Pièce 37 - Description par Thomas Nugent des châteaux de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

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Description par Thomas Nugent des châteaux de Saint-Germain-en-Laye


  • 1778 (Production)

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« [p. 135] S. Germains, commonly called S. Germains en Laye, is a small town of the isle of France, in the district of Mantois, situated on a high hill, at the foot of which runs the Seine, about twelve miles to the westward of Paris, and one from Versailles. It is remarkable for the royal castle or palace, which was begun by Charles V and enlarged and beautified by succeeding princes, but especially by Lewis XIV who was born here. The palace is built in the form of a castle, and [p. 136] surrounded with a dry ditch. A magnificent stone gallery runs round the middle of the whole structure, which is of an oval figure, and the roof is covered with thin flat free-stone instead of tiles. The chapel is remarkable for an excellent altar-piece, representing the Lord's Supper, by Poussin. The prospect from the castle is admirable, especially towards the river and the plains, having Paris, S. Denis, and Marli, within sight. There is a curious mall in this castle, with square pavilions built all along, for the conveniency of the players and spectators. Among the improvements made to this place by Lewis XIV he added the terrass of above three thousand paces in length, the grand parterre, and the valley-garden. There are abundance of dry grottos, which afford pleasant retreats in the summer, and several wet ones, with curious water-works, and artificial birds, which make an agreeable sound. In one of the grottos there is a virgin playing on the organs, whose eyes are so artificially moved, that she seems to be alive; in another place there is an Orpheus playing on the lute, and keeping time, while the beasts, birds, woods and rocks seem to follow him, with several representations of the like nature, all put into motion by water. The adjacent forest contains upwards of five thousand acres, and is cut through with an infinate number of large ridings, well replenished with game, which renders it a most agreeable situation for hunting. It was in this castle that the late king James resided with his court during his exile, and here he died in 1701. His body was afterwards interred in the monastery of the English Benedictins in Paris.
The town of S. Germains is well peopled, which is owing to the goodness of the air, and the privileges they enjoy. The houses are high [p. 137] and well built. There are some squares, with several hotels; among the rest, that of the duke of Noailles, which is neatly furnished, and has some handsome gardens. The town has only one parish, an hospital, and some convents, which are those of the Recollects, the Ursuline Nuns, and the bare-footed Augustinians, who live in the forest. »

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Thomas Nugent, The Grand tour ; or a Journey through the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and France, 3e édition, Londres, J. Revington and sons, 1778, t. IV, p. 135-137

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