Saint-Germain-en-Laye Things to Do

  • The gardens
    The gardens
    by Beausoleil
  • The Seine with Paris in the distance
    The Seine with Paris in the distance
    by Beausoleil
  • Find Debussy's frog, Arkel
    Find Debussy's frog, Arkel
    by Beausoleil

Most Recent Things to Do in Saint-Germain-en-Laye

  • gwened's Profile Photo

    Birthplace of king Louis XIV

    by gwened Updated Aug 18, 2014

    Saint Germain en Laye is his birthplace and he lived here as king for many years before moving on to the other castle.... There is now a gastronomic restaurant but the original building part whre the king was born rest intact.

    I give you a bit of history I like and encourage to stop by behind the château.
    Louis XIV, King of France, was born at Saint Germain-en-Laye on the 5th of September 1638. His father Louis XIII, had married Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III king of Spain, in 1615. The death of his father made Louis XIV king on the 14th of May 1643, but he had to wait sixteen years before he began to rule. Power lay for some time in the hands of the queen-mother and in those of her minister, Cardinal Mazarin who found it difficult to maintain the power of the throne and the integrity of French territory during the domestic trouble of the Fronde and the last stages of the Thirty Years' War.

    The king had many relationships outside his marriage not unusual for the times. Madame de Montespan, held her position from 1670 to 1679 and then gave place to the still more famous Madame de Maintenon, who ruled, however, not as mistress but as wife. The events that brought about this incident form the strangest episode in the king's private life. Queen Maria Theresa died in 1683, Madame de Maintenon shortly afterwards (in 1684) became the king's wife, though this was never officially declared.

    The condition of France at this period was terrible. She was burdened with debt. His numerous descendants seemed at one time to place the succession beyond all difficulty. But his eldest son, the dauphin, died in April 1711; his eldest grandson the duke of Burgundy in February 1712; and his great-grandson the duke of Brittany in March 1712. The heir to the throne was now the duke of Burgundy's son, the duke of Anjou, afterwards Louis XV. The king died on the 1st of September 1715, after the longest recorded reign in European history. The judgment of posterity has not repeated the flattering verdict of his contemporaries; but he remains the model of a great king in all that concerns the externals of kingship.

    Father: Louis XIII (King of France)
    Mother: Anne of Austria
    Wife: Marie Thérèse (d. 1683)
    Son: Louis, Dauphin de Viennois (b. 1661, d. 1711)
    Mistress: Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart, Marquise of Montespan
    Wife: Françoise d'Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon (Protestant, m. 1685)

    you can read more from the site I took the above information
    http://www.nndb.com/people/397/000086139/
    and this one
    http://www.louis-xiv.de/index.php?id=31

    the arch on the gate tells you he was born here the part of his birth is the right red building
    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Always take a walk

    by Beausoleil Updated Jul 30, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We love to walk so when we first arrive at a new place, we walk all over to see what there is to see. You are close to the people, the buildings and the landscape so get a nice feeling for the place.

    St. Germain-en-Laye has the unhurried feel of a much smaller village and was a welcome respite from Paris. We stopped for a coffee and then wandered the town. The tourist office has free maps with the town center on one side and a larger area around the town center on the back. There is also tourist information for the town on the map so it's a good thing to get before you get too far off the beaten track.

    Behind Eglise St. Germain Local cheese shop Obviously an opera lover . . . Pavillon Henri IV Restaurant Eglise St. Germain from the back of the chateau
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Museum Visits
    • Castles and Palaces

    Was this review helpful?

  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Visit the Claude Debussy Museum

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 27, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We were reading about St. Germain-en-Laye and discovered there was a small museum dedicated to the composer Claude Debussy located inside the tourist office. We are both musicians so we made a beeline for the tourist office . . . only to discover they were closing for lunch. It is France!

    We got a lunch recommendation, enjoyed lunch and returned to the museum. Good plan. The museum is small but free. You need a ticket but all you do is ask and they give it to you and direct you upstairs to the museum.

    The actual house dates to 1680 and Claude Debussy was born there in 1862. The courtyard is lovely and you go up the stairs to the museum on the next floor. There are some musical scores, articles that Debussy enjoyed and that give a feeling for the period. There is also a portrait of the composer by Blanche.

