Castles in Saint-Germain-en-Laye
The “Château-Vieux” (the Old Castle)
The chateau was built at the request of François I (Francis) by Pierre Chambiges, who used the pentagon-shaped foundations of a fortified castle which was built in the XIV century by Charles V.
Chambiges incorporated the chapel commissioned by Saint Louis in 1238. François I and the successive kings stayed there frequently.
Louis XIV was born on September 5th, 1638, in the Château Neuf (New Castle) of which little remains, and set up his main residence in the existing chateau from 1666 to 1681. From that day on, Saint-Germain-en-Laye became the seat of the royal government. The overall layout of the town centre dates from that period.
Napoléon III had the Chateau Vieux restored by Eugène Millet, who demolished the pavilions which had been added by Louis XIV.
In 1867, the Emperor Napoleon created the Museum of Celtic and Gallo-Roman Antiquities, housed within the castle walls. The Museum of National Archeology still stands here.
« La Rampe des Grottes » (The Grottoes ramp)
Caves of Neptune, Water Organs or the Dragon… The latter was “brought to life by an enraged dragon that beat its wings while spewing torrents of water”. Imagine seven caves, elaborately decorated, in which water displays delighted the King and the royal court.
The “Rampe des Grottes” and the “Mur des Lions” (Wall of Lions) are the last evidence of the “Château-Neuf” and of the magnificent arrangements of the gardens located on the slope between the castle and the “Seine” (the river). These creations designed at the end of the 16th century under Henri IV were neglected by Louis XIV in favour of Versailles and fell into ruin. Today, this prestigious site needs considerable restoration.
The « Château d’Hennemont » (Hennemont’s Castle)
Built at the beginning of the 20th century by the Parisian Henri Edmond Canonne, the inventor of the Valda Lozenges, this castle has been replaced by a long series of buildings built on the site of Hennemont’s small priory, which was destroyed in 1346 by the Black Prince at the beginning of the Hundred Years’ War.
The “Château d’Hennemont” is made up of individual architectural elements, inspired by several castles, each with different styles, all housing the prestigious International Lycée.