Archive for December 11th, 2020

December 11, 2020

In Aranjuez there was a Prince, Palacio de Aranjuez!

One of the nicest story coming out of my old Spain, the prince love story of Aranjuez! Anybody heard of the concierto of Aranjuez? Well its a masterpiece even brought to theater. Written by Juaquin Rodrigo while on his last year of stayed in Paris, 1939! A masterpiece.

Aranjuez is nice quant,regal, and chic. The town is really the palace and I like to bring to life the story of it in my blog from May 2018.  I know about Aranjuez since a small enfant, my mother would sing to me the concierto of Aranjuez, that has been even turns into operas and zarzuelas in my beloved Spain. The best I heard was played by Paco de Lucia ,the great Flamenco guitarist. It is said that Juaquin Rodrigo was inspired by the love to his wife Victoria. Many versions tells of a love between a Prince and a lady that was not possible to be, this one I like it better but both are not proving yet.

Aranjuez is about 44 km from Madrid on the left bank of the Tajo river. Here at the palace were signed many treaties over the years, my two favorite ones were the Treaty of Aranjuez of 1779 between France and Spain where Spain entered the War of Independance of the United States as an ally of France; and the Treaty of Aranjuez of 1793 , a protective defense between Spain and the United Kingdom in face of the defeat and execution of king Louis XVI during the French revolution.


Let me take you deeper into the palace. The place is big and right in city center, easy parking up the main street for free was easy to find along Calle de la Florida; we always walk all over town and into the garden and forest. We found the best places to eat away from the center around the palace, less authentic, lot of tourist influences, best to walk away  like by Calle Postas after the covered market, if you want the real taste of Aranjuez.

The Palace is complex, lots of rooms and need a lot of time. I have seen it before and so many of them , rather see the gardens sublime. However, for all visitors to Spain, it is a must to visit me think.  The Royal Palace of Aranjuez is one of the residences of the King of Spain , part of the Comunidad de Madrid autonomous region.

A bit of history I like.

When Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V or King Carlos III became interested in developing Aranjuez as a Royal site for hunting came to use it in 1501, it was already done by Felipe the Beautiful on the old masters palace of Santiago. It eventually was ordered built by king Felipe II to architect Juan Bautista de Toledo ,he died during the construction and it was finished by Juan de Herrera. During the 17C the work was completely stop until the times of king Fernando VI and enlarged during king Carlos III that ordered built the wings on back as you can see today.  a smaller Palace was done called Casa del Labrador or house of the labrador outside the limits of the castle and forming part of the Prince’s gardens or Jardin del Principe. The huge gardens were done to create bigness in the palace and were irrigated with the waters of the Tajo and Jarama rivers, been the most important gardens of the Habsburgs period.

In 1808, the ceremony held in the Royal Chapel of the Palace there the Supreme central council and kingdom government was created; been part the deputies from the supremes council of the main capital cities of the old kingdoms. In 1971, the lower level of the palace was created the Historical Court Costume museum. In 1997 ,the museum reopened as the Palace lifestyle museum that included the uniform of the King Juan Carlos I from the date of his proclamation in 1975 as well as the dress of queen Sofia of the same day; you can see her dress as bride as well as those of queen Letizia, infanta Elena and Cristina. From 1977 to 1983 it served as residence of the foreign chief of States visiting Spain by 1983 this function was transfered to the Palacio Real de El Pardo.

Now , the Palace of Aranjuez is exactly located between the avenida del Palacio, and the plaza de las Parejas on the south, garden or jardín del Parterre by the east, stream of water by the north and the plaza del Raso de la Estrella by the west.


Some of the best from inside are:

The dining room  (Comedor) is the center of the Palace and decorated as conversation piece since 1748 under king Fernando VI and later dining room per se under king Carlos IV. You will see lots of decorations here , meaning several dictums such as justice, prudence and charity, faith etc in rococco style, and the four corners of the world . You have several paintings here , as well as huge clocks from the times of Carlos IV, furniture, from Fernando VII and porcelains.