    Opening times are Tues.-Sat. 14:00-18:00
    October to April 14:00-17:30
    Closed Mondays and for all Bank Holidays
    No entrance fee

    Portrait by Jacques-Emile Blanche Find Debussy's frog, Arkel When you hear Room in the museum
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Visit the Chateau Gardens & view of Paris

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 27, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I must admit the main reason we made the trip to St. Germain-en-Laye was to see the Gardens and the views of Paris from the viewing table. When you take the train to St. Germain, you cross the Seine twice because there is a very tight curve of the river creating a peninsula. From the Garden viewing platform, you are looking across this expanse so you have the river directly below and then you can't see the other bend but you see Paris tantalizingly in the distance.

    If you have binoculars, take them or you'll go crazy trying to figure out what you are seeing. It's great fun if you have a clear day. If the day isn't so clear, just walk through and enjoy the gardens which are beautiful in their own right. They were redesigned by LeNotre, the famous French gardener who did the gardens at Versailles. I'm not sure how much of LeNotre's work is left and the gardens do not rival Versailles but they are lovely and filled with townspeople enjoying them.

    The viewing platform The gardens The Seine with Paris in the distance Paris from the Gardens Telephoto. See the Grande Arche de la Defense?
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces

    Was this review helpful?

  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Visit the Chateau

    by Beausoleil Written Jul 27, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The chateau houses the National Museum of Archeology so has over 30,000 artefacts on display dating from the beginning of man in France up to the Middle Ages. If you are a history fan or a Middle Ages fan, this is a must-see.

    According to their brochures, the museum houses the largest collection of prehistoric art in the world. If it isn't the largest, it certainly is one of the largest and if you are fascinated by prehistoric art, it's a great museum. They also host visiting exhibits that are of interest.

    It is closed on Tuesdays and you should check the web site for prices and hours.

    Chateau from the RER station Chateau from the garden The chapel at the back
    Related to:
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces

    Was this review helpful?

  • gwened's Profile Photo

    church Saint Germain

    by gwened Updated Jun 14, 2014

    great church gorgeous inside, built in 1824. The fourth built on the spot from the first done by Mansart in 1683. the tomb of king James II of England is inside he lived in town for 13 years daughter Louise Maria Stuart was born here. just across from castle museum.

    It has a wonderful organ ordered by king Louis XIV to Alexandre Thierry in 1698, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll rebuilt it keeping a great part of the original.

    Inside you have wonderful items to see such as
    The descent from the cross (1178), by Benedetto Antelami, identical to the one kept in the Cathedral of Parma. It was given to the Church by a family of the city in 1994. there is research going on to know if original or copy done by the artist.
    Our Lady of good return(Notre Dame de Retour) , beautiful Virgin and child from the 14C, discovered in the 19C during the construction of the Church.
    Beautiful Christ on the cross by the 17C, of baroque style, unknown origin.
    Baroque pulpit given by king Louis XIV and which graced the 3rd Chapel of the Château de Versailles, abandoned in 1710 to make place to the current Chapel of Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte.
    Big picture of Charles-Joseph Natoire, the baptism of Christ (1750), painted for the chapel of the castle of D'arnouville Machaud, Minister of king Louis XV. Very close to a first completed version in 1747 (Museum of Arras). This table is the last work painted in France by Natoire, then at the height of his fame, before his definitive departure for Rome.
    The descent from the cross (1913), by Honoré Icard
    The mausoleum of the King of England, Jacques II (Stuart), exiled in France and welcomed by his cousin Louis XIV. He lived and died at the Château de Saint-Germain, where had lived Louis XIV a few decades previously.

    this is the site of the parrish Church in French
    http://paroisses-stgermainenlaye.net/

    A must to see in SGL!

    front of church St Germain on busy day back of church St Germain tomb of James II inside Church Saint Germain the coupola of the church of St Germain Grand Organ of the Chursh of St Germain
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • gwened's Profile Photo

