- Not to be confused with the town of Saint-Quentin in the region of Hauts-de-France..
Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, often abbreviated to SQY, is a conurbation of several new towns South-West of Paris (officially Elancourt, Trappes, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, Guyancourt, Plaisir, Voisins-le-Bretonneux, Magny-les-Hameaux, La Verrière, Bois d'Arcy, Maurepas and Coignières). Tourists are most likely to come here to visit France Miniature, for outdoor sports and as a gateway to the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse National Park, and while there is little else of particular interest in the town for your average tourist, it does have an impressive array of modern and postmodern architecture that may be interesting to some.
The area was traditionally strategically important, surrounded by the valleys of the Bièvre and Yvette rivers to the South-East and the Seine and Mauldre rivers to the North-West, and with a major Roman road running through it connecting Lutetia (modern-day Paris) with the Gaulish town of Durocassium (modern-day Dreux). Major irrigation projects were carried out in the region during the 17th century under orders of Louis XIV in order to manage the water supply to the Palace of Versailles and its gardens.
During the post-war period, the Paris region experienced very rapid urban growth which was exacerbated by the arrival of large numbers of Algerian immigrants and repatriated White settlers (pieds noirs) following independence in the early 1960s. Many of these immigrants settled in very insalubrious shantytowns (bidonvilles) around what were then the edges of the city. An apocryphal story tells of Charles de Gaulle flying over the Paris region in a helicopter, and turning to his chief delegate of the Paris region, Paul Delouvrier, stated something along the lines of "We don't know what's going on here in these Paris suburbs! Delouvrier, make some order from this mess!" (Cette banlieue parisienne, on ne sait pas ce que c'est! Delouvrier, mettez-moi de l'ordre dans ce bordel!). This prompted Delouvrier to set up a system of five new towns (villes nouvelles) around Paris in 1965 to accommodate the overspill population of the region: Evry and Sénart in the south-east, Marne-la-Vallée in the east, Cergy-Pontoise in the north-west, and finally a fifth new town to the south-west of Paris. This town would be located in an area with good transport links to Paris, large agricultural properties that could easily be purchased, and where some degree of post-war urbanisation had already started taking place, notably in the small town of Trappes (which had been the site of a major railway marshalling yard since before World War I), and in the communes of Villepreux and Les Clayes-sous-Bois. The town would be named Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines after the nearby lake of Saint-Quentin, an artificial lake dammed in the 17th century to supply water to the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.
The new town of Saint-Quentin-of-Yvelines was officially founded in 1970, and the Western communes of Trappes, Elancourt and Maurepas experienced rapid population growth starting in the late 1960s and continuing throughout the 1970s, with immigrants from the bidonvilles attracted by the new amenities that were provided in the new flats. The first 'new quarter' of this new town would be the Quartier des 7 Mares in Elancourt, which would act as a new town centre for the Western part of the conurbation.
In 1975, the new station of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines was opened and development started to become more focused on the Eastern communes of Montigny-le-Bretonneux and Guyancourt, with a brand new 'town centre' to be built in Montigny-le-Bretonneux near the station. Contrary to the earlier developments in the Western communes focussed on large modernist housing estates (grands ensembles), the design of the Eastern part of the city would more closely mimic traditionalist styles of town planning, with the new town centre in particular consisting of a large amount of neo-traditionalist postmodern architecture that would be built over the course of the late 1980s and 90s, the centrepiece being the Place George Pompidou. The last major quarters of the new town were constructed in the mid-1990s before the new town project was declared 'complete' in 2004, although of course construction on a smaller scale continues to this day.
The new town acted as a 'blank slate' for urbanists and architects to design their ideal town vision together with sociologists, philosophers and historians. It was therefore an open laboratory for various different architectural styles of the late 20th century and attracted a large number of celebrated architects in their field. Due to the different eras of construction, there is a clear architectural divide between the Western and the Eastern communes of the new town, with the Western communes being home to more drab modernist schools architecture characteristic of the 30 years that followed the end of World War II (les Trentes Glorieuses) and the Eastern communes being characterised by more vibrant postmodern schools of architecture from the 1980s and 90s.
In 2014, SQY was home to around 230,000 people. It is the second-biggest economic hub in the West of Paris after La Défense (the commune of Guyancourt home to more jobs than residents), with a large number of engineering and hi-tech companies having offices here, notably Renault which has its R&D headquarters in the Guyancourt Technocentre, as well as the University of Versailles and Saint-Quentin (UVSQ). Unlike many of the other new towns founded by Paul Delouvrier (notably Evry), SQY is considered relatively middle-class and ranks low on deprivation indices, the major exception being Trappes which is easily the most deprived commune in the region.
