Living only 12km away from Senlis I ave heard some facts about, like its patrimonial and well conserved old town. But I never ever went to visit the city, just passing by for the highway connection. Now I realise that I missed something.
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One of the smallest French Cathedral
Arriving by car I easily found a parking lot (for free) just outside the old town, on the road to Chantilly, near the Grand Royal Deer statue. The city heart is small and I quickly reach the Cathedral. I didn’t know the city map and just followed the religious towers, from the church of Saint Peter (now a museum) I went by foot to the Gothic Cathedral Our Lady of Senlis, from behind, and where I’ve met a lady holding a tourist map of the town. After asking her I learnt how to get the local tourism office.
I stayed inside the building which is said to be the smallest Cathedral of France, I haven’t seen enough to make a final judgement but I must recognize that it is not really impressive There is a statue of Jeanne d’Arc who fight the English invaders coming to the city the August 15th 1429. This is the third city I know who have a statue of the young girl with Compiègne and Paris. Near the Cathedral square is standing the church of Frambourg, now used as a concert hall of the Fondation Cziffra.
Senlis, another royal city where the King Hugues Capet have been elected in 987 also had its castle. Back to the Merovingians times the castle used to be a high place of the history of France, were drama happened. From the XIII century the importance of the place decreased as fast as Paris became the central location of the religious, political and economic power of the kingdom.
Sold to the young first republic in 1793 most of the buildings and walls are put down. Destruction continued until 1861. In 1956 the city of Senlis buy the territory (the castle ruins and the Roy Garden) which became a high place for local tourism. Beside the castle is the well conserved Saint Maurice Priory.
Pavement streets and Gallo-Roman wall
Being an historical place from the Gaul’s time, Senlis have seen living different population, Celtic, Roman, Francs, modern kingdom and our present time. All the streets located in the old town are date from the middle age, many characteristic façades and narrow streets. All around is a Gallo-Roman wall, and it is possible to walk on it in some place, or to pass it by entering small tunnels (by the river) or gate (Roy’s Garden).
With my tourist map in the hands and a little of time I managed to do the three tracks proposed, starting by the small concentrated one in the old town and finishing with the long one going all around the town, passing near the river, the particular hostels and the town hall square. On the whole it took me four hours to see almost everything from Senlis, and I haven’t rushed.
King and Queen Monuments
On the south-west of the city are two monument dedicated to two royal personality. A small obelisk commemorating the Millennium of the sacrament of Hugues Capet (987-1987).
Near by in a park is the statue of Anne de Kiev (Anna Yaroslavna), princess of the Kevian Rus’, she married the king of France Henry I four years after he have lost his first wife and could married any woman from western Europe because they all were relatives. That her who introduce the name Philip in the Fench court by naming their first son like that, he became later the King Philip I.