Basilica of Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis, France

The Basilica of Saint-Denis is a gothic style church located in the centre of the city of Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, 5 kilometres north of Paris. It was originally an abbey, but today it is the Cathedral of the diocese of Saint-Denis. The old royal abbey was named ‘Basilica’ in the Merovingian era. The church stands on the site of a Gallo-Roman cemetery, burial place of saint Denis martyred around 250. The transept of the abbey, of exceptional magnitude, was intended to accommodate the royal tombs: it is the necropolis of the kings of France. It is surrounded by a garden that is part of the classification of historic monuments. In our days the church is divided into three spaces, the first two are open to the public: the nave and the aisles which serve the function of Church and where the Catholic ceremonies take place. the transept, the choir and ambulatory, and the crypt where there is a museum where the tombs of the Kings and Queens of France even as many of their servants are. You can find the tombs of Louis XII, François 1st, Anne of Brittany, Henri II, Catherine de Medici, Claude of France among others; the archaeological crypt that contains the oldest tombs of the monument, with the Merovingian and the burial place supposed of Saint-Denis and the lapidary in the Orangery and in the garden (East of the bedside) where many partscould be highlighted as part of an exhibition space.

Tips

You can visit the church by taking the metro (line 13) and get down to the ‘Basilica of St-Denis’ station. It is located 400 metres from the exit of the station.
If you want to visit the Museum, call or see on internet in advance because it is closed when there are ceremonies.
You can take a day to visit the church and ethen njoy walking in the surrounding area. There are many shops and restaurants and nice cafés to take a break. If time permits, you can enjoy beautiful terraces too.
Look at the calendar of activities of the church because there are several events that will take place throughout the year.

Sacro Monte (Sacred Mount), Varese, Italy

The Sacro Monte (Sacred Mount) in Varese (in the Campo dei Fiori Regional Park), belongs to the group of nine pre-Alpine mountains Saints in Piedmont and Lombardy; registered in 2003 in the UNESCO list of World Heritage. It consists of fourteen chapels dedicated to the mysteries of the Rosary, which lead to the sanctuary of ‘Santa Maria del Monte’, a place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages, constituting the fifteenth chapel which retains an organ in 1831. The construction began in 1604, along two kilometers of a plot cobbled. The Borgo di Santa Maria del Monte, where the sanctuary is , is connected to the rest of the city by a small road and also by a historic funicular recently restarted.

Tips

You can park your car in the parking lot and if you do not want to continue on foot, there is an elevator that will take you almost to the top. From there, you have a beautiful view of the city and mountains.

If you do not want to drive with the car in the narrow mountain road, there is a bus that will leave you in the parking lot and you can continue by walking trails or just take the elevator if you do not want to do any effort.

Wear preferably sneakers because it is not easy to go through the cobblestone paths with slippery shoes or heels.

The St. Antthony Hermitage, Bouchette Lake, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec, Canada

The St. Anthony hermitage of  Bouchette Lake was founded by Father Elzéar Delamarre in 1907 with the construction of a second home and a chapel dedicated to St Anthony of Padua. The place became a pilgrimage site and the abbot was building a larger chapel to accommodate the visitors. In 1925 the site was taken in care by the Capuchin Minor Brothers who built a monastery and a church dedicated to the Virgin. Today the place has also a hotel with a large dining-room with terrace overlooking the lake and an excellent gastronomic choice with local products and typical menu of the Lac St-Jean region as the famous pie called ‘tourtière’. There is also a wooden observation tower, a pedestrian path, a souvenir shop, a bakery, a camping area with parking for trailers and the warm welcome of the Brothers and staff who make of this place a beautiful option for a relaxing holiday, solo, with family, friends or couples. To see: the St. Anthony of Padua chapel (neo-Gothic country), the frescoes of the Quebec painter Charles Huot, the monastery (neo-Romanesque), the Marian Chapel, among others and of course the natural environment that is really beautiful!

Tips

You can book your accommodation with or without breakfast but it is good to take it even as the supper cause the site is in nature and there are no restaurants very near.

You have a small beach nearby, on the way to the village, and there are some games for children on the site next to the lake.

Taste the bread and buns baked at the bakery on site, it’s worth it.

There are many activities around Lac St-Jean; so staying at the monastery would be economical and comfortable to come and visit the area.