A royal residence
Royal residence since Louis VI the Fat, in the 12th century, Saint-Germain-en-Laye was both a place of pleasure and a place of power for the kings of France.
Many royal edicts or treaties were signed in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, until the treaty of 1919 which officially put an end to the war with Austria.
Saint Louis often resided here and bequeathed us the gothic chapel. François I built a Renaissance palace on the foundations of Charles V's old castle. Henri II and Henri IV built a second building next to it, called the Château-Neuf, which was located on the site of the current Henri IV Pavilion.
The Sun King was born in Saint-Germain in 1638 and spent most of the first years of his personal reign there, from 1666 onwards, before moving to Versailles in 1682.
Even an exiled king of England lived there with his entire court! Louis XIV lent the Château-Vieux (the one owned by François I) to Jaques II Stuart at the end of the 17th century.
Then, neglected, the royal residence went through dark years: the Château-Neuf was razed, the Château-Vieux became a military penitentiary.
In a sorry state and promised to be destroyed, it was saved thanks to the creation, by Napoleon III, of a museum of archaeology.
Discover the story of museum