The town is also home to the source of the Bièvre river which flows through the South of Paris until it reaches the Seine in the 13th arrondissement.
Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines is relatively well-served by public transport from Paris, with the RERand Transilien lines and serving the major hub of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and the N serving several communes further out.
Stations served by the, and the Rambouillet branch of the :
- 1 Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
Stations served by theand the Rambouillet branch of the :
Stations served by the Rambouillet branch of the:
- 4 Coignières.
Stations served by the Mantes-la-Jolie and Dreux branches of the:
The quality of public transport is relatively poor for a town of its size and hasn't fully caught up with its growth. Walking from one part of the town to another can be made difficult not only by its size but also by the fact that it is criss-crossed by not entirely pedestrian-friendly roads as well as several motorways and a railway line with few crossing points (walking to the town centre from the northern communes in particular is made incomprehensibly difficult by the presence of the N12). Most of the new town is served by a bus network run by SQYBUS, with a single ticket typically costing €1.90 that you buy on the bus (they don't usually take credit cards). However, these can be somewhat infrequent particularly on week-ends.
- 1 France Miniature, Boulevard André Malraux, Élancourt (take bus number 420 from La Verrière Station), ☏ . varies from day to day, closed in winter. Miniature park containing scale models of France's main monuments and attractions, if you want a whistle-stop tour of France without leaving the Paris region. Ideal for families.
- 2 Les Arcades du Lac (Lac de la Sourderie), 21 Rue Jacques Cartier 11 (number of buses from Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and Trappes stations). Surreal postmodern housing estate built around an artificial lake, completed in 1981 by the architect Ricardo Bofill as a 'Versailles for the People'.
- 3 Musée de la ville de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Quai François Truffaut (short walk from Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines station). W Sa 14:00-19:00, F 13:00-18:00. Local museum detailing the history of the new town project and the former villages that constituted it.
- 4 Chateau de Plaisir, 282 Rue de la Bretechelle, Plaisir. Stately home and park from the 18th century.
- 1 Haute Vallée de Chevreuse (Parc naturel régional de la Haute Vallée de Chevreuse) (a shuttle bus run by the company Baladobus goes from La Verrière station around the main sites approximately once an hour during summer.). Rolling hills with scenic villages providing a nice hiking destination. Also home to some old Chateaus and the ruins of the Abbaye de Port-Royal-des-Champs.
Most shops are in SQY town centre, which is also home to two large indoor shopping centres: the Espace Saint Quentin and the rather desolate SQY Ouest. The Espace Saint Quentin houses a very large supermarket (Carrefour).
There is also a large shopping centre next to Plaisir - Les Clayes station which is home to several discount supermarkets as well as a very large Auchan.
- 1 Dolia Nova, 25 Av. du Centre, ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-15:00, 19:00-22:00. Corsican-run Italian restaurant.
- 2 Pho78, 18 Bd Vauban, ☏ . M-Sa 11:30–14:30, 18:30–22:30. Vietnamese restaurant.
- 3 La Table de Savoie et Bretagne, 2-4 Quai François Truffaut, ☏ . Daily 12:00–14:30, 19:00–22:30. Has two menus: a Breton menu (i.e., Crepes) and a Savoy menu (e.g., fondue,tTartiflette).
- 1 Hôtel Restaurant Campanile Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Centre Commercial Regional, 2 Pl. Georges Pompidou, ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00.
- 2 Hôtel Mercure Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Centre, 9 Place E.F Choiseul, Avenue du Centre, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. 4 stars.
- 3 Best Western The Wish Versailles, 6 bis Rue des Graviers, Guyancourt, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 3 stars.
- 4 Residhome Paris Guyancourt, 6 Boulevard du Château, Guyancourt, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Self-catering facilities.
The commune of Trappes is known for its crime, gang violence and radical Islamism (a very disproportionate number of ISIS recruits came from here) and has a history of riots. Avoid the area around the Merisiers estate.
|Routes through Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines|
|END ←||SW N||→ Versailles → La Défense|
|Rambouillet ← Les-Essarts-le-Roi ←||SW NE||→ Versailles → 14th arrondissement|
|Dreux ← Montfort-l'Amaury ←||W NE||→ Versailles → 14th arrondissement|
|END ←||SW NE||→ Versailles → Paris|
|Brest ← Dreux ←||W E||→ Versailles|
|Spain ← Rambouillet ←||SW NE||→ END|