C10 : Circuit – Park and town


1.START-OFFICE DE TOURISME,VILLA EUGÉNIE-DÉSOYER Villa Eugénie Désoyer, Jardin des Arts, 3 rue Henri IV


Mr. Léon Désoyer, entrepreneur, patron and mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the early 20th century, and his wife Eugénie, benefactor of the town, welcome you to their home bequeathed to the town in 1929.

Today, Villa Eugénie-Désoyer is home to the Saint Germain Boucles de Seine Intermunicipal Tourist Office and Café des Arts on the ground floor. On the first floor, the Royal Apothecary has a remarkable collection of objects from the old hospitals of the town. It can be seen during the opening hours of the building: take the stairs or lift to the 1st floor and press the switch to the right of the glass door.On the left, after the door, a second small glass room houses ancient objects for the preparation of remedies. Visit 1 Saturday per month, only by reservation. The apothecary is always visible from the outside during building opening hours.

2.Rue du Vieil Abreuvoir

At the street entrance there was a large watering pond but it was demolished in the 18th century to make way for the ‘coche », the public vehicle that was the ancestor of the“diligence » stagecoach.

No. 24: This mansion belonged to the Duc de la Feuillade. He was a great admirer of King Louis XIV, and erected a statue in his honour at Place des Victoires in Paris.

No. 23: Hôtel de la Marquise de Maintenon. Mistress and, later, the second wife of Louis XIV, she purchased this mansion in 1680. The impressive wrought iron balcony dates back to 1880.

No.22: Hôtel de Montausier. Mansion owned by the Duc de Montausier, governor to Louis XIV’s eldest son. The future Maréchal Lyautey also lived here, from 1887 to 1891. He was just a Captain at the time.

3.Rue des Coches

So named since 1700 because it was the departure point of the public « coche » (stagecoaches) travelling to neighbouring towns, including Paris and Versailles.

No. 17: Hôtel de Guise: this private mansion was owned by Henri Il de Lorraine, Duc de Guise and grandson of the “Balafré” (“slashed face”). Albert Alain, the famous organist from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, was also born here.

On the left, the «rue des Vieilles Boucheries» was, as the name suggests, where the meat market took place. A little further on, we find the «rue à la Farine», which was where the Grain and Flour Hall was created by Francois I.

4.Rue des Vieilles Boucheries

Thus named because the meat market was here in the Middle Ages. The street was closed by a gate at night to dissuade thieves.

5.Cour Larcher

Access to the courtyard is from Rue de Paris between nos.40 and 42.It’s a reference to Regnault Larcher, who was an archer for King Philippe Auguste and founded a “Maison Dieu » here. This little hospital sheltered the poor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, as well as pilgrims and travellers.

6. Allée des Récollets

A narrow passageway on the site of the ancient Recollects convent. The Recollects were part of the Franciscan order and were initially protected by Henri II and Catherine de Medici.

7.Rue Voltaire

Named in honour of the philosopher «des Lumières» who spent two months at Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1729. Nos. 2 to 6: Hôtel de Fieubet. Gaspard de Fieubet, advisor to King Louis XIV, acquired and embellished this mansion. It was reworked in the 19th century, unlike the one next to it (at no. 8) which has remained in the 18th century state.

8.Rue Saint-Pierre

No. 19: Hôtel de Folard, a 18th-century knight, soldier and military strategist. To the right of the door, a height marker decorated with the crown and royal cradle, indicates our altitude: 65.838 metres above the River Seine. At Place Saint-Pierre, the Colbert fountain originally faced the Château. It was restored, moved here and inaugurated in 1989

9.Rue Du Gast

So named since 1700 in reference to a family of public figures, one of whom was a notary under Henri IV, another was «garde manteau» or forestry officer, under Louis XIV. At no. 6, the façade features a little alcove which shelters a statue of Saint Christopher. Opposite, through the wrought iron railings you can see the gardens of the Hôtel de Créquy, to which the entrance is located on Rue de Paris between nos. 10 and 12.

10.Rue au Pain

So called since 1667, it has been long considered as the main street in the town. It takes its name from the bakers who set out their stalls there on market days. No. 38: the birthplace of the composer Claude Debussy, who was born there on 22 August 1862.

