Basilica of Saint-Denis
Paris and inner ring departments
Paris and inner ring departments
Location of Saint-Denis
Saint-Denis is located in France
Saint-Denis is located in Île-de-France (region)
Coordinates: 48°56′08″N 2°21′14″E / 48.9356°N 2.3539°E / 48.9356; 2.3539
CantonSaint-Denis-1 and 2
IntercommunalityGrand Paris
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Mathieu Hanotin[1]
12.36 km2 (4.77 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2021)[2]
 • Density9,200/km2 (24,000/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
93066 /93200, 93210 (La Plaine)
Elevation23–46 m (75–151 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Saint-Denis (/ˌsæ̃dəˈn/, French: [sɛ̃d(ə)ni] ) is a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 9.4 km (5.8 mi) from the centre of Paris. Saint-Denis is the second most populated suburb of Paris (after Boulogne-Billancourt), with a population of 113,116 at the 2020 census. It is a subprefecture (French: sous-préfecture) of the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, being the seat of the arrondissement of Saint-Denis. It is also part of the Métropole du Grand Paris.

Saint-Denis is home to the royal necropolis of the Basilica of Saint-Denis and was also the location of the associated abbey. It is also home to France's national football and rugby stadium, the Stade de France, built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Saint-Denis is a formerly industrial suburb currently changing its economic base.


Until the 3rd century, Saint-Denis was a small settlement called Catolacus or Catulliacum, probably meaning "estate of Catullius", a Gallo-Roman landowner. About 250 AD, the first bishop of Paris, Saint Denis, was martyred on Montmartre hill and buried in Catolacus. Shortly after 250 AD, his grave became a shrine and a pilgrimage centre, with the building of the Abbey of Saint Denis, and the settlement was renamed Saint-Denis.

In 1793, during the French Revolution, Saint-Denis was renamed Franciade in a gesture of rejection of religion. In 1803, however, under the Consulate of Napoléon Bonaparte, the city reverted to its former name of Saint-Denis.


During its history, Saint-Denis has been closely associated with the French royal house. Starting from Dagobert I (c. 603–639), almost every French king was buried in the Basilica.

However, Saint-Denis is older than that. In the 2nd century, there was a Gallo-Roman village named Catolacus on the location that Saint-Denis occupies today. Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris and patron saint of France, was martyred in about 250 AD and buried in the cemetery of Catolacus. Denis' tomb quickly became a place of worship. Around 475 AD, Sainte Geneviève had a small chapel erected on Denis' tomb, which by then had become a popular destination for pilgrims. It was this chapel that Dagobert I had rebuilt and turned into a royal monastery. Dagobert granted many privileges to the monastery: independence from the bishop of Paris, the right to hold a market, and, most importantly, he was buried in Saint-Denis; a tradition which was followed by almost all his successors. During the Middle Ages, because of the privileges granted by Dagobert, Saint-Denis grew to become very important. Merchants from all over Europe (and indeed from the Byzantine Empire) came to visit its market.

In 1140, Abbot Suger, counselor to the King, granted further privileges to the citizens of Saint-Denis. He also started the work of enlarging the Basilica of Saint Denis that still exists today, often cited as the first example of high early Gothic Architecture.[3][4] The new church was consecrated in 1144.

Saint-Denis was depopulated in the Hundred Years' War; of its 10,000 citizens, only 3,000 remained after the war.

Battle of Saint-Denis (1567).

During the French Wars of Religion, the Battle of Saint-Denis was fought between Catholics and Protestants on 10 November 1567. The Protestants were defeated, but the Catholic commander Anne de Montmorency was killed. In 1590, the city surrendered to Henry IV, who converted to Catholicism in 1593 in the abbey of Saint-Denis.

King Louis XIV (1638–1715) started several industries in Saint-Denis: weaving and spinning mills and dyehouses. His successor, Louis XV (1710–1774), whose daughter was a nun in the Carmelite convent, took a lively interest in the city: he added a chapel to the convent and also renovated the buildings of the royal abbey.

Maison d'éducation de la Légion d'honneur de Saint-Denis.

During the French Revolution, not only was the city renamed "Franciade" from 1793 to 1803, but the royal necropolis was looted and destroyed. The remains were removed from the tombs and thrown together; during the French Restoration, since they could not be sorted out anymore, they were reburied in a common ossuary.

Saint-Denis in 1830.

The last king to be interred in Saint-Denis was Louis XVIII (1755 – 1824). After France became a republic and an empire, Saint-Denis lost its association with royalty.

On 1 January 1860, the city of Paris was enlarged by annexing neighbouring communes. On that occasion, the commune of La Chapelle-Saint-Denis was disbanded and divided between the city of Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Ouen, and Aubervilliers. Saint-Denis received the north-western part of La Chapelle-Saint-Denis.

During the 19th century, Saint-Denis became increasingly industrialised. Transport was much improved: in 1824 the Canal Saint-Denis was constructed, linking the Canal de l'Ourcq in the northeast of Paris to the River Seine at the level of L'Île-Saint-Denis, and in 1843 the first railway reached Saint-Denis. By the end of the century, there were 80 factories in Saint-Denis.

