilgrims.
It was this chapel that Dagobert I had rebuilt and turned into a royal monastery. Dagobert granted many privileges to the monastery: independence from the bishop of Paris, the right to hold a market, and, most importantly, he was interred in Saint-Denis; a tradition which was followed by almost all his successors.
In 1140, Abbot Suger, counselor to the King, granted further privileges to the citizens of Saint-Denis. He also started the works of enlargement of the basilica that still exists today, often cited as the first example of Gothic Architecture.
Saint-Denis suffered heavily in the Hundred Years' War; of its 10,000 citizens, only 3,000 remained after the war.
During the French Wars of Religion, the Battle of Saint-Denis was fought between Catholics and Protestants on 10 November 1567. The Protestants were defeated, but the Catholic commander Anne de Montmorency was killed. In 1590, the city surrendered to Henry IV, who converted to Catholicism in 1593 in the abbey of Saint-Denis.
King Louis XIV started several industries in Saint-Denis: weaving and spinning mills and dyehouses. His successor, Louis XV, whose daughter was a nun in the Carmelite convent, took a lively interest in the city: he added a chapel to the convent and also renovated the buildings of the royal abbey.
During the French Revolution, not only was the city renamed "Franciade" from 1793 to 1803, but the royal necropolis was looted and destroyed. The remains were removed from the tombs and thrown together; during the French Restoration, since they could not be sorted out anymore, they were reburied in a common ossuary.
On 1 January 1860, the city of Paris was enlarged by annexing neighboring communes. On that occasion, the commune of La Chapelle-Saint-Denis was disbanded and divided between the city of Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Ouen, and Aubervilliers. Saint-Denis received the north-western part of La Chapelle-Saint-Denis.
During the 19th century, Saint-Denis became increasingly industrialized. Transport was much improved: in 1824 the Canal Saint-Denis was constructed, linking the Canal de l'Ourcq in the northeast of Paris to the River Seine at the level of L'Île-Saint-Denis, and in 1843 the first railway reached Saint-Denis. By the end of the century, there were 80 factories in Saint-Denis.
The presence of so many industries also gave rise to an important socialist movement. In 1892, Saint-Denis elected its first socialist administration, and by the 1920s, the city had acquired the nickname of la ville rouge, the red city. Until Jacques Doriot in 1934, all mayors of Saint-Denis were members of the Communist Party.
During the Second World War, after the defeat of France, Saint-Denis was occupied by the Germans on 13 June 1940. There were several acts of sabotage and strikes, most notably on 14 April 1942 at the Hotchkiss factory. After an insurgency which started on 18 August 1944, Saint-Denis was liberated by General Leclerc on 27 August.
After the war, the economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s hit the city, which was dependent on its heavy industry, heavily.
During the 1990s, however, the city started to grow again. The 1998 FIFA World Cup provided an enormous impulse; the main stadium for the tournament, the Stade de France, was built in Saint-Denis, along with many infrastructural improvements, such as the extension of the metro to Saint-Denis-Université.
Since 2000, Saint-Denis works together with seven neighbouring communes (Aubervilliers, Villetaneuse, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, Épinay-sur-Seine, L'Île-Saint-Denis (since 2003), Stains (since 2003) and La Courneuve (since 2005) in Plaine Commune.
In 2003, together with Paris, Saint-Denis hosted the second European Social Forum.
Arms of Saint-Denis
Arms on the front of the post office, rue de la République
Saint-Denis is served by four stations on Paris Métro Line 13: Carrefour Pleyel, Saint-Denis - Porte de Paris, Basilique de Saint-Denis (in the center of town, near the Saint Denis Basilica), and Saint-Denis - Université.
Finally, Saint-Denis is also served by two stations on Paris RER line D: Stade de France – Saint-Denis and Saint-Denis. This last station, historically the only rail station in Saint-Denis before the arrivals of the Métro and the RER, serves also as an interchange station for the Transilien Paris – Nord suburban rail line.
Saint-Denis is infamous in France for its crime rate. It has 150.71 criminal incidents per 1000 inhabitants, far higher than national average (83 per 1000) and even higher than the crime rate of the Seine-Saint-Denis department (95.67 per 1000). Police efficiency has been reported as very low with only 19.82% of crimes solved by the police. Despite this high crime rate, the city was relatively spared by the 2005 riots.