The Arab office or Gabinete Arabe; was inspired by the room of the two sisters in the Alhambra of Granada, and built between 1848 and 1850 by the same architect that restored the  Nazari palace in Granada, Rafael Contreras.  It is decorated in ceramic tiles walls and sculpture chalk polichrome with arabic symbols. The Andalucian decoration is completed by a transparency of the Lions patio of French making done with damascus of silk and candles in bronze and porcelain plaques painted in 1835 created at the manufacture of Sévres , France as a gift of king of the French Louis Philippe of Orléans to the regent queen Maria Cristina de Borbon Dos Sicilias of Spain.  There is a huge neo gothic lamp in golden bronze with 81 lights in two levels gift of infante Don Francisco de Paula to his consort king Francisco de Asis de Borbon.

The Porcelain office or Gabinete de Porcelana , was the first work of the Royal Factory of Porcelain in the Buen Retiro Palace finished in 1765. Later it was the inspiration for the homogenous stand on the  Royal Palace of Madrid on a style closer to the neo gothic.  You have around seven big mirrors and other portraits with a oriental figures, dragons, monkeys, fruits, and diverse objects . There is a porcelain lamp resembling a palm tree with open arms and a Chinese holding its edge with a monkey doing the same.  The work is with golden painting on the windows, glass enclosures and doors to match the decoration of the office. There are six chairs in ceramic lacquer on the English model of queen Anne. This office served as a room for the office of king Carlos III and later as a music hall for the queen Isabel II with a piano of Collard & Collard, now in the bedroom of the queen.

And the gardens are wonderful indeed. I think the best ,yes!!!

Next to the facade of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, there is the lawn garden or Jardin del Parterre ordered built by king Felipe V to the French gardener Bouteloul in 1727 and done in 1746.  On the northern  part you will see the Tajo river and from the bridge or Puente Barcas you see the arches of the Royal Palace that are divided from view by  jars of  flowers , a well, created in 1762 by king Carlos III.

This garden has several fountains amongst them the Fountain of Hercules and Anteo and Ceres and Nereidas. The fountain of Hércules and Anteo, is the most espectacular ordered built by King Fernando VII in 1827.  On the extreme western of the garden you have a small square facing the Royal Palace and you have there the Statues garden or Jardín de las Estatuas, due to its fourteen busts in marble of roman emperors, kings of Spain, and personages from antiquity place in niches on the wall. It is also, known as Kings garden or Jardín del Rey as it was king Felipe II who ordered it built in the second half of the 16C , the garden is enclosed on the south side of the Royal Palace next to the Clock tower  on the renaissance style.  The garden of islands or jardin de las Islas was called as such for been surrounded on three sides by the Tajo river and on the south by an artificial stream, and it is on the north of the Royal Palace.  Its origins go back to the order of Santiago between 1387 and 1409 that was a masters palace build here before the Royal Palace.  When in 1487, king Fernando the Catholic became Master of the Order, the Queen Isabel the Catholic took it for her and became known as the queens garden or Jardín de la Reina. Later on, kings Carlos I and Felipe II decided to change the area into a natural priviledge forested area.

You only need to enter the garden over the ramp bridge and you see the fountain of the pharmacist or Fuente de la Boticaria, a circular glass with children with shells and rocks figures . At the back there is the room of the Catholic Kings or Salon de los Reyes Catolicos, a promenade of 300 meters with plantains trees next to the levy of the Tajo river. The fountain or Fuente de Hercules e Hidra is the first to find here after crossing the stream by a small stairs on a pedestal you see the figure of Hercules killing the Hydra. The fountain was ordered built by king Felipe IV  to replace a former fountain dedicated to Diana in the times of king Felipe II. The sculptures on the pedestal around the fountain were purchase by king Felipe V and originally located in the gardens of La Granja (Segovia) see post.  Later moved to the columns at the entrance to the Jardin del Principe by ordered of king Carlos IV and finally are now resting in the Prado museum of Madrid.

The fountain of Apollo or Fuente de Apolo  from the 16C is just next to that of Hercules on a marble pedestal on which center there is a cup with the figure of Apollo with the foot on a dragon; the small square was called previously Puerta del Sol de Aranjuez next to the street or Calle de la Galeria with water  pumps reaching hip high call the Burladero (sort of the barrier where the torero hides in the arena). This walk takes you to the Fuente del Réloj or Watch fountain also known as hours or rings that is in square flank by six benches in stone and the fountain in the middle. When is working the shadows of the water spouts marks the hours of the day! We moved on to the Spines Children fountain or Fuente del Nino de la Espina also known as the spines or witches ordered created by king Felipe III with a round stone and corinthian column in each corner ;in the center there is  there a personnage in stone trying to take a spine out from his left foot.  In each corner of the fountain there is a column on which top there is a figure of an witch throwing water to the center of the fountain of a witch.  The Fountain of Venus or Fuente de Venus is also known as the Fuente de Don Juan de Austria as it is believed the stone was taken from the battle of Lepanto.  It is located in the center of a square with a figure of Venus in bronce trying to dry its hair with the hands; it was sent to Spain from Florence in 1571.

Deeper into the garden you come to the Fuente de Baco, or Bacchus fountain; located in a hexagonal square with stone benches and at the center you see the god Baco, crown with grape branches sitting on a barrel with a wine cup in his right hand. The main body of this fountain was a gift of king Felipe III to the Duke of Florence and designed in marble by Giambologna. It was originally designed to house the Fountain or Fuente de Sanson el Filibustero giving by king Felipe IV to king Charles I of England in 1623 and today it is at the Victoria and Albert museum of London. Since 1656 it is crown by the figure of Baco done by Jacobo Jonglinck. Continue on the walk with the Fountain or Fuente de Neptuno located far from the entrance to the garden, representing god of Neptune done in a shell type thrown by the right hand on two marine horses, around it in four pedestals you have the goddess of Cibeles, and Ceres each with a crown in the form of a castle and carriages thrown by lions held by children. On the third pedestal you have god Jupiter on an eagle over a globe of the world held by titans with the legend written as ” The king his majesty Felipe II ordered made this fountain while governor Don Francisco Brizuela, year MDCXXI = 1621.”

The jardin de Narciso garden is the most extensive on the Tajo river and Calle de la Reina. A perimeter of 7 km and over 150 hectares of which only about half are to be visited. Great varieties of trees, and a dam of stone call Malecon de Solera. It has a port or fortified embarcadero ordered done by king Carlos IV , and very much used during the kings visit to Aranjuez.  It shows a fountain or Fuente de Narciso next to his dog almost fallen off while holding on are four Hercules. It was damaged during the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt in 1827. Continue to the fountain of the swans or Fuente de los Cisnes inspired by the one at La Granja palace (Segovia) see post. It has a stone with two children figures in marble holding a swan from which the peak water comes out. It was damaged in the War of independance (c 1808) partially destroyed but in 2009 there is a renovation done on the figures of the Children and swan. The Apolo fountain or Fuente de Apolo in carrara marble shows the god on the high of the pedestal, ordered by king Carlos IV was not finished until his son king Fernando VII reign. It has a semicircular shape with six columns crown with guardians ducks; on each side two square columns and the statue of Apollo purchased by king Felipe V and located at La Granja (Segovai), king Carlos IV ordered brought to Aranjuez. The current statue in the Jardin del Principe is a replica as the original was sent back to La Granja in 2000.

The lake or estanque de los Chinescos or shadow plays is an artificial lake with small fence around it on three isles on which there is a temple or kiosk of greek style, other shadow plays and an Egyptian mausoleum in granite. The Greek pavillion is the work of Juan de Villanueva (escorial) with eight columns of ionic order holding the ceiling crown with an pineapple in bronce painted like marble color.  The shadow plays temple was heavily damaged during the War of independance (C 1808) and rebuilt by king Fernando VII as a kiosk on the Turkish style with colorful greens, red, and golden colors. Nearby there is a rollercoaster or Montana Rusa even if the true name is Swiss mountain crowned by a temple in wood from where you have great views of the garden. Finally, on the extreme western part of the garden you have the Casa del Labrador ordered built by king Carlos IV and a great collection of statues and clocks. In this garden , you have pheasants and royal turkeys as well as squirrels and other animals.