The presence of so many industries also gave rise to an important socialist movement. In 1892, Saint-Denis elected its first socialist administration, and by the 1920s, the city had acquired the nickname of la ville rouge, the red city. Until Jacques Doriot in 1934, all mayors of Saint-Denis were members of the Communist Party.

During the Second World War, after the defeat of France, Saint-Denis was occupied by the Germans on 13 June 1940. There were several acts of sabotage and strikes, most notably on 14 April 1942 at the Hotchkiss factory. After an insurgency which started on 18 August 1944, Saint-Denis was liberated by the 2nd Armored Division (France) on 27 August 1944.

After the war, the economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s hit the city, which was strongly dependent on its heavy industry.

During the 1990s, however, the city started to grow again. The 1998 FIFA World Cup provided an enormous impulse; the main stadium for the tournament, the Stade de France, was built in Saint-Denis, along with many infrastructural improvements, such as the extension of the metro to Saint-Denis-Université. The stadium is used by the national football and rugby teams for friendly matches. The Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Top 14 final matches are held there, as well as the Meeting Areva international athletics event.

Rue Gabriel Péri, a pedestrian zone in Saint-Denis, in 2012.

Since 2000, Saint-Denis has worked with seven neighbouring communes (Aubervilliers, Villetaneuse, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, Épinay-sur-Seine, L'Île-Saint-Denis (since 2003), Stains (since 2003), and La Courneuve (since 2005)) in Plaine Commune.

In 2003, together with Paris, Saint-Denis hosted the second European Social Forum.

On 13–14 November 2015, Saint-Denis was the main location of a series of mass shootings and hostage-takings just outside the Stade de France. On 18 November, a major follow-up raid occurred. Several suspects were killed, including alleged mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud.[5]

In 2016, Saint-Denis was one of the host cities of the UEFA European Football Championships, including the opening game.[6]



Inhabitants of Saint-Denis are called Dionysiens in French.[7]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1793 5,642—    
1800 3,955−4.95%
1806 3,892−0.27%
1821 5,569+2.42%
1831 9,618+5.62%
1836 9,332−0.60%
1841 10,338+2.07%
1846 10,597+0.50%
1851 13,688+5.25%
1856 15,930+3.08%
1861 22,052+6.72%
1866 26,117+3.44%
1872 31,983+3.43%
1876 34,908+2.21%
1881 43,895+4.69%
1886 48,009+1.81%
1891 50,992+1.21%
1896 54,432+1.31%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1901 60,808+2.24%
1906 64,790+1.28%
1911 71,759+2.06%
1921 76,358+0.62%
1926 79,872+0.90%
1931 82,412+0.63%
1936 78,401−0.99%
1946 69,939−1.14%
1954 80,705+1.81%
1962 94,264+1.96%
1968 99,268+0.87%
1975 96,132−0.46%
1982 90,829−0.81%
1990 89,988−0.12%
1999 85,832−0.52%
2007 100,800+2.03%
2012 108,274+1.44%
2017 111,135+0.52%
Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on
Source: EHESS[8] and INSEE (1968–2017)[9]


Place of birth of residents of Saint-Denis in 1999
Born in metropolitan France Born outside metropolitan France
64.4% 35.6%
Born in
overseas France
Born in foreign countries with French citizenship at birth1 EU-15 immigrants2 Non-EU-15 immigrants
4.3% 2.5% 5.5% 23.3%
1 This group is made up largely of former French settlers, such as Pieds-Noirs in Northwest Africa, followed by former colonial citizens who had French citizenship at birth (such as was often the case for the native elite in French colonies), as well as to a lesser extent foreign-born children of French expatriates. A foreign country is understood as a country not part of France in 1999, so a person born for example in 1950 in Algeria, when Algeria was an integral part of France, is nonetheless listed as a person born in a foreign country in French statistics.

2 An immigrant is a person born in a foreign country not having French citizenship at birth. An immigrant may have acquired French citizenship since moving to France, but is still considered an immigrant in French statistics. On the other hand, persons born in France with foreign citizenship (the children of immigrants) are not listed as immigrants.


See also: Maghrebian community of Paris

As of 2008 18.1% of the population of Saint-Denis was Maghrebian.[10] Melissa K. Brynes, author of French Like Us? Municipal Policies and North African Migrants in the Parisian Banlieues, 1945–1975, wrote that in the middle of the 20th century, "few of [the Paris-area communes with North African populations] were as engaged with their migrant communities as the Dionysiens."[11]


RER B at La Plaine - Stade de France
Street view of Saint-Denis along Île-de-France tramway Line 1

Saint-Denis is served by Metro, RER, tram, and Transilien connections. The Saint-Denis rail station, built in 1846, was formerly the only one in Saint-Denis, but today serves as an interchange station for the Transilien Paris – Nord (Line H) suburban rail line and RER line D. The French rail company SNCF is also based in the town.

Paris Métro Line 12:

Paris Métro Line 13:

Tramways in Île-de-France:

Regional Rail:


Saint-Denis has a comparatively higher crime rate than most surroundings communes, with higher rates of robbery, drugs offences and murder.[12]

In 2010 Saint-Denis had the highest rate of violent crime in France with 1,899 violent robberies and 1,031 assaults (an average of six robberies and three assaults per day)[13]

To fight insecurity and delinquency, the Minister of Public Safety Jean-Marc Ayrault increased national police force in the Basilica district and the Landy Nord, classifying them as a Priority Security Zone 'ZSP' since 2012.[14]

In 2014, a total of 14,437 crimes were reported for 110,000 inhabitants.[15][16]

Saint-Denis made international headlines for violent disorder before and after the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final, in which fans of visiting football team Liverpool F.C. were involved in unrest around the stadium along with local groups of youths, with the chaos becoming an issue in the 2022 French legislative election.[17][18]


Lycée Paul Éluard

Saint-Denis has 29 public preschools/nursery schools (écoles maternelles).[19] Saint-Denis has 30 public elementary schools (écoles élémentaires), with one of those schools (École Élémentaire Maria Casarès) being an intercommunal school.[20] Saint-Denis has eight public junior high schools (collèges).[21] Saint-Denis has the following senior high schools/sixth-form colleges: Lycée Bartholdi, Lycée Paul Éluard, Lycée Suger, and Lycée d’application de l’E.N.N.A.[22]

Saint-Denis has one private elementary, middle, and high school (Ensemble Scolaire Jean-Baptiste de la Salle-Notre Dame de la Compassion) and one private middle and high school (Collège et lycée Saint-Vincent-de-Paul).[21][22]

Notable people

Points of interest

Twin towns — sister cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France

Saint-Denis is twinned with:

In popular culture

The 2018 video game Red Dead Redemption 2 features a major city named Saint Denis, located in the fictional American state of Lemoyne. The fictional city was based on New Orleans, and both share a history of being former French territories.


  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires"., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises (in French). 2 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2021". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2023.
  3. ^ Rolf, Toman (ed.) (2004). Der Gothisch. Ullmann & Könemann
  4. ^ Swaan, Wim (1969). The Gothic Cathedral
  5. ^ Irish, John; Blachier, Gregory (19 November 2015). "'Spider in web' mastermind of Paris attacks killed in raid". Reuters. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  6. ^ "Saint-Denis getting in the mood for EURO". 13 June 2015.
  7. ^ Le nom des habitants du 93 - Seine-Saint-Denis,
  8. ^ Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet Saint-Denis, EHESS (in French).
  9. ^ Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  10. ^ Maxwell, Rahsaan Daniel. Tensions and Tradeoffs: Ethnic Minority Migrant Integration in Britain and France. ProQuest, 2008. p. 197. ISBN 0549874585, 9780549874584.
  11. ^ Byrnes, Melissa K. French Like Us? Municipal Policies and North African Migrants in the Parisian Banlieues, 1945–1975. ProQuest, 2008. ISBN 0549741224, 9780549741220. p. 283.
  12. ^ "Paris attacks turn spotlight on Saint Denis banlieue". BBC News. 18 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Création de 49 nouvelles Zones de Sécurité Prioritaires (ZSP) / Dossiers de presse / Presse - Ministère de l'Intérieur". Archived from the original on 14 June 2021.
  15. ^ "Délinquance et criminalite à Saint-Denis (93200)". 2 November 2016.
  16. ^ "Chiffres délinquance Saint Denis (93200)".
  17. ^ Schofield, Hugh (3 June 2022). "Champions League Final: Post-match violence shakes up French election race". BBC News. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  18. ^ "Reader question: Is the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis really a no-go zone?". The Local. 2 June 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  19. ^ "La liste des écoles maternelles de Saint-Denis Archived 10 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine." Saint-Denis. Retrieved on 1 February 2012.
  20. ^ "La liste des écoles élémentaires de Saint-Denis." Saint-Denis. Retrieved on 1 February 2012.
  21. ^ a b "Les collèges dans la ville Archived 30 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine." Saint-Denis. Retrieved on 31 January 2012.
  22. ^ a b "Les lycées dans la ville Archived 4 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine." Saint-Denis. Retrieved on 31 January 2012.
  23. ^ a b Gross, Joan, David McMurray, and Ted Swedenburg. "Arab Noise and Ramadan Nights: Rai, Rap, and Franco-Maghrebi Identities" (Anthropology: Postcolonial Studies). In: Lavie, Smadar and Ted Swedenburg. Displacement, Diaspora, and Geographies of Identity. Duke University Press, 1996. ISBN 0822317206, 9780822317203. p. 142.
  24. ^ "MINUTE OF MEETING OF COATBRIDGE AREA COMMITTEE" (PDF). North Lanarkshire Council. 23 June 1998. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2009.

Further reading

Media related to Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) at Wikimedia Commons