The Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés was the burial place of Merovingian kings of Neustria. The Abbey was founded in the 6th century by Childebert I, the son of Clovis I (ruled 511–558). Under royal patronage the Abbey became one of the richest in France; it housed an important scriptorium in the 11th century and remained a center of intellectual life in the French Catholic church until it was disbanded during the French Revolution.
The church was frequently plundered and set on fire by the Normans in the 9th century. It was rebuilt in 1014 and rededicated in 1163 by Pope Alexander III to Saint Germain of Paris, the canonized Bishop of Paris and Childeric"s chief counsellor. A new refectory was built for the monastery by Peter of Montereau in around 1239 - he was later the architect of the Sainte-Chapelle.
The abbey church"s west end tower was pierced by a portal, completed in the 12th century, which collapsed in 1604 and was replaced in 1606 by the present classicising portal, by Marcel Le Roy. Its choir, with its apsidal east end, provides an early example of flying buttresses. An explosion of saltpetre in storage levelled the Abbey and its cloisters, the statues in the portal were removed (illustration) and some destroyed, and in a fire in 1794 the library vanished in smoke.
Until the late 17th century, the Abbey owned most of the land in the Left Bank west of the current Boulevard Saint-Michel and had administrative autonomy in it, most clearly for the part outside the walls of Paris.
The tomb of philosopher René Descartes is located in one of the church"s side chapels.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.