Great Terrasse of Le Nôtre in Saint-Germain-en-Laye


The great terrace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye designed by Le Nôtre overlooks the Seine River and the western suburbs of Paris. Laid out between 1668 and 1675 near the two castles (Château-Vieux and Château-Neuf), the monumental terrace is 30 metres wide and 2,400 metres long.

The terrace of Le Nôtre

The landscape compositions created by André Le Nôtre take into account the potential optical effects. Indeed, the terrace shows why André Le Nôtre was a master of perspective. The 2.4 km long terrace was designed with an offset perspective to look much longer that it really is.

On the first third of the terrace’s length (between the Belvedere and the Royal half moon) Le Nôtre created a cunning slope while leaving the two other thirds flat. To the eye the slope seems to be situated halfway, so that once you are on the flat part of the terrace the walker thinks he has reached halfway while he has actually only covered one-third.

Le Nôtre worked on funnelling the lines of perspective too: the alley widens imperceptibly as the walker moves forward.

The terrace comprises of the Grand Terrace (or ‘Grande Terrasse‘ between the Belvedere and the Rond Royal) and the Little Terrace (or ‘Petite Terrasse‘ between the Pavilion Henri IV and the Belvedere).

The Little Terrace:

The Little Terrace (400 metres) starts at the Henri IV Pavilion (site of the Château-Neuf) and ends at the Belvedere:

The Grand Terrace:

The Grand Terrace (1,945 metres) starts from the Belvedere and passes through the Demi-Lune (half-moon). Bordered by lime trees, the promenade ends in the vicinity of Le Mesnil-le-Roi at the Rond Royal:

The wrought-iron railing was added between 1857 and 1871.

The Panoramic View

Since its creation the grand terrace has offered stunning views of the Western suburbs of Paris.

Viewpoint Indicator

At the Belvedere a viewpoint indicator shows the main landmarks seen from the terrace: the River Seine, the green stretch of Le Vésinet, the business centre of La Défense, Mont-Valérien, the Montparnasse Tower and the Eiffel Tower. On a clear day the Sacré-Cœur basilica on the hill of Montmartre can be seen in the distance behind La Défense.

View of Le Pecq:

Views of Le Vésinet:

Views of Le Mesnil-le-Roi and Maisons-Laffitte:

Views of La Défense:

Views of Mont-Valérien, the Eiffel Tower and Montparnasse Tower:

Views of the A16 motorway and Montmartre:

Views of Argenteuil:

Vin des Grottes

A small vineyard can be seen under the Petite Terrasse. Some 1,820 grapevines were planted in 1999 by the communes of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Le Pecq with two varieties of Pinot Noir grapes. Carrying on a very old tradition, it produces a wine called ‘Vin des Grottes’.


Discover the département of Yvelines (Versailles, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Rambouillet…): Tourisme en Yvelines.


About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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