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Days of the Dead

We left Versailles early this morning (never really know about traffic) and got to the Paris flat by 8:15am. At 9:00am we were met by the owner and after an orientation and fixing some Wi-Fi issues, we were off on our first day in Paris (after a visit to the local supermarket).

Despite all of the pre-trip planning, once you get to the city, it seems to throw you off. So instead of following a particular preplanned walking tour, you find yourself chasing dead people. We ended up in three cemeteries, one ossuary, and a necropolis.

Royal tombs at Saint Denis in Paris, France.
Royal tombs at Saint Denis in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Owen)

Our first stop was St. Denis Cathedral. This is the historic necropolis of the French monarchy. The first king, Clovis, is buried here as well as Saint Denis, patron saint. The original crypt dates back to 400. With the exception of two or three kings, every French king is buried here. Well, sort of. During the French Revolution, the revolutionaries suggested to the citizens that they destroy anything having to do with the monarchy. So beginning in 1793, the destruction began. One of the beneficiaries of these misguided actions were the remains of the kings and their families in St. Denis. The crypts and coffins were opened and the remains were either thrown into a large pit or the river. Not to despair because the bones were retrieved after the Revolution. Unfortunately, no one knew whom he or she belonged to. So they just gathered them all up and buried them behind a wall.

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“Raphaelle”: Should You Hire a Professional Tour Guide?

Well I’ve said it before, if you can hire a private guide for trip specific themed walks, do it! What I mean is if you want to visit or explore a specific subject in a city, hire a knowledgeable guide.

Should you hire a professional tour guide?
Stew Ross (center), Raphaelle (left) and Sandy Ross (right) checking facts about the French Revolution as they tour the streets of Versaille. (Photo by Dan Owen)

For our trip to Paris I wanted to visit Versailles – not specifically for the general palace tour (been there, done that) but for the events that were significant to the Revolution. In other words, those events that occurred between May and October 1789. There were three primary events during this time frame: the meeting of the Estates General (4, 5 May), the September massacres (9 September), and the events leading up to the return of the royal family to Paris (5,6, October).

I needed an expert guide for the Versailles segment of our trip. I had researched Paris but decided it would be much more efficient to use the guide for Versailles. Read More “Raphaelle”: Should You Hire a Professional Tour Guide?