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Saint-Germain-en Laye

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Saint-Germain-en Laye

Will be in Paris mid March and want to take a day trip to Saint-Germain-en Laye. 1. Has anyone gone and was it worthwhile? 2. What is the best way to go?


Mike, Philadelphia

Adrian, Michigan
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1. Re: Saint-Germain-en Laye

I love this place and make a pilgrimage there just about every time I go. The views are amazing. I posted this message on my BLOG last summer:

St. Germaine-en-Laye is the birthplace of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and an exquisite example of 12th and 15th Century architecture. The chateau now houses the Musée des Antiquités Nationales, (http://www.musee-antiquitesnationales.fr/) and although you won't find the rooms decorated as they were in the days of French royalty, you will still get an idea of the chateau as a residence. The entry fee for the museum is currently €4, and they often have temporary exhibits that you will be able to see with your museum entry fee. Louis XIV lived in this chateau for much of his young life, having fled from the Louvre during the Fronde. It bore both fond and bittersweet memories for him. In later years, he swore off visiting the place because from the balcony of his corner bedroom, he could see the towers of the Basilique de St. Denis, where he knew he would someday be laid to rest. The vision was too painful he said, and so he never returned. Here, you too can see the extraordinary view the Kings once cherished. Although the Parisian skyline is vastly different, and today's smog ridden air makes a clear view difficult, you can still make out some of the cities more prominent landmarks from the edge of the gardens, including the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré Coeur. Alas, St. Denis is no longer in view, but you'll still be able to get a sense for what the Sun King felt.

After spending your morning in the museum, we recommend lunch. If the weather is warm and dry, you may choose to purchase a sandwich from the vendor on the grounds. Enjoying your lunch in the outdoors in this most exquisite garden is a real treat. You may, however, choose to dine at the Pavillon Henri IV, 21, rue Thiers, (http://www.pavillonhenri4.fr/index-gb.htm) on the chateau grounds. Their menus begin at €60 and go up to €90. It's not cheap, but the view is unparalleled. After lunch, prepare to spend a few hours in the chateau's gardens. Designed by Andre le Notre, one of France's most famed garden designers (Versailles, Tuilleries, Vaux le Vicompte), it is a stunning example of his divine gift.

Getting there. RER A goes directly to the city of St. Germaine-en-Laye, and can be accessed from the Paris Metro. Buy a round trip ticket. When you exit the RER platform at St. Germain-en-Laye, use the exit marked for the Chateau, and you will find yourself directly in front of the gardens, with just a short walk to the entrance. If you goof and take the wrong exit, don't worry, you'll just be across the street.

Note: The museum is closed on Tuesdays.

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2. Re: Saint-Germain-en Laye

Frankly i love art, history and i like it for the park, but as for the palace you need to like the prehistory as none of the rooms are decorated, you just have old display windows with prehistoric tools, a few golden things from the Gauls