Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a commune in the western suburbs of Paris in France. It is located 19.1 km (11.9 miles) from the center of Paris. Inhabitants are called Saint-Germanois. With its elegant tree-lined streets it is, with Garches-Vaucresson, the wealthiest suburb of Paris, combining both high-end leisure spots and ultra-residential neighborhoods (see the Golden Triangle of the Yvelines).
It is a sous-préfecture of the Yvelines département, being the seat of the Arrondissement of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Because it includes the National Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, it covers approximately 48 km², making it the largest commune in Yvelines. It occupies a large loop of the Seine. Saint-Germain-en-Laye lies at one of western terminus of the line A of the RER.
Prior to the French Revolution in 1789, it had been a royal town and the Château de Saint-Germain the residence of numerous French monarchs.
The old château was constructed in 1348 by King Charles V on the foundations of an old castle (château-fort) dating from 1238 in the time of Saint Louis. François I was responsible for its subsequent restoration. In 1862, Napoleon III set up the Musée des Antiquités Nationales in the estwhile royal château. This museum has exhibits ranging from Paleolithic to Celtic times. The "Dame de Brassempouy" sculpted on a mammoth's ivory tusk around 23,000 years ago is the most famous exhibit in the museum.
Louis XIV was born in the château (the city's coat of arms consequently shows a cradle and the date of his birth), and established Saint-Germain-en-Laye as his principal residence from 1661 to 1681. Louis XIV turned over the château to King James II after his exile from Britain after the Glorious Revolution in 1688. King James lived in the Château for 13 years, and his daughter Louisa Maria Stuart was born in exile here in 1692. King James Stuart is buried in the Church of Saint-Germain.
Saint-Germain-en-Laye is famous for its 2.4 kilometre long stone terrace built by André Le Nôtre from 1669 to 1673. The terrace provides a view over the valley of the Seine and, in the distance, Paris.
During the French Revolution, the name was changed along with many other places whose names held connotations of religion or royalty. Saint-Germain-en-Laye became Montagne-du-Bon-Air.
In the 19th century, Napoleon I established his cavalry officers training school in the Château-Vieux.
During the occupation from 1940 to 1944, the town was the German Army Headquarters.
Finally, Saint-Germain-en-Laye is also served by Achères – Grand Cormier station on Paris RER line A and on the Transilien Paris – Saint-Lazare suburban rail line. This station is located in the middle of the Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, far away from the urbanized part of the commune.
Saint-Germain-en-Laye was the birthplace of:
Saint-Germain-en-Laye is twinned with: