Our original plan today was to go to Melun, famous for its Brie cheese and for the chateau Vaux le Vicomte, which inspired the building of the Versailles palace. We went to Gare de Lyon to buy train tickets, but due to a misunderstanding about where to buy them, were unable to purchase them in time. Plan B was to visit the Basilica of St. Denis, in the outskirts of Paris, so that's what we did. The basilica is one of the earliest examples of Gothic architecture in northern France and is where 42 kings, 32 queens, and 63 princes and princesses were interred.
It has lots of funerary sculpture. My favorites are the ones that include the deceased person's dogs.
The stained glass in the basilica is quite nice, too.
They have some good relics. The reliquary below contains the wrist of St. Louis.
They also have the bones of Sts. Denis, Rustique, and Eleuthère. The reason the basilica is named for St. Denis is because after he was beheaded in Montmartre, he picked up his head and walked the 10 kilometers to St. Denis (it was called something else at the time) because that's where he wanted to be buried.
In addition to these relics, the basilica also contains the heart of King Louis XVII, who became king at the age of 8 after his parents were executed in the Revolution. He died of illness at the age of 10.
No lunch photos today because we had croque monsieur and an omelette and I've already published photos of those dishes. It's difficult not to repeat a menu when you're trying to keep your dining expenses at a moderate level.
And now for a confession. Our transit pass, the Passe Navigo, allows us to ride on any Métro train but restricts us from using buses or trams outside of Zones 1 & 2. Zones 1 & 2 include all of the major tourist areas in Paris and most of the rest of the city, and it isn't exactly clear when Zone 2 ends and Zone 3 begins. Anyway, we took the Métro to St-Denis, and I believe that that was perfectly legal. There's a tram that stops in St-Denis and travels around the outskirts of the city. Because we hadn't used the tram yet, we decided to take it to the next Métro stop and then hop on the Métro. When we entered the tram and scanned our Passe Navigos, we heard a buzzing sound and saw a brief message on the screen. After the tram had started we realized that the message had said that we were outside of our zone. Therefore, we were riding illegally and could be fined if the transit police decided to check that passengers were valid. The next Métro stop was about 8 tram stops away. We decided to take our chances that we wouldn't be checked by the transit police and go to that next Métro stop. However, after about 4 tram stops, our tram was involved in a very minor accident with a truck. We were at a standstill for about 10 minutes. Then the tram moved on to the next tram stop, but the conductor announced that everybody had to get off at this stop because of the accident. We got off and it was completely chaotic on the platform because there were so many people on it.
Then we had a moral dilemma. Should we get on the next tram illegally and hope to not get caught, or should we buy a valid ticket on the platform? It was so crowded and crazy on the platform that we decided to do neither of these things, and instead we walked to the next Métro stop by following the tram tracks. Fortunately it wasn't too far, probably a little more than half a mile.
Today's Cheese: Roquefort
Today's Baguette was Number 4 in the best Paris Bagette of 2011 contest. It was warm and delicious.