The Isabel II garden or Jardin de Isabel II is the last garden to be built in Aranjuez from the 19C when queen Isabel II was still a girl. It is a square garden located next to the Plaza de San Antonio and the Paseo del Brillante,created in 1830, while four years later it was put in the middle on a marble pedestal a bronce statue of the girl queen; it has eight benches in stone and eight flower pots. It is very nice as a last stop before leaving the city.


The tourist office of Aranjuez

The city of Aranjuez on its heritage:

The tourist office of the Comunidad de Madrid on Aranjuez:

A good webpage on the history of the palace of Aranjuez :

The National Heritage site of Spain on the palace of Aranjuez

There you go a nice palace in a nice town of old Madrid, maybe not a love story for you or me but nevertheless its a very romantic place especially in the gardens. Enjoy the Royal Palace of Aranjuez!!

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

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December 11, 2020

Versailles 2013: The year of André Le Nôtre!!!

So continuing with my updates of older posts and mostly in a black and white series as individual sight posts and pictures are elsewhere in my blog; I come to this one. It is unique as not really a revision but a re post in its entirety. I feel for a personage like him,it merits to be seen by  many more of my readers. Let me tell you the story of the great gardener of France, André Le Nôtre.

It was on a cloudy rainy cold Saturday in Bretagne, I can only think of my beloved Versailles, just back from been a visitor there after almost 10 years of residency. So, therefore, let me tell you a bit more about Versailles and the year 2013, the year of André Le Nôtre.

Most now know who is Le Nôtre so I will cut short the introduction. He was born in Paris March 12, 1613 (birthplace site the Tuileries, the gardens!!!) ; and this year 2013 Versailles is celebrating the 400th anniversary of his birth with a year long celebration on his honor.  There is so much missing on his life because most of the papers of his genie were lost over the periods,,,,!!! his family: André Le Nôtre is a son probably of grandchild of the gardeners of the Tuileries. His father, Jean, has the title since 1625 of plants and garden designer, and share the responsability with Claude Mollet 1er of the Tuileries gardens. His grandfather  Pierre Le Nôtre, was in charge since 1572 of the upkeep of the terraces garden of the Tuileries.  André Le Nôtre marries in 1640, Françoise Langlois, daughter of an artillery commissary of France, they have 3 kids, all died of early age. Moreover, the tradition continues because two of his sisters became gardeners too.

His sister, Françoise marries Simon Bouchard, manager of the orangeries of the Tuileries, post that allows the bequest of their children in the same field. The other sister, Elisabeth marries the gardener Pierre Desgots,that worked most notably at Chantilly, and their grandson Claude Desgots will be the next closest collaborator of André Le Nôtre. He learned the trade of designing by working for 6 years with the shop of Simon Vouet in the Louvre. It is here that he meets and befriend the painter Le Brun (later work with him at Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles). He, also, worked in the gardens of Luxembourg Paris, Palais-Royale Paris,and Fontainebleau. His hands are at work too at  Trianon, Clagny, Maintenon, Saint-Cyr and maybe Marly. In the châteaux de Saint-Maur, Saint-Martin de Pontoise, Chaville, Louvois, Pontchartain ,and Conflans, as well as in the provinces such as  Gaillon, Guermantes, Castries, Les Rochers, and so on and on….He started his work at Versailles by order of the King Louis XIV in 1662 next to Le Vau and Le Brun. The making of Versailles begins,and so the ever bright start of Le Nôtre rises to touch the heaven and stayed there forever in the minds of all of us that admire this place so much.

