Saint-Germain-Laval rises above the Aix river, a tributary of the Loire, on a hill that faces the Plaine du Forez. Picturesque streets, various monuments of character and beautiful XNUMXth century residencese XVIe century. This remarkable village offers many possibilities for discovering preserved historic places such as Notre Dame de Laval from the XNUMXth century.e century and the Commanderie de Verrières of the XVIIe century.

Château de Saint-Germain-Laval
Saint-Germain-Laval Castle © Jean-Luc Buffet

Not to be missed of Saint-Germain-Laval

  • The chapel of the Madeleine,
  • The Place du Marché and its half-timbered house, the Boissieu house and its old mansions,
  • The hamlet "Baffy": Notre-Dame-de-Laval and the Roman bridge,
  • The Convent of the Franciscans Recollets,
  • The castle and its remains of fortifications,
  • The hamlet "Verrières": Commanderie and Chapelle.

Architectures and great men

Saint-Germain-Laval is the land of beautiful XNUMXth century residencese and XVIe century, the Récollets convent, XNUMXth century mansionse and XVIIIe century. Today occupied by the town hall. Here are some characteristics of these hotels: Roman tiles, Genoese (rows of tiles under the roof), small square windows in the attic.

Presence of humanists in continuity of the renaissance like Jean Papire Masson of the XVIe century, professor of philosophy and lawyer in parliament with immense works.

Daniel Greysolon du Luth, explorer traveler, led an expedition to Lake Superior on the American continent. He left his name to the city of Duluth. Following industrial development in the XIXe century, from Lyon, Roanne and Saint-Etienne set up artisanal establishments: cotton, silk and weaponry spinning mills.

In the district of Baffy stands Notre-Dame-de-Laval, a major pilgrimage site built according to the statements to house the statue of the black virgin.

Maison à colombages au centre du village de Saint-Germain-Laval
Half-timbered house in the center of the village of Saint-Germain-Laval © Jean-Luc Buffet

A village where stones tell stories ...

Departing from the kiosk, rue Nationale, a historical pedestrian circuit, available on request at the town hall, offers a one-hour stroll through the ages. The circuit is also available on the website of the town. The former capital of Haut Forez has managed to preserve the vestiges of a historical past.

The village of Saint-Germain-Laval calls for the discovery of these charming alleys. Small narrow streets surround this hill ideally located between Forez and Roannais. The castle, where the oldest mention dates from 1183, dominates the fortified town.

In the XVIIe and XVIIIe century, the Coste family built the town hall building. She operated the Baffy tanneries. The leather warehouses were on the first floor. Today, four Aubusson tapestries remain, ordered to decorate a room illustrating a theme dear to the family: hunting.

The Notre-Dame Chapel, built in the XNUMXth centurye century, thanks to bequests, in an older place of Marian worship, and completed in the XNUMXth centurye century. This chapel was built to house the statue of the Black Madonna.

The most beautiful points of view

  • From the Madeleine chapel: view of the Aix valley and the Madeleine mountains,
  • Chapel of Baffy and its Roman bridge,
  • From the hamlet of Marcilleux: view of the village, the Forez plain and the Lyonnais mountains,
  • From the hamlet of Bruyères in Nollieux: view of the village.

Aix, a tributary of the Loire crosses Saint-Germain-Laval

Saint-Germain-Laval overlooks Aix, a clear and shady river. Aix takes its source in the black woods at Chausseterre. This abundant river, 49 kilometers long, flows into the Loire at the border between the towns of Nervieux and Saint-Georges-de-Baroille. Aix is ​​a fish river appreciated by fishermen for the presence of trout and grayling. Downstream, in the plain, at Pommiers-en-Forez, the Isable joins the Aix. White water fish frequent its meanders, such as gudgeons, minnows and predators towards the confluence with the Loire river. The European beaver, reintroduced in the mid-90s in the Forez plain, has seen a small population settle in Aix. It is distinguished by a few gnawed trunks along the river.

Pont de Baffie
Baffie Bridge in Saint-Germain-Laval © Jean-Luc Buffet

The history of Saint-Germain-Laval

The city of Saint-Germain-Laval was built around a rocky peak dominated by the Madeleine, church of the old castrum whose fundamentals date from the XNUMXthe century. Houses extend in a spiral staircase to Boulevard des Vingtains, dotted with gardens. On the market square, mansions, such as the Boissieu house, and a half-timbered house stand out.

The historic city occupies the eastern side of the Forez mountains, a hill still steeped in, dominating the Aix valley. It was born from its privileged location near major highways, from the Gallo-Roman era with the passage from the Lyon route to the ocean, then in the Middle Ages.

In the XIIIe century, the lords grant the inhabitants a charter of franchises and the representation of its inhabitants at the assembly of the "thirteen towns of Forez" until the XVIIe century.


Saint-Germain-Laval, located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, has a population of 1621 inhabitants and is 35 kilometers from Roanne. The remarkable village in the south of the Roannais territory is located near exit 32 of the A89 motorway connecting Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon and Saint-Etienne. Important departmental roads, such as the D8 which connects Roanne to Montbrison, also cross the town. It is part of the community of Vals d'Aix et Isable and its territory covers 1708 hectares.


  • Cabins Festival - from July to September

Saint-Germain-Laval is participating this year in the festival organized since 2016 in Faverges and its surroundings on the shores of Lake Annecy by the association "Le Festival des Cabanes". Architects will be selected for the construction of three wooden cabins next June. They will be distributed to different places in the village. Around these three cabins, a program of cultural and tourist activities will be developed from July to September. Find out more

  • European Heritage Days - September

The village participates in this unmissable cultural event of the start of the school year. The European Heritage Days testify to the interest of the French for the history of places and art. These privileged days allow the whole of France to visit the national heritage, monuments, churches, theaters, castles, but also private homes, banks, courts, prefectures, courthouses, town halls, chambers of commerce ... all kinds of buildings which are usually closed to the public or little frequented. Find out more

L'avis de Marion

Marion's opinion

Passionate about historical, cultural and religious heritage or simply curious, you will find a good reason to let yourself be guided through the different eras! Between the Baffy chapel and the L'Aix river, I recommend a lunch on the grass with your feet in the water. After the meal, the little ones will be delighted to splash around in the water to cool off from the hot summer heat. Adults will prefer a nap in the shade of a tree.

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