    Chateau museum of Saint-Germain-en-Laye

    by gwened Updated Nov 3, 2013

    a great historical castle back is the place of birth of Louis XIV, and now it is a superb antiquities museum of artifacts from the region of ile de France,and elsewhre in France. And just walks away from city center Saint Germain en Laye with its 700 stores of delights,and plenty of eateries, direct connection to paris on the RER A train.

    the market is second only to my Notre Dame at Versailles, but its great, and cheese shop here is my family's favorite.
    If you need details of a visit let me know. this is another webpage from the national monuments of France,
    http://www.rmn.fr/english/les-musees-et-leurs-expositions-238/national-archaeology-museum-270/

    The importance historically is the castle for what happened there (birthplace of Louis XIV) however, today it is the museum that is of high renown, and Worth your detour from Paris via RER A here, easy.

    A bit of history on the museum part.
    Napoleon III, by a decree of March 8, 1862, decides the "creation at the castle of Saint Germain en Laye, Celtic and Gallo-Roman Antiquities Museum. The destination of the Museum will be specified in a report of June 14, 1863. It was «to gather supporting documentation, so to speak, of our national history...». On April 1, 1865, the first meeting (on eight) of the Organization of the Museum Commission meets under the chairmanship of the count de Nieuwerkerke, Superintendent of fine arts (somehow our Minister of Culture). This Commission brings together big names of archaeology as Alexandre Bertrand, Édouard Lartet, Félix de Saulcy, and Jacques Boucher de Perthes; The final draft will be the work of Auguste Verchère de Reffye, Alexandre Bertrand and Claude Rossignol. The first Director of the Museum is Alexandre Bertrand. It will adopt the aging objects while hitherto prevailed the classification by subject. The Museum of national antiquities is therefore the first (and still today, the only) Museum devoted entirely to the archaeology of the national territory. This is what distinguishes also the archaeological departments of the Louvre that develop at the same time.

    The history of the Museum of national antiquities is inseparable from that of the development of French and European archaeology. Among the first collections to be entered are those of Jacques Boucher de Perthes of Abbeville (Somme) which revealed, at the end of the 20th century, the existence of a prehistoric humanity far previous to the Gauls.

    The rise of French prehistory was subsequently know an extraordinary expansion, through the work of Gabriel de Mortillet, inventor of the current prehistoric chronology, which brought very many archaeological reference series at the Museum. It must also at Edouard Piette most parts of palaeolithic art preserved in the Museum, in the provision which was intended at the beginning of the 20th century.

    Gallic archaeology was literally born with Félix de Saulcy, Alexandre Bertrand and Jacques-Gabriel Bulliot searches on the premises of the Gallic wars, in particular at Alesia and Bibracte. In between the two world wars, is Henri Hubert who was designing an overhaul of the Museum's collections, adding a full comparative archaeology section, including appealing to the discoveries of the far East.

    The major archaeologists of the 20th century contributed to the enrichment and the study of the collections, as especially the Abbé Breuil, Louis Capitan, Henri and Jacques de Morgan, father Cochet, Joseph Déchelette, and many others still.
    Today the collections Evolved with new ones and adding new discoveries, its a mine field for those interested in history like me ::)

    from across street to castle museum walk over to Chateau museum back side of Castle on Rue Thiers side going into city center, rue thiers night shot side castle see Chapel of St Louis righ
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Museum Visits
    • Castles and Palaces

    Was this review helpful?

  • gwened's Profile Photo

    maison Maurice Denis

    by gwened Written Oct 4, 2013

    one of the highlights of visiting this royal town not far from Paris and easy connection on trains and RER A.

    The house of Maurice Denis is close on the chapel but the street level and first floor are open to the public until further order as per site. Otherwise open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10h to 17h30 and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10H to 18h30.Admission is 4,50€ adults

    The initial Fund of the Museum is an exceptional donation made in 1976 by the family of Maurice Denis. Since then, the collections have been enriched by many donations and acquisitions of works by Symbolist and nabis artists. Are thus presented works of painters that have marked the history of modern art: Gauguin, Serusier, Filiger, Vallotton, Bonnard, Vuillard, Verkade, Ranson, Lacombe, Redon, Mucha, Anquetin...Composed largely of paintings, the collections also include graphic works, sculptures and pieces of furniture and art objects: fans, screens, stained glass... All these elements to seize the nabis artists desire to integrate art into daily life. Diverse aspects, the collection of the Musée Maurice Denis is fundamentally homogeneous in his mind and reflects the belief of these artists in the profound unity of the different forms of art.

