The other Saint-Germain

Once upon a time I walked around the Saint-Germain-dés-Pres quarter in the 6th arrondissement of Paris looking for a large royal palace. After not finding anything of the sort, I gradually started to suspect that Saint-Germain-dés-Pres and Saint-Germain-en-Laye might be two different places.


Indeed, these are two different places. Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a western suburb of Paris, located some 20 km from the city center. The only thing it has in common with Saint-Germain-dés-Pres is that they were both named after the same saint (as were a few other places like Saint-Germain-lès-Arpajon, Saint-Germain-sur-Morin and Saint-Germain-du-Bois.)

As I have already mentioned elsewhere, Saint Germain was born around the year 496 and was Bishop of Paris from 555 until his death in 576. According to a poet called Venantius Fortunatus, Germain performed numerous miracles during his lifetime and even before. While he was still in the womb, Germain performed a miracle by preventing his mother from aborting him. (I don’t know how the poet determined that it was the fetus which performed this miracle, and not some adult who talked her out of it.)

Interior façade of the palace at Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Unlike other former royal palaces, such as Versailles and Fontainebleau, the palace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye does not display any antique furniture such as might have been used by the kings and their families in earlier centuries. Rather, this palace is now used as an archeological museum which was founded by Emperor Napoléon III in the 1860s.

Lovers of antique furniture might be unhappy about this, but they should be aware that it was King Louis XIV himself who took all the furniture with him when he vacated the palace in 1682, thus making clear that he did not intend to return, ever, not even for a visit.

Presumably he made good use of this furniture in Versailles or in some of his other palaces, or perhaps he even gave some of the furniture to his second wife for the new North Wing that she was planning to add onto her château at Maintenon.

Location and aerial view of Saint-Germain-en-Laye on

My photos in this post are from 2015. I revised the text in 2019.

See more posts on Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.

5 thoughts on “The other Saint-Germain”

  1. We’ve been out there twice, once for the view of Paris in the distance and again to visit the National Archaeological Museum. There is also a small Claude Debussy Museum (free) in the Tourist Office. It’s upstairs and they will guide you in the right direction. The town itself is very pretty. Eglise Saint-Germain-en-Laye is also worth a visit if you have time. They have a Cliquot organ and some very nice frescoes. The best part of it all is the wonderful view of Paris from the Château Gardens.

  2. haha indeed they are.SGL love the market there and of course the museum in the castle; we went shopping often very nice town and a huge city center shopping area of more than 700 stores! Cheers

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