History and tradition
The Pavillon Henri IV is built on the Saint-Germain Terrace, on the very site of the first royal castle. Philibert Delorme began working on a new castle ("Château Neuf") in 1556 under the reign of Henri II. Further work to enlarge and embellish the Château Neuf was begun in 1589 under King Henri IV and directed by architects Jean de Fourcy, J.B. Androuet du Cerceau and Louis Metezeau. The buildings were completed and the court moved in around 1603.
The Château Neuf became the royal residence under Henri IV and remained so under Louis XIII and Louis XIV up until 1660, when the court was forced to move into the ancient castle until they were able to move to Versailles. During the night of 4 September 1638, Anne of Austria went into labor and gave birth to Louis Dieudonné, the future Louis XIV, on 5 September 1638.
The salon in which the Sun King was born is now one of the salons of the Pavillon Henri IV and is classified a historical monument. With the arrival of Louis XIV, Saint Germain entered into the richest phase of its history. The castle was the King's preferred residence from 1666 until 1682, when Saint Germain was abandoned in favor of Versailles. In 1777 the Château Neuf became the property of the Count of Artois, Louis XVI's brother and the future Charles X.
By that time, however, the castle was in complete disrepair. The Count decided to have a new residence built in its place on more solid foundations, and demolition of the Château Neuf began in 1779.