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Originally, the street leading to Saint-Denis - outside the ramparts of the Roman capital which mainly occupied the left bank - served as the city's cemetery.
* Just to say: you're about to read my favourite historical nickname of all time.
Louis VI the Fat, who had already overseen the construction of Les Halles, had Saint-Innocents built in 1130. Its cemetery would become the cemetery of all the churches of Paris, which made for an unprecedented concentration of dead bodies: a plague epidemic could bring about thousands of deaths in the space of just a few weeks. In the 1400s improvements were made, partly paid for and designed by Nicolas Flamel. The whole was overseen by a macabre mural of the Dance of Death. Just prior to the Revolution, the bodies were disinterred and moved to the catacombs beneath Paris.