He lived on a house not far from the Pavillon de Marsan (building where today is the musee des arts décoratifs), and it is in this nearby house where he died on September 15 1700. He is buried at the nearby Church Saint-Roch in rue Saint Honoré. Upon his death ,the local newspaper Mercure Galant said of him in 1700, (Trans) ” The king came to lost a man unique, and in love with his service to him, and a strong admireer of his own art, that had given him honor. It is Mr le Notre, general controller of buildings for his majesty , its gardens, and manufacturers of France….Never a man has given more of all that he has been able to give and contribute to the beauty of gardening”

The Events, the city of Versailles celebrates the heroe of it all. 2013, will be activities all year around all over the city.  Starting March 12 every month ,there will be something going on.  Some of these were

The beautification of the avenue de l’Europe, with a cyclable path along the sidewalks without interruption from the there at the ave Saint Cloud jonction to the avenue de Paris. The Esprit Jardin annually will be held 23 and 24 March in front of the Cathédrale Saint Louis.  A litteral world of gardens right in the city, with animations and classes.  There will be exposition in the main train stations such as Rive Droite, Rive Gauche, Chantiers. The Jardin des Senteurs at the cour des senteurs on april 25th right by the Potager du Roi. An exposition of floral art will be held April 18 at the Hôtel de Ville.

May 2013 continues with the renovation of the garden in the Maison des Musiciens Italiens as well as jointly with the SNCF to have bicycle paths from the train stations to visit the city on a vélo! it will criss cross the city and give you an opportunity to see more than the castle museum…At the Hôtel de Ville, may 30 and 31 there will be small scale models of gardens of France. In front of the musée Lambinet on May 16 the students of the gardeners school will present a garden a la francaise in front of the museum! at bd de la Reine.

June, 2013 the great allée Le Notre, more often overlook by visitors, it is the extension of the castel envision by Le Nôtre, along the axe allée des Mortemets that goes to the Piéce d’eau des Suisses at the today caserne Pion almost at the doors of the city of Saint-Cyr-l’école right by the ferme de Gally, back back of the grand canal! A complete renovation in the gardens all dear to me such as Potagerdu Roiparc Balbi, and domaine de Madame Elizabeth.

On june 30, a guided tour of the Allée Royale in the castle will be done to explain in details this part of the gardens it will start from the bassin d’Apollon descending to the Grand Canal, and beyond into the Etoile Royale going to the communities dear to me such as the Saint-Cyr-l’école,Fontenay-le-Fleury, Rennemoulin, and Villepreux (road  D307).

This month will be the month Moliére so spectacles all over the city in the gardens with at the Potager du Roi, Alice in wonderland!

July, 2013. The renovation of the gardens in the cementeries of Versailles! including that of the Israelists. light activities because its summer and August we skip.

September, october, november, 2013. The fall begins strong, opening of the gardens or jardin des étangs Gobert, two old fountains that feeds the ones in the castle in the 17C! will be back operational on events of sept 14 and 15 it is at the extension of the avenue de Sceaux in the district of Chantiers! The laberynth of Versailles will have a historic exposition on Sept 14 to Dec 15, at the municipal library, ave de l’independance Americaine in the galerie des Affaires étrangéres on what was Le Nôtre thinking when he did this!  A huge field of 38 fountains and 39 statues evoquing the dreams of Esope, disappearing in 1775 but many were found and preserve, and now showcase!!!not to missed !!!

The famous Nuit Blanche or white night Saturday October 5 under the title of night of creation or nuit de la Création; it will lit up the buildings of the école des beaux-arts, atelier numerique,académie international des arts du spectacle and the centre d’art contemporaine la Maréchalerie.  The expo inside the museum Lambinet, of Anna Maria Tsakali, of Greek origin studied at the école nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, will have over 50 of her work on display for the first time in a museum! December 15, bd de la Reine.

By the end of the year, it will open the magnificent long work done, and now finally will open, the gardens or jardins architecturés de l’ancien hôpital royal Richaud, the old royal hospital Richaud now a modern condo complex build around it but the central cupola and gardens were kept for all to continue enjoying this place ,wonderful by rue du marechal Foch and rue Richaud.

Not to be outdone, the Château de Versailles will be honoring too. From June 11 to october 31, 2013 Giuseppe Penone will have his sculptures in the gardnes of the palace museum. On october 22 the castle will showcase Le Nôtre and all he had done for it. they are ongoing and some already done restorations in the castle palace museum such as the bassin and parterre de Latone, Bosquet du Théatre d’eau, bassin des enfants dorés, and some wonderful sculptures will be back in the gardens for the first time in a very long time, awaiting impatiently for this!!! By June and July the spectacles will be at the top for Le Nôtre, a prize for the garden books will be organise during the rdv aux jardins in the Petit Trianon on june 1 and 2nd ,le prix Le Nôtre!

