A reasonably short train ride away from Paris is the charming town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. As soon as you exit from the RER A station, manicured gardens and the large mansion stand in front of you. The Chateau has now been turned into the national archaeological museum for France, but the exterior remains just as regal as ever.
The gardens are active – runners, football players, and stroller-walkers meander throughout the expansive green spaces. The edge of the gardens end in a cliff, providing a view to the rest of the city.
View of the Town, June 2016
Gardens of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, June 2016
After a tour of the Chateau and grounds, the little shops and cafes in the vicinity retain the historical atmosphere, with architecture similar to the Haussmannian buildings of Paris.
With the beautiful weather, it was the perfect time to go on a day trip to the Chateau de Fontainebleau with two of my friends. We didn’t know much about the chateau but were intrigued enough to climb aboard the train for an hour to get there.
It turned out to the perfect day trip. A picnic lunch. A history lesson. And a bunch of laughs.
The Chateau de Fontainebleau was owned by many important figures throughout the centuries, and each had their own ideas of what it should look like. Notable owners include Francis I, Louis XII to Louis XVI, Napoleon and Napoleon III. The Chateau became a hodgepodge of all their ideas, with each addition denoted by adding their coat of arms or insignia.
The building itself contains many different styles, but so do the gardens. Although there are traditional French gardens, they also included an English garden and of course left a large swath of land untouched for hunting grounds.