Saint-Germain-en-LayeSaint-Germain-en-Laye is a historical and cultural city, where, among others, was born King Louis XIV. The castle, along with its terrace designed by Le Nôtre above the Paris region valley, is one of the most beautiful residences of French kings. It was there that Molière founded “the King’s company” in 1665. Oaks that still remember Louis XIV can be admired in the forest (property of the State), the city jewel with more than 3 500 hectares. Its royal past is not the only remarkable aspect of this city with a Napoleonic past.
From Consulate to Empire, Saint-Germain-en-Laye followed the imperial epic. Napoleon did not live in Saint-Germain, but came to hunt several times between 1806 and 1809; his name is mainly linked to the creation of two schools: one for cavalry and Maison d’Education de la Légion d’Honneur. When the first decrees General Bonaparte declared after 18 brumaire, Year VIII, were announced in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the “Place de la Révolution” plate was crossed out and became “Place Royale”, as a sign of hope raised by the young general.
The population welcomed the Constitution as an “oracle of France’s fortunate destiny”. Balls in honour of Bonaparte took place in the city. For instance, on August 4th, 1802, they celebrated all together the proclamation of Bonaparte Consul for life, his birthday and the Concordat. Saint-Germain is proud to have had two of its representatives among the official guests at the Emperor’s coronation on December 2nd, 1804. During Empire, Napoleon Bonaparte became more present: balls to the glory of the Napoleonic regime took place on August 15th and December 2nd, festivities were held in the City Hall, the Church and the “imperial garden”. In 1809 the special military cavalry school took its headquarters in the Old Castle; a place with nearby stables to accommodate hundreds of horses and the forest, a magnificent area for practicing. This school was the “training ground” for horse troops officers towards the end of the Empire; it existed until July 1814 and afterwards joined the Saint-Cyr one. In 1810 Napoleon created the Maison d’Education de la Légion d’Honneur for orphans of the Légion d’Honneur order members. During the Second Empire, the strength of heritage and the attention of Napoleon III The Empire was proclaimed on December 2nd, 1852.