Of course, a webpage to tell all about this wonderful event was anneelenotre now discontinue ,but all the information about the festivities was there, as I only wrote the ones I think was the best, there will be plenty more.  The government of France had in the Ministry of Culture a space for him all alone in French, that is the honor of a good son. The article still there:

The Le Monde newspaper had an article still visible on André Le Nôtre in French:

The Château de Versailles of course, has a page on him in English  to honor those who have contributed to this magnificent castle:

And the webpage secret gardens or jardin secrets has a page on André Le Nôtre in French:

There he is André Le Nôtre the great gardener of France, and the world for that matter. What he did is unique in many places and today kept and follow and copy; simply the best ever. And became the greatest best at Versailles! Hope you enjoy the post as I did

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

December 11, 2020

A Royal town of France, Saint Germain en Laye!!!

And coming back of you with a revise oldie but good one. This is my old home area and bringing back many memories of visiting not just for the sights but as a regular resident shopping and walking its marvelous city center with over 700 stores! I like to bring you back to Saint Germain en Laye!

For some reason, must be nostalgic night and memories float in my mind I remember Saint Germain en Laye. It is a town link easily on the N186 to my beloved Versailles where I lived and taking advantage of the location wandered to all these wonderful towns of France in the Yvelines dept 78 region of the ïle de France.

Saint Germain en Laye is a Royal town not only because it hosted and or was visited by Kings but the one Sun King Louis XIV was born here! It is also only 19 km from Paris Notre Dame Cathedral with just an elevation of 193 meters. A forest that covers 3/4 of its city limits territory! Where the kings used to hunt too. Also, a cinematic city with already 15 films done here over the years.

A town that saw the birth of  (year following name) :Henri II, 1518; Marguerite de France, Queen Margot, 1553 ; Jeanne d’Albret, (mother of Henri IV and great figure of the Reformist era) ,1528;Charles IX , 1550 ; Louis de Buade count de Frontenac,( Governor of New France (Canada)),1622; King Louis XIV, 1638 ; Philippe de France, duke of Orléans,1640 ; Philippe de France, duke of Anjou, (oldest son of Louis XIV), 1660; Marie-Louise  of England , (daughter of king James II of England exile in the city and buried at the Church of St Germain across from castle), 1692;  Claude Debussy ,1862 ; Edouard Bourdet, 1887;  Jehan Alain, 1911 ;  Christian Fouchet, 1911,(ambassador and previous minister and follower of the first hour of Gen de Gaulle); José Artur, 1927; Michel Pericard 1929, (previous mayor of Saint-Germain- en-Laye (1977-1999), deputy of the Yvelines  (1978-1999) , and Vice President of the National Assembly of France (1997-1999); Jean-Edern Hallier, 1936;  and Pierre Douglas, 1941…

A town that saw the passing of figures such as (year of death following name) : Louis XIII,1643 ; James II king of England, 1701; The knight  Ramsay  1743 ; François de Beauharnais, (father in law of Joséphine), 1800 ; prince de Polignac, 1847 ; Adolphe Thiers, President of the IIIe Républic, 1877; the Poet Catulle Mendès, 1909 ; Henri Cochet, Tennis champion 6 times winner of the Davis Cup, 1987; Suzanne Chantal, roman writer, 1994.

And  a town who have passed by in the city, some of the famous are : Molière, alias Jean-Baptiste Poquelin; Mozart for a day in 1778 ; Benjamin Franklin also in 1778Alexandre Dumas father and son. The father wrote  “Les Trois mousquetaires” and “Le Comte de Monte Cristo” in the city while commander of the national guard in town as well as directed the theater.  The son wrote  “La Dame aux camélias” in the city. The musician Claude Debussy, and the painter Maurice Denis , that has a museum in the city as well. And of course, many many others too numerous to mention.

