WELCOME IN SAINT-LEU
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Saint-Leu d'Esserent is an ancient medieval city rich in religious and civilian history. Located between the valley of the river Oise and a vast agricultural plateau, Saint-Leu has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period, then by the Celtic and the Gauls. The city went through the centuries paying a heavy cost to wars, revolutions and pillaging - Hundred Years' War, the "Jacquerie", World War II.
Fortunately, many traces from the past lived on through the various periods of History.
> The town has restaurants, bed and breakfast, hotels as well as several welcoming campsites, click here.
> Download the map, click here
We wish you a pleasant stay !
Office de Tourisme PSO
7 avenue de la gare (face à la gare) - 60340
Tél. 03 44 56 38 10
The architectural heritage of Saint-Leu d'Esserent was built with local stone. This raw material (a specific limestone named Band of
Saint-Leu) has been
extracted from various places of the city. As an example, the underground quarry of the "Couvent"(1) is known as the biggest in the Oise department with its 220 acres and was used during World War II to assemble and store the German V1 bombs. The limestone was first extracted by the Gallo-Romans then by the Merovingian quarrymen who lived in cave dwellings (2). The stone was transported by boats called "besognes" (tasks) pulled by horses along the towpaths (3).
The limestone of Saint-Leu was famous and was used for religious buildings (the Cathedrals of Chartres and Sens in
particular) as well as castles like the Château de Versailles and many monuments in Paris.
The best way for a general view of this heritage is to start with the Château de la Guesdière and its Garden a la française (5). The castle was first a fortified house meant to protect the church, the priory and the monks of the Cluniac Reform. The building was almost entirely destroyed during the Hundred Years' War. Rebuilt, two new aisles were also added during the 16th and the 19th century with a noticeable architectural coherence. Jacques-Germain de la Guesdière, secret counselor of King Louis XIII, bought the Château and gave it his name. It now is the public building of the town hall and a museum, Musée de la Guesdière (6), devoted to the Lupovician history and heritage (The inhabitants of Saint-Leu d'Esserent are called the Lupovicians). In the museum, you will discover various themes of the history of the town :
extraction of the limestone and the Oise River, the church and the monastic way of life, the rural world and the Jacquerie revolt, the castle's life through the ages, World War II and the bombings over the city.
The priory church of St Nicholas (7) is an architectural jewel showing the transition between the Roman and the Gothic architecture.
It was classified as a place of historic interest by Prosper Mérimée in 1840. The church is located on the top of a limestone promontory which dominates the city, the Oise valley and its surroundings. This remarkable panorama is visible from the Abbey Gardens (8) on the south side of the church. The abbey was built during the 12th century on a primitive church dating back to the year 1000 AD. Monks from the Benedictine Order of Cluny have been living there for many centuries in the nearby priory (9) linked to the church by a cloister whose major entrance door is still visible from the street. Also very close from the church is the Cave Banvin (10) which was used by the monks to receive stock and sell the wine they produced. It now shelters artistic exhibitions among other manifestations. Among these places full of history, you will also see an ancient dovecote, some remains of the ramparts (11) with a turret called the "Tourelle du Guetteur"(the look-out turret) as well as traces of the last cave dwellings in the street rue du Dernier Bourguignon.
Saint-Leu d'Esserent has also some assets regarding nature and leisure activities. First of all, the Banks of the river were used as towpaths for the navigation on the Oise River (13).
They now make the pleasurable use of walkers and cyclists. Hiking paths start from the centre to lead to the agricultural plateaus above the town, in particular to the forest Bois Saint-Michel (14) which is also classified as a place of interest and was inhabited in very old times. Finally and above all, the Country Park (15) of Saint-Leu d'Esserent is located in a 120 acres area, 75 of them wooded. There is a natural swimming area with a sandy beach, picnics places with barbecues, a large pond to go sailing and have various water activities, paths for walking, playgrounds for the children, pony rides, etc.