Gares de Paris

By annesophie | March 1, 2011 | Filed under: Buildings

Gare de Paris-Est

Paris Est (or Gare de l’Est, “East station” in English) is one of the six large SNCF termini in Paris. It is in the 10th arrondissement, not far from the Gare du Nord, facing the Boulevard de Strasbourg, part of the north-south axis of Paris created by Baron Haussmann. It is one of the largest and the oldest railway stations in Paris, the western terminus of the Paris–Strasbourg railway and the Paris–Mulhouse railway.

The Gare de l’Est was opened in 1849 by the Compagnie du Chemin de Fer de Paris à Strasbourg (the Paris-Strasbourg Railway Company) under the name “Strasbourg platform.” This platform corresponds today with the hall for main-line trains, and was designed by the architect François Duquesney. It was renamed the “Gare de l’Est” in 1854, after the expansion of service to Mulhouse.

Renovations to the station followed in 1885 and 1900. In 1931 it was doubled in size, with the new part of the station built symmetrically with the old part. This transformation changed the surrounding neighborhood significantly.

At the top of the west façade of the Gare de l’Est is a statue by the sculptor Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire, representing the city of Strasbourg, while the east end of the station is crowned by a statue personifying Verdun, by Varenne.  These two cities are important destinations serviced by Gare de l’Est.

On 4 October 1883, the Gare de l’Est saw the first departure of the Orient Express for Istanbul.

The Gare de l’Est is the terminus of a strategic railway network extending towards the eastern part of France, and it saw large mobilizations of French troops, most notably in 1914, at the beginning of World War I. In the main-line train hall, a monumental painting by Albert Herter, dating from 1926, illustrates the departure of these soldiers for the Western front.

SNCF started LGV Est Europeen services from the Gare de l’Est on 10 June 2007, with TGV and ICE services to north-eastern France, Luxembourg, southern Germany and Switzerland. Trains are initially planned to run at 320 km/h (198 mph), with the potential to run at 350 km/h (217 mph), cutting travel times by up to 2 hours.


Gare de Paris-Nord

Paris Nord (or Gare du Nord, “North Station“) is one of the six large terminus stations of the SNCF mainline network for Paris, France. It offers connections with several urban transportation lines, including Paris Métro and RER. By the number of travelers, at around 180 million per year, it is the busiest railway station in Europe.

The Gare du Nord handles trains to Northern France, as well as to various international destinations such as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The station complex was designed by French architect Jacques Hittorff and built between 1861 and 1864.


The first Gare du Nord was built by Bridge and Roadway Engineers on the behalf of the Chemin de Fer du Nord company, which was notably managed by Léonce Reynaud, professor of architecture at the École Polytechnique. The station was inaugurated on 14 June 1846, the same year as the launch of the Paris–Amiens–Lille rail link. Since the station turned out to be too small in size, it was partially demolished in 1860 to provide space for the current station. The original station’s façade was removed and transferred to Lille.

The president of the company Chemin de Fer du Nord, James Mayer de Rothschild, chose French architect Jacques Ignace Hittorff to design the current station. Construction lasted from May 1861 to December 1865, but the new station opened for service while still under construction in 1864. The façade was designed around a triumphal arch and used many slabs of stone. The building has the usual U-shape of a terminus station. The main support beam is made out ofcast iron. The support pillars inside the station were made at Alston & Gourley’s ironworks in Glasgow in the United Kingdom, the only country to contain a sufficiently large foundry to do so.

The sculptural program represents the cities served by the company. The eight most majestic statues, which crown the building along the cornice line, illustrate international destinations, with the ninth figure of Paris in the center. Fourteen more modest statues of northern French cities are arrayed lower on the facade. The sculptors represented are:

  • London and Vienna by Jean-Louis Jaley
  • Brussels and Warsaw by François Jouffroy
  • Amsterdam by Charles Gumery
  • Frankfurt by Gabriel Thomas
  • Berlin by Jean-Joseph Perraud
  • Cologne by Mathurin Moreau
  • Paris, Boulogne and Compiegne by Pierre-Jules Cavelier
  • Arras and Laon by Théodore-Charles Gruyère
  • Lille and Beauvais by Charles-François Lebœuf
  • Valenciennes and Calais by Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire
  • Rouen and Amiens by Eugène-Louis Lequesne
  • Douai and Dunkirk by Gustave Crauck
  • Cambrai and Saint-Quentin by Auguste Ottin

In 1927 an American multi-millionairess named Alice de Janzé shot herself and her British lover, Raymund de Trafford, on board a train at the Gare du Nord. The two survived their injuries.

Like other Parisian railway stations, the Gare du Nord rapidly became too small to deal with the increase in railway traffic. In 1884, engineers were able to add five supplementary tracks. The interior was completely rebuilt in 1889 and an extension was built on the eastern side to serve suburban rail lines. More expansion work was carried out between the 1930s and the 1960s.

Beginning in 1906 and 1908, the station was served by the Line 4, which crosses Paris from north to south, and the terminus of Line 5, which extended to Gare de Lyon. In the 1930s, Line 5 was extended towards the suburbs of Pantin andBobigny. Line 2 (station La Chapelle) is linked to the Gare du Nord via an underground tunnel. One enters the Métro station and, instead of climbing the stairs that lead to the elevated métro line (not all of Line 2 is elevated) descends several flights of stairs, before traversing a long, arched circular hallway to enter the station.

Finally, in 1994, the arrival of Eurostar trains required another reorganisation of the rail tracks:

  • Platforms 1 and 2 :: Service platforms, not open to the public.
  • Platforms 3 to 6 :: Terminus of the London Eurostar via the Channel Tunnel.
  • Platforms 7 and 8 :: Thalys platforms for Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
  • Platforms 9 to 29 :: TGV North, Main Line trains, and the Picard TER
  • Platforms 30 to 40 :: Suburban station
  • In the basement, platforms 41 to 44 :: RER station

There is a further construction project to build a connecting hallway between Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, which is projected to open around the time when the new LGV Est begins serving the station.

Security for the station is provided by the French police, the railways police and private security companies. Due to the position of the station as a gateway to the northern suburbs of Paris, there are some parts of the station where security incidents occur from time to time.

The Gare du Nord has served as a backdrop in numerous French films, for instance in Les Poupées Russes.

In US movies, both the exterior and the interior of the Gare du Nord are seen in the 2002 film The Bourne Identity with Matt Damon and again in the trilogy’s finale, The Bourne Ultimatum, released in August 2007. It was also seen in Ocean’s Twelve in 2004, and Mr Bean’s Holiday in 2007.

It is also mentioned in “Polaris” by Jimmy Eat World off their album Futures. In addition, the station was featured in the video for the song “Home” by Blake Shelton.

The station is also mentioned in The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, as well as in The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.


Suggested Hotels

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Tags: 10th, gare de l'est, gare du nord, Republique

One Response to Gares de Paris

  1. Alexander on March 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    It is rare to find advised persons within this matter, nevertheless, you seem like you no doubt know exactly what you are writing on! Cheers


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