The city has been cited as the house of the famous or maisons des illustres by the ministry of Culture of France, UNICEF city child friendly, two leave branches  Ville Nature for the natural protection, three flowers Ville Fleurie for the protection and decoration of its trees/flowers; Accueil Vélo for the best host on cyclists from the tourist organizations, and the Les Rubans de Patrimoine or ribbons of heritage for its preservation of the heritage sites in the city. Amongst many others.

It’s history goes way back in the history of the French kingdom and is very rich starting with king Louis VI le fat in 1124 building a residency, and Saint Louis a Chapel ,and Charles V both are made rebuilt/renovated. Henri III has a New Castle (château-neuf)  built in 1556, and does many other improvements such as the gardens; many things done here such as the marriage of François I in 1514, birth of Henri III in 1519, jurist dual or coup of Jarnac in 1547, proclamation of the edict of 1563 by Charles X that fix January 1st the beginning of the year for all of France, signature in 1570 of the peace of  Saint-Germain to end the wars of religions, birth of Louis-Dieudonné, future king Louis XIV in 1638.  Baptism of the Grand dauphin, marriage of Mademoiselle de Blois and prince de Conti (whose palace is today the city hall of Versailles !),  Concerts of Lulli and Quinault, comedy showing by Molière. The  Château-Vieux  becomes the center of European politics with the exile of king James II of England, king of Scotland until his death in 1701. Louis XVI ordered the passing of the water of the town in 1777 ,and gives the Château-Neuf  to his brother , the Count of Artois future king Charles X.

After the French revolution, Consul, Empire, Restoration, and Monarch of July the town goes thru its ups and downs. The castle is converted into a prison (Rouget de Lisle was a prisoner here he who wrote the Marseillaise), a hospital, horse cavalry school, military headquarter, and later military prison. The opening of the first railroad line in 1837 linking the city with Paris gives a new breath of air to the city. The visit of Queen Victoria of England for a pilgrimage to the tomb of James II in 1895 allows in the mind of Napoléon III to create the museum of antiquities in 1867 (still there in the castle). The peace with Austria is signed in St Germain en Laye in 1919 dismantling the Austro-Hungarian empire. The Nazi high command and other army services take possession of the castle as HQ of Nazi forces from Holland to Biarritz during WWII. Finally, the city is liberated in August 1944.


After the end of WWII , NATO makes the high command in Europe called SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) led by Eisenhower chose to be installed between the towns nearby of  Louveciennes and Marly-le-Roi. Living quarters for the military was built in Saint Germain en Laye on the location of the current village of Village d’Hennemont; where their children went to the school of SHAPE, today still going on as the Lycée international.

The king Louis XIV has renovated the castle especially the apartments by the Architect Louis le Vau and the gardens by André le Nôtre. Before Versailles, even thus later the king moves there. King Louis XV wanting a Church bigger than the current one there ordered the constrution with the first stone laid in 1766 of the Church of Saint Germain with the finished in 1827. The house of the education of the children of the legion d’honneur is done in 1811. The castle is totally renovated with a new look by orders of Napoléon III in 1863 as we see it today.  The museum of Antiquities , gallo and celtic arts is open to the public in 1867.

You should not missed the Theater Alexandre Dumas as it was the inspiration of Dumas father who eventually saw the light of the theater. And to let your imagination run wild , here is the Château Vieux (old castle) site now is the Archeology museum. And the Church of Saint Germain. And of course the market here at the place du marché Neuf is very good and with over 700 shops in city center you are in for a treat; I know used to come here very often, and always a pleasure.

st-germain-ch-st-germain-bell-tower dec17

The webpage for the theater Alexandre Dumas

The webpage for the archeological museum/castle

The webpage of the parish of St Germain on the church:

The markets of the city of Saint Germain en Laye/Marché Central:

The tourist office of St Germain en Laye and loop of the Seine river :

The city of Saint Germain en Laye and its heritage:

Enjoy Saint Germain en Laye, plenty to do and see here , and if questions for details let me know gladly will help out. It is not only royal but magical as well!!

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

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