The charming community of Saint-Germain-en-Laye is located just under 12 miles from the centre of Paris. Henri was born On March 31, 1519, at six o’clock in the morning, at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, with Diane acting as midwife. Although she had been there numerous times as lady-in-waiting to Queen Claude, this royal residence now had a very special meaning to Diane.
Louis VI built the first castle on the site. It was enlarged several times, including an expansion by François I. When François I died in 1547, Henri and his court left for Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and it was here that Henri signed the decree giving Chenonceau to Diane. It was also the site of the ill-fated duel between Jarnac and La Châtaigneraie.
As head of the Royal Nursery, Diane spent every summer at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Several of Henri and Catherine’s children were born there, and it was there, in 1550 that Louise de Brézé gave birth to one of Diane’s granddaughters, Catherine de Lorraine.
Henri’s most ambitious vision at Saint-Germain-en-Laye was construction of a separate structure, Le Châteauneuf de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which began in 1556.
After Henri’s death, Catherine’s astrologer predicted that she would die there, so she no longer used the residence. Instead, she died at the Château de Blois.
It currently houses the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale.
|The terraced area as it appears today|
By Adam Pérelle (1638-1695)