Archive for March 25th, 2012

March 25, 2012

A castle and a museum, Saint Germain en Laye

On my last trip home in Versailles, I decided to again visit one of my favorite towns in the area. My family enjoy it very much, and we remember well the times in the market, the flea market searching for postcards of old, and the interesting antiquities museum inside the castle of Louis XIV , well sort of. I have decided to walk its streets and taste the great places we usually went.Another nostalgic trip as once my house is sold/closed the trips here will be fewer in betweent, ,,,huh;;;I hope not.

This is a very old city, and the first mentioned of a castle was from king Louis VI the Fat  in 1124AD, and James VII and II of Scotland and England lived here for 13 years after his exile from the revolution of 1688 ,and his daughter Louisa Maria Stuart was born in exile here in 1692. James II is buried in the Church of Saint-Germain across from the castle.

Saint Germain en Laye, is very close to Paris, easily reachable by RER A trains (several locations in Paris), and SNCF trains at Grand Centaure station, coming in from Gare Saint Lazare in Paris. the Paris RER info is found here and the trains here . if coming by car as  I do always is good to drive on the perimeters roads but once close to city center best is to walk and leave your car at a parking garage. The most obvious is by the RER station, two call RER and Chateau parking in two levels. The other is to go underneath the Vieux Marché or market area on ave de la republique, or the parking Pologne at rue de Pologne or the Monoprix store parking. The city of SGL has a good explanation on parkings and public transport even in French can easily be understood, here

Of course, the castle now the museum of antiquities or musée national des antiquites it covers in three floors wonders of the old days found in the surrounding areas, and it is considered one of the best in its genre.  Behind you see an archdoor leading to the Pavillon Henri IV restaurant (great dining) an enblem showing this is where Louis XIV was born. The parc and gardens were done from  1668 to 1675 by the great gardener Le Nôtre, and it has an expansive view over Paris and the vineyards of Le Pecq that after doing so from antiquity are now back in form from 2000 onward producicng pinot noir base wines.  The 2010 and 2011 vintage are said to be good, not try it yet.

The museum page is here, , and the tourist office is here  if need further questions as they are in French ,let me know ok. If in town and want a public pool away from your hotel and a chance to meet the locals come here ,and you see the hours and admission here

The top French football/soccer club PSG or Paris Saint Germain trains here as it was the fusion in 1970 of Paris FC and St Germain FC.

You have across the castle a wonderful church, gorgeous as they come in France, where not only the king James of England frequented and buried there, but Louis XIV did too. Info here in French,  Today is a very popular church so like today it was full .

Plenty of museums such as the muséé Maurice Denis on a royal hospital founded by Madame de Montespan, at Le Prieuré 2bis rue Maurice Denis Tél : 01 39 73 77 87  and Musée Claude Debussy, the musician at 38 rue au pain and free admission but reserved in advance at the tourist office, programme–09_08_11.pdf

The market is second only to Versailles in the region in my opinion, very nice at the Place du Marché Neuf ,on Tuesdays and Fridays from 8h30-13h Sundays from 8h30-13h30. the plaza is gorgeous and many nice shops around it such as the Comtesse du Barry.  You can,also, shop in over 850 stores in city center, one of the largest choices in the whole region,even better than Versailles. One of my favorites is the Galerie Saint Germain,built at the place of a boys school from 1907, it became a middle school or collége in 1946, then a lycée technique municipal, or technical high school in 1975. Now there are a brasserie and about 20 stores,open Mondays to Saturdays from 8h30 – 20h00, Sundays from 8h30-14h00. You can walk in by  13 rue de la Salle, – rue des Coches, – or by rue au Pain.

Other than the fancy Pavillon Henri IV, hotel, resto, bar at you can have several good deals from a simple menu sandwich, dessert and soda for 6,50€ at the Fournil de Pierre, 11 Rue Salle  to nicer such as Brasserie du Théatre,  Place Charles de Gaulle  just by chateau and church. La Fontana italian and pizzeria (real Italians), 2, rue Croix de Fer , from RER take rue Léon Désoyer to rue FR Roosevelt on the N13 and right on roundabout there they are,worth the trip. La Fringale,24, rue Saint Pierre  bar à vin and tapas, great, just from RER to rue au pain, the ave de Paris turn quickly right on rue Saint Pierre.

For hotels, the fancy Pavillon Henri IV is grand, then there is the Campanile at Chambourcy, even thus they call SGL is not, but close by car and a bus passes in front, in the city the likely fancy Ermitage des Loges at

Hope you enjoy this wonderful town, a royal town of France. Worth a detour or a train ride from Paris. You will be delighted.




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