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Saint-Germain-en-Laye

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Saint-Germain-en-Laye

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Saint-Germain-en-Laye is in Ile de France. It is located in the western suburbs of Paris, 19.1km (11.9 mi) from the centre of Paris. Saint-Germain is best known for being the site of the royal palace where King Louis XIV was born, and gardens and forest surrounding it. Saint-Germain is also one of the wealthiest cities near Paris.

Understand[edit]

Map of the city centre of Saint-Germain.

Prior to the French Revolution in 1789, it had been a royal town and the Château de Saint-Germain the residence of numerous French monarchs. The old château was constructed in 1348 by King Charles V on the foundations of an old castle (château-fort) dating from 1238 in the time of Saint Louis. Francis I was responsible for its subsequent restoration. In 1862, Napoleon III set up the Musée des Antiquités Nationales in the erstwhile royal château. This museum has exhibits ranging from Paleolithic to Celtic times. The "Dame de Brassempouy" sculpted on a mammoth's ivory tusk around 23000 years ago is the most famous exhibit in the museum.

Kings Henry IV and Louis XIII left their mark on the town. Louis XIV was born in the château (the city's coat of arms consequently shows a cradle and the date of his birth), and established Saint-Germain-en-Laye as his principal residence from 1661 to 1681. Louis XIV turned over the château to James VII & II of Scotland and England after his exile from Britain after the Glorious Revolution in 1688. James lived in the Château for 13 years, and his daughter Louisa Maria Stuart was born in exile here in 1692. James II is buried in the Church of Saint-Germain.

Saint-Germain-en-Laye is famous for its 2.4-kilometre (1.5 mi) long stone terrace built by André Le Nôtre from 1669 to 1673. The terrace provides a view over the valley of the Seine and, in the distance, Paris.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Saint-Germain-en-Laye is served by Saint-Germain-en-Laye station on Paris RER line A. The RER station is next to the château.

It is also served by two stations on the Transilien L suburban rail line: Saint-Germain – Bel-Air – Fourqueux and Saint-Germain – Grande Ceinture. Both these stations are further away from the centre.

Get around[edit]

The city centre is small enough that you can walk around.

See[edit][add listing]

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye[edit]

Château de Saint-Germain.

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye [1] is open every day except Tuesday 10:00 to 17:00. Some rooms are not open, consult the website or call the château to check. 0033 (0)1 39 10 13 00. Tickets: 7€ per adult, 5.50€ concession. A 2€ surcharge is added when temporary exhibit is included. Free the first Sunday of each month.

The château includes a archaeology museum [2].

Along the North side of the castle are the gardens. Designed by Le Nôtre, the gardens are of the French style.

Access:

  • By train: RER A Saint-Germain-en-Laye station. Trains terminate at the station next to the château.

Grande Terrasse of Saint-Germain-en-Laye[edit]

The Grand Terrace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a terrace overlooking the valley of the Seine in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Built in the late seventeenth century, it is part of the royal estate of Saint-Germain-en-Laye which also includes the park and the castle.

Some 2400 metres long and 30 metres wide, the terrace itself is lined with lime trees (replanted after the damage caused by the storm of December 1999), with the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye on one side and an unobstructed view of the west of Paris on the other. In particular, from this promontory overlooking the Seine and the Montesson loop, you can see in the distance the Eiffel Tower, the towers of La Défense, Montmartre and the Montparnasse Tower.

It has a "half-moon" at the first third of its length. A perspective effect, with a slope down to the half moon and a slight false flat, misleads the eye of walkers who, having traveled only one third of its length, have the impression of having reached its half. Moreover, this hollow, seen from the southern end, tends to crush the perspective on this exceptionally long straight line, so as not to discourage the walker.

Access:

  • Situated next to the château, walk through the gardens to the North West.

Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye[edit]

The Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a forest of 35km² in area which lies in a meander of the River Seine, France. Situated 20km West of Paris, between Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Maisons-Laffitte, Achères and Poissy, It is situated entirely within the commune of Saint-Germain. Essentially composed of oak (53%) and beech (18%), it is now a forest bordered by built up areas and divided by communication links: route nationales, A14 and the railway line from Paris to Caen. The Fête des Loges is, every year, organised in an open space near Saint-Germain.

The Forest of Laye is a relic of the ancient Forest of Yveline. Very early it became a royal domain and hunting grounds of the Kings of France who resided at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Henry IV and Louis XIII of France often used the forest for fox hunting. Louis XIV also walked the forest and hired an architect, André Le Nôtre, to build a terrace bordering the forest dominating the valley of the River Seine in 1663. He also built a high wall, finished by Napoléon, encircling the forest to prevent game from escaping the woods. After the abandonment of the forest of Saint-Germain in 1682 by Louis XIV, Charles X resumed the hunting tradition of Saint-Germain. Napoléon III purchased land to the South to link the forest of Saint-Germain with the Forest of Marly. The arrival of the railway in 1835, then the development of the car, considerably increased use of the forest.

Access: the forest is vast, as such can be reached from various points.

  • By train: RER A to Saint-Germain-en-Laye then walk North to the forest. RER A to Achères Grand Cormier or RER A to Achères-Ville.
  • By car: N184 from the North or from Saint-Germain. D308 (old signs will bare the old road's classification N308) from the East; Maisons-Laffitte, Sartrouville and the A86 and the West; Poissy and the A13.

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Contact[edit]

Saint-Germain tourist office 0033 (0)1 30 87 20 63. 38 Rue au Pain 78100 SAINT-GERMAIN-EN-LAYE.

Get out[edit]


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