The phrase has been used for centuries "Paris, near Saint-Denis". The French capital seen as a suburb of the royal city.

Views of Saint-Denis, including the imposing basilica.

French World Cup
Organising Committee

In the sumptuous basilica of Saint-Denis you can find the tombs of practically every French king since Hugues Capet. A royal abbey since the 7th century, Saint-Denis became one of the most important basilicas in France in the 12th century, thanks mainly to Abbé Suger who commissioned the construction of the first Gothic cathedral in France in 1144. However, it was not completed until much later, at the beginning of the 13th century. In addition to its "royal" connections, the town developed its commercial side too and was one of the major business centres in the region for several centuries. The commercial tradition has not died out - even today there is still the famous Lendit fair to serve as a reminder.

Economic centre

Despite the royalist connections, the Dyonisiens, as the inhabitants of Saint-Denis are known, were active participants in the French Revolution, and for a number of years the town went by the name of Franciade.

Views of Saint-Denis.
       The coming of the industrial revolution in the 19th century changed the face of Saint-Denis considerably, and it became one of the major economic and industrial centres in the Paris area. At the end of the last century the Saint-Denis plain entered a period of extraordinary growth, as factories went up to keep pace with developments in the railway, automobile, gas and other sectors. The Saint-Denis canal played a big part in this development. After a period of transition following the second World War, La Plaine Saint-Denis regained its former importance and together with Aubervilliers and Saint-Ouen, two adjacent communes, it is now the most important commercial zone of the Ile de France.

Changing image

Changes are still taking place at Saint-Denis, and major companies such as Siemens, Panasonic, Gaz de France, Electricité de France have been welcomed there; it is also where the prestigious high speed train, the TGV, is made, and there are many audio-visual firms in the area, making it one of the foremost national centres in this sector.

       Yet, perhaps because of its rich history, this industrial town with its 95,000 inhabitants is also a cultural centre. In addition to the basilica, the rest of its architecture is exceptional too. There is also a musical festival of international status, a renowned theatre and a major book fair. And as for sport, the opening of the Stade de France end of January 1998 has added to the already impressive list of facilities in this area.

Le Stade de France

The shape of the future: a model of the Stade de France, where the 1988 World Cup will open and close.
The World Cup 98 will be remembered in this region, if for nothing else, as the reason for France's finally getting the kind of national stadium it has been waiting for for more than sixty years. Le Stade de France, just 3 km from the portals of Paris, is now a fact. Opened early in 1998 it accommodates 80,000 spectators for major football or rugby matches, 75,000 for athletics meetings and between 20,000 and 103,000 for other events.

       Basically an oval, the stadium consists of four tiers of elliptical terraces; the lower ring has 25,000 places, the second 15,000, and the upper two will each take 20,000. The capacity is thus modular, with the lower rings of seats being removable, in 31 blocks of 810 seats each. The construction work which began in the spring of 1995 was finished in time at the end of 1997. The official inauguration date took place on 28 January 1998, when a friendly game between France and Spain was played to mark the occasion.

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