Hiking itinerary in Saint-Germain forest

Visit and explore on foot the “green lung” of our region. The 3,553 hectares of forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye are within easy reach of the town centre and just waiting to be explored.

Information on the tour

7 km circuit. Level of difficulty: beginner

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

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Tour

Route

Departure – National Domain gates
(RER train station – Line A – Exit in front of the château)

Go through the park gates and walk the length of the château which is on your right.

Stage 1 – French-style gardens

They were created between François Premier’s old château and the new château of Henri IV, which was demolished at the end of the 18th century.

Stage 2 – Le Pavillon Henri IV

Departing from the small terrace, you can admire the hotel and restaurant, Pavillon Henri IV on your right. It stands on the site of the Château-Neuf, which was demolished during the French Revolution. Only the Oratory where King Louis XIV was baptised still remains. The vineyard below the Petite Terrasse, tended by the municipal councils of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and the Le Pecq, produce the “vin de grottes” (cave wine).

Stage 3 – The toposcope

Follow the Petite Terrasse to the toposcope, then the Grande Terrasse designed by André le Nôtre, who was architect to King Louis XIV between 1668 and 1675. Le Nôtre wanted it to seem endless, and it stretches for 2.4 km. The toposcope provides information on the views over the Seine valley and Paris.

Stage 4 – The royal gate

Leave the terrace via the royal gate, continue straight on and cross the D157 road.

Stage 5 – Château du Val

In the clearing, behind you stands the Château du Val, the former hunting pavilion designed by 18th-century architect Jules Hardouin Mansart. Then, continue straight on before turning right onto Route du Houx, or taking the salamander path (valley discovery trail) by following the markers depicting the animal.

Stage 6 – La Mare aux Canes

You then arrive at the Mare aux Canes, a pond by which to relax. Go round the pond and continuer on the trail to the Actéon intersection.

Stage 7 – Actéon Intersection

This major crossroads conjures images of great royal hunts. Turn right (with the lake behind you) onto Route Notre Dame de Bon Secours and follow the end part of the Sentier des Oratoires, which is marked by blue crosses.

Stage 8 – Notre Dame des Anglais

You’ll see the chêne des Anglais (oak of the English), under which James II Stuart, cousin of Louis XIV, came to pray when in exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Stage 9 – National Domain

Enter the National Domain via the Dauphine gate.

Stage 10 – The English garden

The English garden was created by order of Louis Philippe after the station was built on the site of one of the ponds created by Le Nôtre.

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