    Who was Maurice Denis, in bref
    Maurice Denis lives and works for nearly all his life at Saint Germain en Laye, while making frequent stays in Britain and Italy. From his youth and studied art at the Académie Julian, he made the acquaintance of Paul Sérusier who is like him looking for new aesthetic solutions. After the painting lesson given by Paul Gauguin to Sérusier in 1888 in Pont-Aven, the Nabis group is formed and is part of Maurice Denis. Nicknamed "Nabi to the beautiful icons", he is also the theoretician of the group.First synthetic and symbolic, a near time of Art nouveau, his painting is then moving towards a renewed classicism. Intimate and family scenes the religious themes, the landscapes of Italy and Britain are very present in his work. Besides easel paintings, Maurice Denis performs in France and abroad of large secular decorations (salon music of Ivan Morosov in Moscow, cupola of the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris...) and religious (churches Sainte - Marguerite de le Vésinet, Geneva Paul, Saint-Louis de Vincennes...). In 1919, he founded with Georges Desvallières les Ateliers d'Art Sacré, in a perspective of renewal of Christian art. Researcher and tireless worker, he left at his death a considerable work.

    nice, worth seeing.

    the patio of maison Maurice Denis chapel inside Maurice Denis museum
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    PARISH CHURCH

    by balhannah Updated Aug 22, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Opposite the Chateau we noticed a rather lovely Parish Church. This Church turned out to be quite interesting.

    Why?
    This Church was commissioned by Louis XIV in 1683, and was built with its back to the castle. In 1765, Louis XV decided the Church had to be rebuilt because of this. In 1824 during the digging of the new foundations three small lead boxes were discovered.

    I quote " The first of these had upon it an inscription identifying the contents as the praecordia of King James II and VII. The second and third boxes are presumed to contain second and third boxes are presumed to contain the praecordia of his wife Queen Mary Beatrice and of their daughter Princess Louise."

    In 1824,the remains of King James, his wife, and daughter were re-interred and the White Marble monument can be seen on the right as you enter the Church.

    One of the inscription's reads..............
    "To royal remains, royal piety.
    Whoever you are who look upon this funerary monument
    think upon the changes of human fortune.
    Great in prosperity, greater in adversity,
    James II, King of England
    loosened the signs of hardship and sad destiny
    by a pious and quiet death
    in this city
    September 16, 1701.
    Some of the more noble parts of his body
    are here preserved hidden."

    Parish Church
    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Photography

    Was this review helpful?

  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    SAINT LOUIS - ST. GERMAIN EN LAYE CHATEAU

    by balhannah Updated Aug 22, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Another part of the Museum we were able to visit was Saint Louis Chapel.

    The chapel of St. Louis is Gothic and part of the old castle.
    This Chapel once housed many important pieces including the Holy Crown, the True Cross fragment, relics of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Lance, the Holy Sponge and the Mandylion.

    During the different "ages," treasures were melted down and valuable stones sold. Then, in another age, there was a ban on conserving relics and all other sacred symbols with links to the kings. Luckily, some were saved and are now in the Cathedral treasury of Notre Dame.

    Built in 1245, it is thought to be one of the earliest "High Gothic" buildings in this area. It had a large number of windows making it very light, and outside there were some tombs. It was in very good condition for being such an old building, and I couldn't help thinking of all those Kings and important people who had been to Church here all those years ago.

    Saint Louis Inside St. Louis Inside St.Louis Large plain windows inside the Chapel Tombs at the Chapel
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    MUSEUM OF NATIONAL ANTIQUITIES

    by balhannah Updated Aug 22, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    It was in 1862, that Napoleon III decided that Chateau Germain en Laye would become an Antiquities Museum.
    As we were there, we decided to go inside the Chateau and visit the Archeological Museum. The Museum had an excellent display of approx 30,000 pieces making it one of the biggest in Europe.
    There were pieces on display from Paleolithic times [8000BC], Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Gaul and the Middle Ages.
    It was amazing to see these old pieces, many still in very good condition.
    If you are interested in Archeology, then this Museum would be of interest to you.
    More information is on their website.

    Open Monday to Friday
    9 - 12.30pm & 1.30 - 5pm.
    ADMISSION IN 2011.....6 euros

    Pieces in the Museum In the Museum In the Museum In the Museum IN the Museum
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    CHATEAU SAINT-GERMAIN EN LAYE & GARDENS

    by balhannah Updated Aug 21, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Chateau de Saint-Germain Castle is an imposing sight in the Town with the same name.

    There is quite a history to this Chateau.

    In the beginning, an old fort that dated from around the year 1238 stood in this location, then King Charles V constructed the old chateau in 1348 on the original foundations. This Castle was demolished and rebuilt by Francois I, only leaving the Saint-Chapelle and the keep of the old castle. By the 18th century, this had also fallen into disrepair. Napoleon III had the chapel and chateau restored between the years of 1862 and 1867 and also set up a museum called the Musee des Antiquites Nationales.

    Two Kings, King Henry II and King Louis XIV were born in the Chateau de Saint-Germain.

    The gardens are very nice, and no wonder why, they were designed by the same person who designed Chateau Versailles and Chateau Chantilly. They disappear down to the River Seine, with distant views of Paris. These gardens, were some of the first Italian style gardens in France, later, the French formal garden originated.

    The Chateau de Saint-Germain was constructed before the Chateau de Versailles and was one of the main residences of the French Court before they moved to Versailles Castle.
    We walked around the outside of nearly all of the Chateau. It does have a moat, but instead of water, it is nicely mown grass.

    Since 1862, it has been a Museum.

    The gardens are FREE to wander around

    St. Germain En Laye Chateau St. Germain En Laye Chateau Front of St. Germain En Laye Chateau Garden @ St. Germain En Laye Chateau Inside courtyard at the Chateau
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • hquittner's Profile Photo

    The Church Is Across from the Chateau and the RER

    by hquittner Written Feb 10, 2010

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Church of Saint-Louis-Saint-Germain was built in the period around 1800. It was built near the Chateau and the RER, next to what is now the Place Ch. de Gaulle. This is also next to what in 1834 was the first railroad in France which ran between Paris and St. Germain en Laye.

    The Eglise Near the RER.
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Seniors

    Was this review helpful?

  • hquittner's Profile Photo

    Visit the Museum

    by hquittner Written Feb 8, 2010

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Vieux Chateau was rebuilt in 1540 and today is the National Antiquities Museum with a large part of the beautiful Gardens still in use. The museum begins with paleolithic objects of great interest and ends on the upper level in the Merovingian period. It contains every early civilizations and has most interesting collections related to the other western groups besides Greek and Roman, especially the Gauls and pre-dynastic Egypt.

    West Side Chateau & Entry to Museum Ancient Goddess Ancient Jewelry Ancient Armor Armor
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Seniors

    Was this review helpful?

  • siwi's Profile Photo

    Maurice Denis Museum

    by siwi Updated Feb 11, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Maurice Denis is a French Nabi Painter (1870-1943). Les Nabis were a Parisian group of Post-Impressionist artists and illustrators who became very influential in the field of graphic art.
    Their emphasis on design was shared by the parallel Art Nouveau movement. Both groups also had close ties to the Symbolists.

    The museum is set up in the old hospital built in 1678 under the patronage of Madame de Montespan; it later became the house of the painter Maurice Denis. The collection, inspired by the personality of Maurice Denis, displays post-impressionist paintings.

    The artist’s heirs gave much of his oeuvre to the Maurice Denis Museum in St. Germain En Laye's museum near Paris.

    Plage au bonnet rouge, Maurice Denis, 1909

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

42 travelers online now

Comments

Saint-Germain-en-Laye Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Saint-Germain-en-Laye things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Saint-Germain-en-Laye sightseeing.

View all Saint-Germain-en-Laye hotels