The streets of Maisons Laffitte!

So as I have done several posts on the streets of towns and cities and we love to walk once in town/city let me tell you about another dear and near for many years. No need to repeat me think but just to show you Maisons-Laffitte is in the Yvelines department 78 in the Île-de-France region of my belle France, located approximately 10 km from Saint-Germain-en-Laye , 21 km from Versailles, and approximately 18 km from Paris. The town borders the towns of Saint-Germain-en-Laye as well as around 800 meters from the border of Achères , and Le Mesnil-le-Roi. To the east, it is separated by the Seine river from Sartrouville and Cormeilles-en-Parisis.

I will briefly touch on the history here I like as written several posts on it already in more details. The main thing to see here is the Castle of course !

The Poissys remained lords of Maisons until the 15C. Two sisters shared the lordship. It   was rebuilt in 1602 by the successive purchases of a family of Parisian parliamentarians, the Longueil, whose arms became those of the town. The great man of the family was René de Longueil, superintendent of finance in 1650. The fortune of his wife, heir to several great Parisian financiers, enabled him to address the famous François Mansart to give himself a castle commensurate with his ambitions. From 1634 to 1646, Mansart built one of the masterpieces of 17C French architecture: the Château de Maisons. René de Longueil endowed it with a park of about 400 hectares, which king Louis XIV authorized the closure in 1658. The layout of the alleys continued little by little until 1740. It was even later that it was completed forestation of plots. In 1777, the Marquis de Soyécourt, heir to the Longueil family, sold Maisons to a brother of king Louis XVI, the Comte d’Artois (later king Charles X). The latter installed there, but only from November to March, for food and training, his English stable, about thirty animals, which he dispersed in 1784. The French revolution confiscated Maisons. This national asset was bought first by Lanchère, supplier of the armies, then by Marshal Lannes and finally, in 1818, by the banker Jacques Laffitte. He was the real initiator of the equestrian vocation of Maisons. He dreamed of making it a training center comparable to Newmarket. He organized the first races on the meadows on the banks of the Seine river which became today’s racetrack.   In 1833, Laffitte decided to sell the Grand Parc du Château. He subdivided it to make it a colony, a city made up of country houses. The main buyers were wealthy Parisians, from business or entertainment. There were, of course, more modest buyers. The operation made such an impression that, in less than ten years, people got into the habit of saying Maisons-Laffitte instead of Maisons-sur-Seine, a custom formalized in 1882. The inauguration of the racetrack in 1878 stimulated horse racing activities, many trainers settled in town and in the park from the end of the 19C.   In the 20C, urbanization continued west and south, gradually covering the old agricultural land of which nothing remains. Then the population grew thanks to the fragmentation of private estates and the construction of numerous collective buildings from 1950 to 1970.   Both the Great Park entrance pavilions, each with their monumental gate, are the work of Mansart . Between these doors, a gap protected the entrance of the park without limit in sight. This group formed a side entrance of the castle park.

And now let’s walk a bit on this wonderful town of Maisons Laffitte; Some of the more interesting streets of are

The main shopping street here is the  Avenue De Longueil, a long avenue taking you from the RER A train station to the castle and loads of stores, restos, bars etc. We used to shop at the Epicerie de longueil , and had lunch at L’Avenue resto here many times even without going to the castle.

maisons laffitte

maisons laffitte

Avenue Lavoisier: no. 18 at the corner with Avenue La Bruyère is the birthplace of Jacques Fath, French fashion designer considered one of the dominant influences in high fashion postwar, with Balenciaga, Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain.

