I took the subway nearly to the end of the ride, about 20 minutes and popped out on a sunny square. No tourist hordes here; Saint-Denis was off the beaten path, even if nearly all the French kings and queens are buried here.
|The Last Judgment Portal at Basilica Saint-Denis.|
|Sunlight through the stained-glass windows |
cast colors on the floor.
|Charles V (in wig), Queen Jeanne (with crown)|
lying with other French royalty.
During the Crusades and in medieval times French royalty would dither for years over where to be buried and would often write complicated wills commanding that their heart be buried in one place, their heart in another and the rest of the body in a third. Even the Pope's objection to cutting a body up couldn't make them stop until it finally fell out of fashion.
|More royalty, including Pepin the Short and Louis III.|
|King Henri and Catherine D'Medici.|
|Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.|
The heart of little Louis XVII.
Saint-Denis was my last sight on this European trip and I lingered, not wanting it to end. I thought of returning to the apartment and helping Ron and Benny pack up our big backpacks again. I didn't want to fly back to San Francisco. I wanted to take the Metro to the Gare du Nord and catch the next train to Prague the next day. Ahead of us was a 20-hour day full of security lines and flight delays and officials digging through my backpack only to find that the threatening object inside was Benny's six-inch tall Big Ben figurine. The Brits apparently didn't trust the French and required an additional security check before they'd let us transfer to another plane, and the airline kept the gate number for the flight to San Francisco a state secret until 15 minutes after it opened. But our flight landed nearly on time and we were the first through customs.
"Two weeks?" the customs officer repeated. "And that's all your luggage?"
"Yup," we said proudly.
But that was all ahead of me. I had a glass of wine on the sunny square before the Basilica Saint-Denis, my bag on my lap and my head stuffed with medieval carvings and French history. It was time to go home, I thought. We were almost out of money, energy and clean socks. Next week Ron had a biotech panel, Benny had tennis camp and I needed to prepare for a writer's conference in Seattle. Au revoir, Europe.