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Saint-Germain-en-Laye Day Trip from Paris

Explore an Elegant, Historical Town Just Outside of Paris
Chateau du Saint-Germain-en-Laye day trip from Paris
Renata Haidle
Last updated April 21, 2024
Take a short trip from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye where you can admire impressive architecture, shop at a street market or in elegant boutiques, and even see a château. Read on for the best things to see and do in in the city.

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Love Paris but also love getting out of the city for a few hours? Let me take you on a day trip to the lovely city of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. A quick 30-minute ride on the RER A will take you from the Châtelet station into the countryside, to this laid-back town that’s rich both in charm and historic heritage. 

Saint-Germain-en-Laye has been around since the early Middle Ages and later developed around its famous château, initially built by Louis VI and expanded by Louis IX.

Discover more of Our Favorite Day Trips from Paris.

A regular residence of French kings for centuries, the castle witnessed several royal births—Henri II, Charles IX, and Louis XIV were all born between its walls. King James II of England spent his last years here as well, in voluntary exile after being deposed by the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Chateau du Saint-Germain-en-Laye day trip from Paris

I highly recommend a visit to the château for a quick immersion in French history and some great views from the rooftop. 

While you’re there, don’t miss the beautiful Gothic chapel, which was commissioned by the pious King Louis IX (also known as Saint Louis). It bears a striking resemblance to the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, having been designed by the same architect, a certain monsieur named Pierre de Montreuil whose other claim to fame was completing the south transept of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Pavillon Henri IV in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Photo by Renata Haidle

The surrounding park and gardens are open to the public and free to visit. They were redesigned by André Le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s chief landscape architect and mastermind of the ever-so-amazing Versailles gardens. Although on a smaller scale, the Saint-Germain-en-Laye gardens are equally representative of his unmistakable style, which came to be known as jardins à la française, or French-style gardens.

Straight lines and symmetry, large flower beds, carefully manicured shrubbery, parallel rows of trees that disappear into the horizon, and a grand terrace overlooking the Seine and Paris in the distance.

Exploring Saint-Germain-en-Laye is the perfect day trip from Paris.

Steps away from the castle, the charming town will beckon you in with its elegant architecture and quiet streets, a miniature Paris without the crowds. On market days, its center gets busy, warm, and convivial.

Make sure you schedule your trip on a Tuesday, Friday, or Sunday for a chance to experience the market.

Wrap up your visit with a stop at the Pavillon Henri IV restaurant for a decadent meal fit for a king, and enjoy equally regal views over Paris from their panoramic terrace. And while you’re there, maybe spare a thought for the Sun King and the brilliant M. Le Nôtre whose creativity we’re still enjoying to this day.


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