The triumphal gate Porte Saint Denis is in a wide place on the Boulevard Saint-Denis, on the border between the 2nd and 10th districts (arrondissements) of Paris.
In the 14th century this was the site of a gate in the wall of Charles V. The current gate was built in 1672 on orders of King Louis XIV, to celebrate his victories on the Rhine and in the Franche-Comté.
Louis XIV was a big fan of victories. He was not overly fussy about where and why wars were fought, as long as they produced a few victories for him to boast about.
With his customary endearing modesty, Louis ordered the Latin words LUDOVICO MAGNO to be installed in golden letters across the top of the gate, meaning “To Louis the Great”.
One of the streets going off from the Porte Saint Denis is the Rue de la Lune (Street of the Moon) in the 2nd district (2e arrondissement).
On the Rue de la Lune I came across one of the many “Ride in Peace” sculptures that were installed all over Paris in 2014 by an anonymous street artist.
A prominent feature of Rue de la Lune is the church of Notre Dame de Bonne-Nouvelle, a neo-classical church dating from 1823-1830. The name means “Our Lady of Good News”. Across from the church, on the left side of the photo, is the Square Jacques-Bidault, one of only two public squares in the 2nd arrondissement that have room for a bit of greenery (the other being Square Louvois).
Another little touch of greenery is provided by this private forest in somebody’s back yard. The secret of making a private forest like this is just to leave your garden alone for a few years and see what happens. (I have done this in Germany sometimes, but my German neighbors were not impressed.)
Location and aerial view of Porte Saint Denis on monumentum.fr.
My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2021.
See also: The Oasis of Aboukir.
13 thoughts on “Porte Saint Denis”
“With his customary endearing modesty, Louis ordered…” I had to laugh reading this 🤣
But to be honest, Louis XIV was one of the greatest French Kings! During his reign, France gained an absolute political and cultural hegemony over Europe…
In all our visits to Paris we’ve never yet been to see the Porte Saint Denis! We came across one of the Ride in Peace sculptures on our last visit, near the Arènes de Lutèce, but I didn’t know anything about them, so thank yo for that info 🙂
In earlier years (pre-corona) I used to ride past the Porte Saint Denis fairly often, because it is on the main N-S bicycle route from Gare de l’Est to the Latin Quarter. I understand that this bicycle route has been upgraded considerably during the pandemic, so I look forward to trying it out next spring.
And I’m another visitor to Paris who has yet to see the Porte Sainte Denis!
Glad I’m not the only one!
I don’t remember the exact numbers now, but I remember reading (at Versailles I think) just how much money Louis XIV spent on wars and battles, expressed in terms of today’s equivalent value. It was ridiculous!
When we moved here in December 1973, the yard had been let to go somewhat wild. I got poison ivy 3 times before the leaves came out and I could identify it. In the last 45 years, some trees that were here have had to be cut down, some have been felled by hurricanes, and other trees have been planted or seeded themselves so we have a whole different forest than when we came.
My memories are a bit hazy but isn’t the St. Denis district part of the red light district?
Yes, but it seems to be quite discreet. I stayed in a small hotel near there once, and from my window I could see exactly one street prostitute. She just stood there for hours, never spoke to anyone and and nobody ever spoke to her, at least not that I noticed.
I’ve been to Saint Denis (for the basilica), but I’ve not dipped my toes into this part of Paris before. The backyard forest looks absolutely verdant, and it really is true that letting something overgrow over the years really yields results!
Walked past this gate last week
Never knew about the ride in peace guy. Public art that serves as a warning.
tx for sharing. especially need the armchair tour during covid 🙂