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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October 8, 2019

City/town hall of Fontainebleau!

Well if you have been reading my blog over the years (since 2010) you will know my attachment to certain cities/towns in my belle France. One of them is Fontainebleau which was the first castle ever I visited in France because been from my dear late wife Martine home dept 77 Seine et Marne. I have several posts on Fontainebleau in my blog but not on a particular building. The city/town hall or mairie or Hôtel de Ville!

The city of Fontainebleau is situated in the Seine-et-Marne department 77 in the ïle-de-France region, 57 km (about 35 miles) from Paris. The streets of Fontainebleau are wide with the main artery, called Rue Grande, stretching for 2,600 meters long. The transversal artery, which passes in front of the Church Saint Louis and the City/Town hall, extends on 1 200 meters. A few squares in the city of note are the place Solférino, the Place Denecourt, where the gate of the Jardin de Diane opens, the Place d’Armes or place François-Ier, the Place de l’Hotel-de-Ville, the Place de l’Étape-aux-Vins and the Place de la République. The city of Fontainebleau is served by the train station of Fontainebleau-Avon on the line Paris-Lyon – Montereau / Montargis (Transilien R); the stops of Fontainebleau-Forêt and Thomery, located on the same line, serve the Forest of Fontainebleau.

By road which my most times have been here there is the easiest from Paris along the A6B from Porte d’Italie to connect the road D637 connects to the road D607 and entering the city by the Avenue de Verdun, /Rue de la Paroisse to corner slight right onto Rue Grande and the City hall or Hôtel de Ville. As I usually come from Meaux here, we take the A140 to A4 to N36 at Melun take the D606 which is the bd du Maréchal Foch and it becomes the Rue Grande main street to Hôtel de Ville/castle.Just a bit over an hour both runs.

However, I like to tell you a bit now about the Hôtel de Ville or City Hall of Fontainebleau! Which I have overlook in the past , and is an interesting building from both architecture and history. The Hôtel de Ville or mayor’s office of the city of Fontainebleau has a longer history than official sites tells you. All has to do with the French revolution. In actuality, all started way back when conversations were held as far as 1584!


It all started with the Count of Maine which had always belonged to princes of the blood, the last was the Duke of Alençon, brother of Henry III who died in 1584, it is necessary to arrive at the letters of Louis XIV to find a duke of Maine, his son legitimated, Louis Auguste de Bourbon, born of Madame de Montespan, then aged 6 years. Shortly after, in 1678, that the king acquires the Hôtel de l’Epargne and as of 1679 appears the name of the Hôtel de Maine. The Hôtel de l’Epargne was located at rue Basse with a right of passage on the Rue Grande. The Hôtel de Maine since its creation is a property of the duke of Maine. On his death, his son Count d’Eu, the Duke of Penthievre inherits it and sells it to King Louis XVI , and the king installed the stables of the Vénerie. OK

The city council of 1784 established the headquarters of its administration in a local loaned by Louis XVI to the provost, at Place d’Armes, opposite the portal Henry IV, then the main entrance to the Château de Fontainebleau. This project included the construction, on the site of the provost, of an important city hall whose would have been endowed by the king without untied the purse. The work was begun and carried out even up to the first floor but suspended in 1788 due to insufficient resources, the French revolution stopped it all. The king, who had provided everything in the city, gave orders for the installation of offices a three-story house at the corner of rue Basse (now rue du Chateau) and Place d’Armes. This house, which included seventeen rooms in all, had a facade development of 5 tosses 3 perches on the same amount in depth. Sufficient for offices that were not busy at all, and for the accommodation of employees, it does not seem to have served regularly as a meeting place for the city….

As was not a doubt to ask the King or the Crown officials for favors, the Committee obtained permission from the Grand Master of Water and Forests, to meet at its hotel, rue Basse at the Maison d’Andigné, currently the École libre des frères (Free School of the brothers). The deliberations ,often very agitated took place in the auction room. At the provisional City/Town Hall was annexed a small adjoining house at rue Basse, to serve as a jail pending the construction of the City/Town Hall in the Place d’Armes. As the occupation was to be only temporary, no serious planning had been done for its special purpose, so the prisoners escaped with desperate ease for the unfortunate guardian who could not due much.

The new city of Fontainebleau, constituted under the events of 1789, held its meetings at the Hôtel des Eaux et Forets from 1790. But soon after, the forest service needing all its premises, a new displacement was necessary. The city council of that time would have been in great embarrassment . Very graciously it was granted to the city of Fontainebleau, in the castle itself, a local in waiting that the city could get a hotel,as that of Waters and Forests is no longer available and being otherwise insufficient to receive all the people called to the city/town hall. The inauguration took place on April 3, 1790; when the city threw its sights on the Hôtel du Maine, (see above) at that time occupied by the vénerie. This building had for it the advantage of being located on the main market square in the center of the city, and on the most advantageous location This is the current city/ hall whose reconstruction almost total occurred in 1865.

The new City/Town Hall was rebuilt in 1864 under Napoleon III, as a replica of that of Rueil-Malmaison (Hauts de Seine dept 92). The coat of arms of the city was conceded by Napoleon III in 1864. It is located at 40 rue Grande. In 1865, the mayor completely rebuilt the city/town hall in a renaissance style. In 1889, the city acquired the part that had been conceded during the French revolution. The last transformation of the City/Town Hall dates back to 1963. The mayor of the time destroyed the barn adjoining the City/Town Hall and instead built a modern building while using the same materials used for the rest of the City/town hall. And voilà, this is what you see today in Fontainebleau!

OF course, there are no specific tourist webs on the city hall but will give you the city hall and tourist office webpages of Fontainebleau to help you plan your trip here and it is a must!

City of Fontainebleau on things to do and see

Tourist office of Fontainebleau on heritage to see

And there you go another nice building in my belle France and nostalgic Seine et Marne dept 77 and historical architecturally stunning Fontainebleau! Hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




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