maisons laffitte

Place Marine . This beautiful square in the Great Park was named after the wife of Jacques Laffitte. It is crossed by Avenue Albine; and north seven avenues fan out.  At no 5 picturesque house built in 1835 with an octagonal gazebo, to Etiennette Moussy, Parisian rented by architect Théodore Charpentier. Going towards the no 8 made a small passage by the No. 26 of the Avenue Albine where is the holiday home of Roger Martin du Gard . His parents rented it each year, in summer, To escape the heat of Paris. By no. 8: Charmettes former hotel restaurant where the writer Jacques de Lacretelle stayed in 1921. He has written several letters to his friend Marcel Proust. It was built in 1846, the first period of the “Colony Laffitte.” At no. 6 back on the parcel a Villa bought in 1901 by Leonie Rosalie Balmain and sisters who owned a couture house in Paris. To the left on the avenue Desaix extended the former estate of the Aga Khan. In 1940, the villa was confiscated by the Nazi army and later housed the headquarters of Rommel. The area is now subdivided.

At no 6 Avenue Duguesclin; Maison les Turrets-facade combining three architectural styles: renaissance pillars of the porch, Baroque pediment, balusters and putti 18C.

At Avenue de Wagram No. 8 Maison Juillard, 1837. Its architect Charles Duval, pierced windows behind some sculptures for more light in the stairwell. These windows are hidden for the sake of symmetry of the facade. They are called “Suffering of Days.”

Place Sully  at no. 4 birthplace of Jean Cocteau. The artist retained happy memories of his childhood in this house that belonged to his grandfather. He called it the park of “green paradise”. The grandfather, Eugene Lecomte, has also offered a nice amount of money to the city in 1881 to develop fountains.

Avenue Corneille no 1 The Polish Literary Institute and the Kultura publishing house settled in 1951, in the villa the Belvedere. Organizers lived there as a community, a phalanx. The authors banned in Poland were honored.

Avenue Gretry No. 8 This house dating from 1837 housed since 1926 the famous restaurant La Vieille Fontaine. Jean Cocteau often had lunch there. All Paris had dinner there, and the presidential entourage.

Place Wagram no 5: Major Cotton House 19C, former senior officer of the guards of the Tower of London, which sold it to Emilienne d’Alencon. She had been the mistress of the Duke of Uzes, Leopold II of Belgium and wife of Percy Woodland. She lived here with her second husband, the jockey Alec Carter. At No. 2: Villa Victory or the Nursery: Its construction in 1838, this house was considered “American” because of its covered gallery. In 1930, the villa became a nursery for children of German communists persecuted or in special assignment. The writer Arthur Koestler of Hungarian origin is called to write promotional text for funds. Instead of staying two days he was held for 2 months with children from two to sixteen in 1934.

Place du Château. At the Malesherbes room location was the home of Charles Laffitte, Le Val Fleuri. Nephew of banker Jacques he was one of the founding members of the Jockey Club. Later, Max Lebaudy said the Little Sugar, lived there: he was the son of a wealthy family of sugar barons, known as  spendthrift and very eccentric.

maisons laffitte

Avenue du General Leclerc No. 2a:  the Cave, The last vestige of the castle stables. Pierre Giffard, editor at Le Figaro, had built his house around this cave. It is the origin of the first Paris-Brest bicycle race in 1891 which gave its name to a famous cake in the shape of a bicycle wheel, created by pastry Durand ; installed at Avenue Longueil . In 1926 Mr. and Mrs. lived here. Darmel, singing at the Paris Opera who created the Maisons-Laffitte Conservatory. At No. 2: the Florentine, Beautiful Italian villa dating from 1905. Look at the frieze of graffito.

And, Rue du Mesnil / Rue du Prieuré at No. 11 rue du Mesnil:  the maison or house known as The prayer. René de Longueil gave the land and did move the priory in 1644 next to the old church. The current building is a mix of styles and periods. At no. 1 Rue du Prieuré  the school / college “The Priory”, opened in 1905.

The city of Maison Laffitte on heritage in French: City of Maisons Laffitte on heritage

The tourist office of Maisons Laffitte in French: Tourist office of Maisons Laffitte

And there you go a pleasant walking tour of a very nice town of the Yvelines, nice castle known racecourse, and beautiful architecture and history in many more houses. Hope you enjoy the walks at Maisons Laffitte.

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

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