10.Rue au Pain

So called since 1667, it has been long considered as the main street in the town. It takes its name from the bakers who set out their stalls there on market days. No. 38: the birthplace of the composer Claude Debussy, who was born there on 22 August 1862.

11.Rue Collignon

The name of this street refers to Abbé Collignon, priest and benefactor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the 19th century. At No. 8 the public baths were built in 1913, they have since disappeared.

12.Rue des Louviers

There are several theories as to where the term « louviers » comes from. It may be a deformation ofthe word »louvetier » meaning the officer serving as the Royal Wolfcatcher. Or, it may be a reference to the cloth merchants who came from the town of Louviers in Normandy. No. 15:The Institut Saint-Thomas-de-Villeneuve, the town’s oldest school,is still in use. High on no. 34, an alcove shelters a statue of Saint Peter.

13.Rue des Ecuyers

So-named since 1618, probably in reference to the numerous knights who lived in Saint-Germain-en-Laye along with their horsemen.

14. Rue de la République

No. 11:The chapel of the Institut Saint-Thomas-de-Villeneuve, mentioned above (cf. Stage 12) features a peristyle built in 1788, with 4 lonic columns. Nos 24 and 26: Hôtel particulier of Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Longueville, whose second wife, Anne-Geneviève de Bourbon, sister of the Great Condé and the Prince of Conti, was renowned for her great beauty in the 17th century. The mansion was entirely reworked in the 19th century. No. 27: 18th century building that has remained intact since its construction. The small balconies are from the Louis XV period.

15.Rue de Pontoise

No. 16: Hôtel de Ville de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, established here in 1842 in the former Hôtel de la Rochefoucauld which dates from the 18th century.

16.Rue d’Alsace

No.11: Hôtel de Noailles: the sumptuous mansion of the three Dukes of Noailles, who were town governors until the French Revolution, was built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Mozart stayed here in 1778.

17.Place Charles de Gaulle

You are standing opposite:

· Old-Castle : Saint-Germain-en-Laye was the residence of numerous kings of France, including Saint Louis, Francois I and, of course, Louis XIV. Each left their mark and the castle’s architecture has evolved greatly over the centuries. Now, the National Archaeology Museum, the Old-Castle is home to an exceptional collection of archaeological objects from France and the four corners of the world. Near the castle you can see the gardens of the National Domain.

·Saint-Germain church, with its neo-classical style, was consecrated in 1827.Inside,you can admire the magnificent frescoes, created by Amaury Duval, a pupil of the painter Ingres, and the tomb of King James II of England (VII of Scotland), cousin of Louis XIV, who died in exile in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1701.

18.The Estate Grounds

Classified as an historic monument since 1964 and awarded the ‘remarkable garden’ label, the park has flowerbeds and beautiful perspectives.

Walk along the castle, towards the Terrace:next to a reproduction of Trajan’s Column, a plaquementions the famous duel that took place on 10 July1547 in front of the château between Monsieur deJarnac and Monsieur de la Châtaigneraie. From thisduel we get the expression «Coup de Jarnac».

The Terrace, André Le Nôtre’s masterpiece, is areal balcony over the Seine. Coming from a family ofthe king’s gardeners since the 16th century,Le Nôtrecreated the gardens of Vaux le Vicomte for Fouquetbefore going into the service of King Louis XIV. In the. distance, the business district of La Défense, the Eiffel Tower and the Montparnasse Tower, behind Mont Valérien, can be seen.

– Below, the vines planted in April 2000 have revived a viticultural tradition of more than thirteen centuries and the fruit is used to produce the «Vin des Grottes».

– From the Terrace, there are various access points to the Saint-Germain-en-Laye forest which covers 3540 hectares.

Pavillon Henri IV, hotel-restaurant, is located on the site of the New-Castle, where Louis XIV was born on 5 September 1638. The King’s Oratory, an integral part of this building, is one of the last remains.

Cross the garden of the Pavillon Henri IV to rue Thiers. At the top of the stairs you will see the plaque marking the level: you are at 61.055 metres above the zero level at the Bridge de la Tournelle.

Go down the stairs to discover the «Rampe des Grottes» (Cave ramp) : it takes its name from the magnificent caves, now gone, built at the end of the

16th century at the request of King Henri IV: inside there were automatons and all kinds of water games!