Archive for October 8th, 2019

October 8, 2019

A castle and a museum, fit for a King ,this is Saint Germain en Laye!

I have come here many times as it was very close to my old home you know in that other palace/museum and Saint Germain en Laye has a nice market too.  Needless for me to tell you it is one of my favorite cities in France ,and yes they are many!. 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 walked its streets and taste the great places we usually went. It is always with great memories that we have come here thereafter. And yes this is in Yvelines dept 78 of the ïle de France region!

I have told the story in other posts so simply will tell you this is a very old city, and the first mentioned of a castle was from king Louis VI the Fat  in 1124, 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’see that post). The town grew because of the castle and the forest that surround it which are magnificent with a wonderful view of Paris in the distance and its monuments at the park done by Le Notre. The name is old possibly from 972 AD when king of the French Robert I had built a monastery in honor of Saint Germain ,probably St Germain des Prés. The name of the town can be translated as Saint Germain of the forest in new French. It is from here that in 1837 the first railroad line in France is born linking St Germain en Laye with Paris!

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. 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 République, or the parking Pologne at rue de Pologne or the Monoprix store parking. The city is old narrow streets so you are best to be prepare and use to driving in this conditions, if you are, then it will be a breeze, otherwise can be bothersome.

Of course, the castle then, and 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 of France André 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 producing pinot noir base wines!


The National Archeological Museum or Musée d’Archeologie National and it opens its door under Napoleon III in 1867.  Some official guidance webpages are the Castle/Museum:

St Germain en Laye

And the tourist office is here:

S Germain en Laye

The top French football/soccer club PSG or Paris Saint Germain trains here at Camp des Loges. The team was the fusion in 1970 of Paris FC and St Germain FC.  The webpage is here:

During WWII the city is occupied by nazis troops and finally liberated by Americans, the European commandant is set up here as the United States European Command from 1954 at Camp des Loges. (see above today is the training ground of the football/soccer PSG!).

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

Also, to visit are the Castle of or chateau du Vals right at the end of the grand terrace that overlooks Paris, it house since 1927 the retirees of the Legion d’Honneur of France. And the castle or Chateau de Hennemont  built early 20C by a pharmacist of different architectural styles , it sits right at the entrance to the city on the N13 road. By the Rampe des Grotte you will see fountain dedicated to the dragon,neptune, and whales, the only remains of the new castle that existed there built by Henri IV but left in dispair when Versailles was built.It sits now behind the resto pavillon Henri IV.

Many beautiful mansions or hôtels particuliers were built and remain wonderful properties to see in town, these are , Hôtel de Bontemps, 9 rue Roger-d-Nézot, built 17C for the room maid of king Louis XIV. Hôtel de Fieubet, 2 rue Voltaire, adviser to king Louis XIV and chancellor of the queen that acquires it in 1670 and resold it in 1693. Hôtel de Guise, 17 rue des Coches,  rebuilt in the 18C it belongs to Henri de Guise, grandson of king Henri I.  Hôtel de Noailles, at rue d’Alsace a wonderful property of the dukes of Noailles governors of Saint Germain until the revolution and built at end of 17C by architect Hardouin Mansart,  a road was created in 1836,crossing the central property of the building the two wings still standing at 10 and 11 rue d’Alsace. composer Mozart stayed here in 1778. Hôtel des Maréchaux de Villeroy 18 rue de la Salle ,property of  Nicolas de Neuville, duke of  Villeroy (1597-1685),minister of State of king Louis XIII, and one of the governors of king Louis  XIV in 1646 , becoming marshal of France the same year.  The property passes to his son François, raise with Louis XIV and also duke of  Villeroy, he was marshal of France, and governor of  Louis XV as well as minister of the council of Regents . Hôtel known as Conti and Hôtel known as de Soubise, Place Charles de Gaulle, built between  1754 -1758. The Hôtel Conti  was purchase by Louis Armand 1er de Bourbon-Conti, Prince of Conti . Property of  Louis-François de Bourbon Conti, prince of Conti that fought under Louis XV in Germany, Flanders and Italy during the war of succession . In 1754 ,the Duchess d’Orléans, daughter of  Louis-Armand  de Bourbon Conti sell the hotel to Georges René Binet, first room maid of dauphin Louis Auguste, future king  Louis XVI. the hotel was renovated between 1754- 1758 as well as the neighboring Hôtel de Soubise . Hôtel de la Feuillade, 24 rue du Vieil Abreuvoir, belongs to François d’Aubusson, duke de la Feuillade, marshal of France in 1675 and  vice-roy of Sicily in 1677. It passes on to his heir and now to the city. Hôtel de la Marquise de Maintenon, 23 rue du Vieil Abreuvoir  a modest home at first built after 1643  and purchase by madame de Maintenon in 1680. She never lived here as she was living with the king at the chateau de Saint Germain ;today there is no public admitted but you can see the outside.  Hôtel du Duc de Montausier, 22 rue du Vieil Abreuvoir built in the 17C and renovated in the 19C it belongs to the Duke of Montausier (1610-1690), governor of the dauphin .It later was occupied by Marshal  Lyautey from 1887 to 1891.  Hôtel de Crequy, 10-12 rue de Paris, renovated and enlarge in the 18C and then in 1979/1980. It has at second and third floors iron balconies of the times of Louis XV. The door is done from the 19C  in wood.

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. More on the galerie and shops in St Germain en Laye here:

St Germain en laye

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 webpage:

To nicer such as Brasserie du Théatre,  Place Charles de Gaulle  just by chateau and church; webpage:

Also, La Fontana italian and pizzeria (real Italians), 2, rue Croix de Fer , from RER A take rue Léon Désoyer to rue FR Roosevelt on the N13 and right on roundabout and there they are,worth the trip:webpage Yelp reviews:

La Fringale,24, rue Saint Pierre  bar à vin and tapas, great, just from RER A to rue au pain, then ave de Paris turn quickly right on rue Saint Pierre. Webpage of Gault Millau guides:

To eat, and see the very best for sports go to the Bitter End, 20 rue St Pierre, for some drinks and light food. Webpage:

I do shop and enjoy the Famille Mary, 14 rue de Pologne, honey, pain d’épice, bio, supplements,soaps all derived from honey, this is the local branch stores all over,  webpage:

Also next door , my dear late wife Martine favorite, Damart, 20 rue de pologne, great clothing for men and women very old traditional name in France, we do like it; webpage :

For bread, pastries and all sort of goodies are favorites was Boulangerie Bertrand , 18 rue de Pologne,no web tel +33 01 34 51 02 65. And for chocolates, macarons, fine pastries and cakes Pâtisserie Grandin, 13 rue au Pain,  webpage:

For hotels, well we have not stayed in any but for business lunch I had event at the wonderful fancy Pavillon Henri IV (see restaurant above)  grand, webpage:

Hope you enjoy this wonderful Saint Germain en Laye, a royal town of France. Worth a detour or a train ride from Paris. You will be delighted.  And remember , happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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