Last Updated on 22nd September 2021 by Sophie Nadeau
Around twenty minutes west of Paris by ReR regional train, lies the quaint town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Complete with its own royal palace, a couple of other museums and enough patisserie shops to make you drool, it’s the perfect place to go on a day trip out of Paris…
- Introducing Saint Germain en Laye, the Birthplace of Debussy
- Things to do in Saint-Germain-en-Laye
- How to visit Saint-Germain-en-Laye
- France Travel Information
Introducing Saint Germain en Laye, the Birthplace of Debussy
Located in the Île de France and with a population hovering around forty thousand people, the pretty town of Saint Germain en Laye is best known as being the birthplace of Debussy. And with an amazing view over Paris and vast woodlands to walk in, the town also has a rich history.
For more information, there is also a tourism office in the centre of the town with plenty of information on nearby attractions.
Things to do in Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Visit the Musée Archéologie
The château at Saint-Germain-en-Laye was once key to the French court and kings of France before they moved to Versailles. It was here that Napoleon I created his cavalry training school in the 19th Century.
Today the palace is a museum, the National Archaeology Museum for France. There are particularly good displays about pre-History. There is also a chapel that you can visit.
Visit: between Wednesday and Monday.
Explore the Domaine Saint-Germain-en-Laye
The amazing view over the former gardens allows you to see all the way to La Defense (and on a clear day, Paris itself). The woodland and long plane tree lined avenues are lovely to walk around and make a great place to have a picnic.
At the very end of the garden is the Jardin Anglais (English Garden). The wending pathways here were created with the introduction of the railway line in order to ‘beautify’ the garden when the new tracks cut up its previous periphery.
Learn about Debussy at Maison Debussy
Located on the first floor above the Tourism office, the house of the composer Debussy is free to visit. Although it is not known in exactly which room the famous French composer was born, the museum consists of many of his personal possessions and it is here that he lived with his wife and daughter ChouChou.
Visit: between Wednesday and Monday.
Eat a pastry at Gouley
This award winning patisserie shop has more patisseries that I have ever seen in my life! From macarons to tarts, there is a rainbow of flavours, fruits, and sweets to choose from. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to go for the pistachio and raspberry tart.
Wander around Place des Marchés
Situated in the very heart of the town is the main square. Surrounded by independent boutiques, cheese shops, boulangeries and, of course, patisserie shops, it is a great place to stop, drink an espresso and go people watching.
Annnddd, if you want to see more, I’ve done a vlog of my trip to Saint-Germain-en-Laye:
How to visit Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Take the RER A in the direction of Saint-Germain-en-Laye from Auber. The train takes around half an hour each way and costs just a few euros.
France Travel Information
France uses the Euro (€)
The main language spoken in France is French. Though you can get by with English is more touristic places, it’s always a good idea to learn some of the local language. Bring along a simple phrasebook like this one to help make your travels easier.
The capital of France is Paris. For more information and inspiration, check out our best Paris travel tips.
France uses plug types, types C and E. As such, if you’re travelling from the UK, USA, Canada, and many other destinations, you’ll need to buy an adapter. I recommend buying a universal travel adapter that you can use for multiple destinations (rather than buying a new adaptor for each place you visit).
As one of the most popular destinations in the world, you should always consider booking your accommodation well ahead of time. Check out this website for price comparison details and detailed reviews.
Be careful with your belongings. I also highly advise to avoid wearing a backpack and to instead opt for a crossbody bag like these ones. I personally use a crossbody bag by this brand and love its shape, size, and versatility.