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  • Writer's pictureJuliana Pinté

Things to do in Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

We visited our friends Regis and Marie, owners of the famous B&B in Saint-Germain-en-Laye that gives an incredible taste of French village life. But for all its seclusion and idyllic countryside backdrop, it also provides you so many cultural opportunities.

In fact, visitors can’t believe how much there is to see and do in this quaint town.

Less than 20 kilometers away from the center of Paris, the commune is conveniently located for anyone wanting to visit the City of Lights and everything it has waiting for you to explore. But because it is secluded, Saint-Germain-en-Laye also has quieter, more rustic experiences, too. This is the perfect balance, allowing you to see the many faces of France.

When you look through all the adventures available right outside the door of our Saint-Germain-en-Laye bed and breakfast, you’ll want to book a room for your next French get away.

So let’s explore some of what awaits you when you stay in one of our suites.

Marly Forest

Laying between Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Versailles is a large wooded area known as the Forêt de Marly (or Marley Forest). It is here that French kings took their entourage to enjoy hunting trips in Versailles.

The forest still retains its charm and quiet dignity. Though it once spread out over the entire area, it is still large enough to be absorbed in. It also leads you off to multiple historic sites and bucolic vistas.

The Forêt de Marly frames the Loft Trotters B&B, allowing you easy access to your next journey in the woods. But here, there are also many curated experiences to inform your curiosity and awaken your imagination for the time of a France gone by.

Domaine Royal de Marly Museum

This museum is housed in Louis XIV’s residence. This was the place off to the side of Versailles in order for the monarch to conduct the most confidential of business — and escape the work of the king altogether.

Originally a hunting lodge, it was remade for one of the most important rulers in French history. For that reason, this residence is a wonder of design and construction. As with many museums in the country, the building itself is the most important piece in the collection. One can spend hours appreciating it, but the things held inside are extremely fascinating in their own right.

It is here that you can see the interior decoration and furnishings of the French monarchy. You can also appreciate educational models that show the full splendor of this royal domain.

The gardens just outside are themselves a marvel of engineering. This water palace was fed by a mechanism called the Marly Machine. You can take a tour of the museum that goes into how this device worked to bring water two kilometers from the Seine to the fountains outside Louis XIV’s chambers and beyond to the grounds of Versailles.

But though the museum takes you back in time, it also brings you a taste of the future. They have a virtual reality experience available, where you can witness the solar eclipse on May 6, 1715, which Louis XIV saw from his place in Marly.

Marly Machine

Once you take in this private corner of the grounds, you will no doubt be interested to go further, out into that grandest palace in European history — Versailles.

From Marly, we must move to Versailles, a name that inspires us with thoughts of absolute extravagance. The grounds are so expertly tamed, the halls so overly decorated, the furnishings so ornately designed — there is truly nothing like it in all the world.

But if you were to simply walk through the grounds, you would miss out on far more than you could take in. For that reason, an expert tour guide can help you find out all the intriguing mysteries of this stunning architectural masterpiece.

What Makes Versailles So Special

The history of Versailles begins with Louis XIV and his two main missions in life. First, he wanted to live life in absolute luxury. And second, he wanted to deftly overcome his adversaries. How strange that Versailles became the breathtaking wonder it is today due to the cunning of royal court politics.

Before Louis XIV turned it into an unprecedented pleasure garden, it was all part of Marly Forest, a place for his father to hunt in. There was a lodge there, but nothing like we see now.

Plans were put in place to make it a palace all because Louis XIV had problems with the aristocrats. For one, they kept standing in the way of his authority, which he believed should be absolute. For another, he desperately needed to raise taxes on them to avoid more revolts from the poor, who were forced to pay most of the taxes at the time. The aristocrats, of course, preferred to keep as much power and money for themselves. So there was conflict.

To solve this, Louis knew he couldn’t simply enter an open battle. He needed to be much more careful. He decided to build a palace unlike anything anyone had ever seen. It would be so beautiful, so comfortable, and so entertaining that no one would ever want to leave.

This way, the aristocrats could not plot against the king from far away, they would be in Versailles where Louis’s camp could keep watch and listen in on conversations. And on the other hand, with the court so distracted and pleased, Louis could make underhanded deals without them noticing.

When you walk the grounds and halls today, it is easy to see why this scheme worked. The lavish construction, the fantastic fountains, the sumptuous fabrics and art — it is an intoxicating swirl of sensations.

Art Tour of Paris

With Versailles only 10 kilometers from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, you might be more than content to stay right here in the village. But Paris is only a brief 30 minute taxi ride away, and you can take our art tour to the city where you will explore the greatest works of art.

On this tour, you will visit two imminent museums: the Louvre and the Orsay. It is an art lover’s dream come true.

We provide everything — a safe and polite private drive to the city and tour guides who can teach you all about the amazing art and French history you encounter on your way.

The Louvre

The Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world and for good reason. Its tremendous collection includes legendary pieces like Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa.

It also has multiple departments focused on art and artifacts from ancient civilizations, including Egypt, Greece, Rome, and more. There are also departments for decorative arts, Islamic arts, and others.

At any given moment, the Louvre presents 35,00 works of art and hundreds of thousands of objects. These give you a taste of every major movement from everywhere on the globe, leaving no stone unturned as it explores the wonders of art and history. This sweeping, truly global display is a can’t miss experience, one that has come to define what all museums strive to be.

With our Louvre tour guide to teach you everything you want to know, you can get the most out of your visit. You will learn about the long history of the gorgeous building itself, the controversy surrounding the new entrance designed by I.M. Pei, as well as the stories that bring the artwork to life.

Orsay Museum

Taking up residence in what used to be a railway station, the Orsay is a museum of striking beauty both outside and in. While the Louvre keeps its focus wide, this collection is much more focused. For that reason, it draws you close to the artistic legacy of France, particularly among the Impressionist and post-Impressionist schools.

The list of painters represented here is a staggering who’s who of late 19th and early 20th century geniuses — Van Gogh, Berthe Morisot, Seurat, Degas, Monet, Manet, and more besides.

By bringing these two generations so close together, one gets a rich appreciation of a time when art rapidly changed, breaking free from centuries of fixed rules to the expression and exploration that would come to define painting forever after.

It’s a major part of French history, and one that can only be fully appreciated by standing in the room with these giants of art. With your tour guide available for questions, you can unlock even more insights from this special time in history of painting, unlocked during the combo Louvre & Orsay tour.

France at Your Fingertips

Saint-Germain-en-Laye shows you so many sides of France. From commune life filled with delicious food and enchanting sights, to the palaces of kings long past, to the expansive culture of Paris — there is no better place to host your French vacation.

Loft Trotters is made to bring you a B&B experience that pampers you while also giving you access to all these fantastic opportunities in the Paris region.

If you’re excited to see France in so many ways, book a room with us today! This could be the beginning of your next adventure.

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