St. Germain en Laye: Paris’s Royal Suburb

Saint Germain en Laye is an elegant, royal town located just a short drive (or RER line #1 trip) from Paris; a perfect spot for a day trip from Paris or for a quick overnight visit. Founded in 1020, Saint Germain en Laye is the birthplace of Louis XIV. The city features a vital, historic town center with 26 protected, expansive acres including many early 19th century arcaded houses. It is a lively market town with many boutiques and cafes throughout its many pedestrian areas.

La ville de St Germain en Laye-Yvelines

The roofs of St Germain en Laye Photo : Eric Sander (


Magnificent Chateau de St Germain, set amidst green and flower-filled acres, has been residence to many French kings who have each modified the original structure since its medieval debut. At the request of Louis XIV, Le Notre, famed garden architect, designed the chateau’s beautiful terraces to enhance the stunning panoramic view over the Paris plain. Among the notable visitors to the chateau was James II of England who stayed for thirteen years as the house-guest of Louis XIV.

La Place du Marche in Ste. Germain en Laye

La Place du Marche in Ste. Germain en Laye, a place to relax after sightseeing

Napoleon I established his cavalry officers training school in the Chateau-Vieux. In 1867, Emperor Napoleon III created the Musée des Antiquités Nationales within the chateau, which today boasts a fine archeological collection, including Bronze Age weaponry and jewelry, and a Gallo-Roman mosaic pavement. More recently, Saint Germain en Laye was the German Army Headquarters during the occupation from 1940 to 1944. As a consequence, the city became an active center of the French Resistance.

What to See in Saint Germain en Laye

Chateau de Saint-Germain

The Castle of Saint Germain en Laye

The Castle of Saint Germain en Laye Photo : Eric Sander (

This royal residence is clearly the the main attraction in St-Germain-en-Laye. The chateau was built by Louis VI in 1124, then rebuilt by Francois I and restored under Napoleon III. Today the chateau is the site of the National Antiquities Museum which contains artifacts from the Prehistoric Era to the Middle Ages.
Place du Chateau
78103 Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Open: Wed to Mon 9:45am – noon and 1:30 – 5:15pm

La Terrasse de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Alfred Sisley: The Terrace at Saint-Germain in Spring

Painting by Alfred Sisley: The Terrace at Saint-Germain in Spring

Overlooking the River Seine, the terrace offers a lovely view, including the Henri IV pavilion where Louis XIV was born.
Parc du Chateau de St-Germain-en-Laye
78100 St-Germain-en-Laye
Open: 8am – 9:30pm

Jardin Anglais
This lovely park is filled with greenery and plenty of tree-lined paths for all to enjoy. It is situated behind the chateau near the Saint-Germain Forest.
Allee Louis XIV

Musee des Antiquities Nationales (Museum of National Antiquities)

Gallo Roman artifacts

Gallo Roman artifacts in the Musee des Antiquities Nationales

Built by Napoleon III, this museum offers exhibits and artifacts from Prehistoric, Celtic, Gallo-Roman, and Merovingian eras. The exhibits include Celtic Antreville helmets and jewelry, a megalithic tomb, and a mosaic from St-Romain, among other attractions.

Musee Claude Debussy
This museum is dedicated to the memory of the famous French composer, Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918), who was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. His piano and orchestral works influenced many classical and jazz composers of the 20th century. During certain times of the year, the museum hosts conferences as well as musical performances.
Yvelines, Seine et Marne
38 rue au Pain

Saint-Germain Forest

The Saint Germain Forest

The Saint Germain Forest provides many acres of hiking trails

Although its divided by major roads, this 1600 sq km forest provides ample grounds for hiking and biking along the Seine. It is located only 3km north of the chateau and provides a great way to enjoy the outdoors.
North on Ave de Loges

Best Hotel Choices in Saint Germain en Laye

Hotel Cazaudehore Le Forestiere 4-Stars

Hotel Cazaudehore Le Forestiere

Hotel Cazaudehore Le Forestiere

25 rooms, 5 suites ****
Sophistication in a secluded woodland setting, with golf nearby. La Forestière welcomes you to its exquisitely comfortable guestrooms, innovative cuisine, and an exceptional wine cellar, all within St Germaine en Laye’s rustic beauty.
1 av du President Kennedy
78100 St Germain en Laye
Average Price for a double room: 200 Euros

Pavillon Henri IV 4-Stars
42 rooms
Once the residence of Louis XIV, this elegant hotel offers refined and gracious service.
21 rue Thiers
78100 St Germain en Laye
Average Price for a double room: 200 Euros

Ermitage des Loges 3-Stars
56 rooms, 3 apartments
Bordering the Saint Germain en Laye forest, near Versailles hotels, discover this charming site with its modern rooms overlooking landscaped gardens or the leafy Avenue des Loges.
11 avenue des Loges
78100 St Germain en Laye
Average Price for double room: 125 euros

Best Restaurant Choices in St. Germain en Laye

Cazaudehore “La Forestiere” $$$

Restaurant at the Hotel Cazaudehore Le Forestiere

Restaurant at the Hotel Cazaudehore Le Forestiere

Located in the La Forestiere Hotel, this restaurant is just as elegant as the hotel. The restaurant offers Southwest French cuisine, a superb wine list, and out-door dining on a terrace overlooking beautiful gardens.
1 av du President Kennedy
78100 St-Germain-en-Laye

La Petite Théière $
This charming little Salon de The restaurant right in the heart of Saint Germain en Laye also offers great lunches and brunch.
1, place André Malraux

Written by Terri Fogarty for

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