Archive for August 13th, 2018

August 13, 2018

Gare Saint Lazare, Paris!

So here I am very nice and cool at 20C or about 71F , when writing this blog post so bear with me oops my porto red is glamorously cool… vacation time is near so what’s the heck!! Life goes on , always with memories never forgotten, but I need to move on for the rest.

I like to tell you today about a train station dear to me. Not your fan of public transport if you followed me but sometimes for one reason or another they are needed. I worked for many years in Paris and my entry point from Versailles rive droite was the Gare Saint Lazare in Paris. Great memories even if some late arrivals due to technical problems on the tracks lol! Anyway this is my rendition on history of this wonderful old train station. Saint Lazare.


I have written a blog post on it before, more on the touristic side, this one is now more historical. My previous post is here:

The Gare Saint-Lazare,  is one of the seven main stations of the SNCF network in Paris. Located in the 8éme arrondissement or neighborhood/quartier of Europe, it is one of the former heads of line of the West network. First station built in Île-de-France region from 1837 and affected mainly since by the commuter traffic, it is the second station of Paris and France by its traffic and the second in Europe.  The station is 32 meters above sea level, in a very dense urban environment. It serve most of Normandy and the western suburbs of Paris, thanks to a wide range of lines extending from Pontoise and Ermont to the north , in Versailles to the south, assuring it a particularly high passenger traffic. The first breakpoint encountered when leaving the Gare Saint Lazare is the Pont-Cardinet station, in  the Paris-Saint-Lazare line at Le Havre served by the trains of the L line of the Transilien. As well as been one of my favorite parking spots on street in Paris!


The Transilien line on Saint Lazare is here:

A bit of history I like.

The history of Gare Saint-Lazare began during the reign of King of the French, Louis-Philippe I in 1837 with the opening of the Paris track to Saint-Germain at that time, a temporary wooden station, the Pier of the West, was built on the Place de l’Europe, in the out of the Batignolles Tunnel, located at the former Tivoli Gardens Park. The line serves then for travelers the current stations of Pont-Cardinet, Clichy-Levallois, Asnières, La Garenne-Colombes, Nanterre-Ville and Le Vésinet-Le Pecq. In 1841, a second temporary station, in masonry covered with a yellow coating, is built on rue de Stockholm, right in front of the Place de l’Europe . The intention of developers Pereire brothers, promoters of this railroad, is to extend the line to the center of Paris until the rue Tronchet!  that leads to the Church of the Madeleine (and my walking beat to work for several years). However,  opposition of the municipality and the owners concerned, the project of the station of La Madeleine is abandoned in 1841. The third station is built  at the corner of  rue d’Amsterdam and Rue Saint-Lazare, which the station takes its name. The work spans a long period of 1842 to 1853.

In 1867, becoming the most important in Paris, Gare Saint-Lazare receives such extensions that one can speak of a fourth station, inaugurated moreover on 2 June, 1867 on the occasion of the Universal exhibition held in Paris, by the Emperor Napoleon III, accompanied by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and Emperor Alexander II of Russia. In the same year, the Europe tunnel was abolished and replaced by a double metal bridge , reconstructed in concrete in 1931. From 1885 to 1889, a major expansion saw the construction of the current façade with two lateral wings at the tracks forming a “U”, and gave the Saint-Lazare station its present physiognomy. In 1885, a decree declares the extension of rue Saint-Lazare to 30 meters on the even numbers side between  rue d’Amsterdam and rue de Londres of public utility. The houses are destroyed and the Hotel Terminus is erected in their place. There are also the two squares that frame it, right in front of the main façade of the station to which it is connected by a walkway covered (now abandoned).  In 1919, the courier’s hall is extended by a second hall going to Boulevard des Batignolles (current parking lot of the Pont de l’Europe).


Although the station is mainly dedicated to commuter traffic, its international vocation has been marked by the existence of transatlantic trains to Le Havre-Maritime and Cherbourg-Maritime, in correspondence with the ships for New York. If the New-York-Express of the transatlantic General company circulated until the withdrawal of France in 1974, the Transatlantique-Express of the Cunard Line (for passengers of Queen Elizabeth 2, later Queen Mary 2), continues to circulate, even if the station Maritime (now called the Cite de la Mer) is no longer directly served. As for the Paris-Saint-Lazare-Dieppe-Maritime boat trains, in liaison with the ships to England, they circulated until 1994, replaced by the Eurostar service. Passengers to Ireland by boat continue to take the Paris-Le Havre trains.

A shopping arcade is created in 1974 in the basement of the Galerie des Pas Perdu , the general Tele display is installed, and escalators are set up towards the road to facilitate the correspondence with the Metro, in particular with the line 13 extended in 1976 to the south of Paris . In 1972, the line of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, integrated in the RER A line is transferred to the RATP and leads to the new underground station of  rue Auber  in the neighborhood  of  Chaussée d’Antin, located about 500 meters. Still with the Connection of the Cergy line, opened in March 1979, the RER A on  May 1988, followed by the Poissy line in 1989. The Gare Saint-Lazare has 27 lanes and is in correspondence with several urban transport lines (Metro, bus and RER).


Its attendance continues to increase, especially due to the new link Ermont-Saint-Lazare, to the point of claiming, according to the SNCF, the second place in Europe behind the station of Paris-Nord for its volume of trafic. From 2003 to 2007, the station’s work concentrated on the space of the Transverse wharf, a waiting area which gives access to the 27 tracks of the station. The work of the sector passage and cours d’Amsterdam, initiated in 2006 and completed in 2008, consisted of a widening of the existing passage towards the cours d’Amsterdam, leading to the rue d’Amsterdam, with the creation of a real secondary entrance on this axis. From 2009 to 2012, the most important phase of the work is underway; it has as its object the modernization of the heart of the station with the transformation of the old Galerie des pas Perdu (Hall of lost steps) in a shopping center Saint Lazare on three levels along the 194 meters long Hall (213 meters in front), the creation of an underground parking lot and the creation of simpler connections with the metro. End of 2009, the bunker of WWII, implanted in the first basement facing the tracks 4 and 5 at the back of the old shopping arcade was destroyed, because its presence was incompatible with the facilities retained. The new Saint-Lazare train station was inaugurated on March 21, 2012. The Galerie des pas Perdu  has now become a skylight thanks to the development of the canopy and the arrangement of the new eighty boutiques spread over three levels; It is equipped with 20 escalators, 300 information screens and a new acoustic comfort. Thus, the passenger traffic was fluidized and a waiting room was opened. The final component of the Saint-Lazare project is the renovation from May 2013 until the beginning of 2014 of the two courtyards Rome and Havre (cour de Rome and cour du Havre), and that of the inner street, between the main building and the Hilton Paris Opéra Hotel.

The 27 tracks of the station are assigned in the following way:

1-4 (group II): Versailles-Rive-Droite and Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche;

5 to 8 (group III): Nanterre-University, Maisons-Laffitte and Cergy-le-Haut;

9 to 12 (groups IV and VI): Ermont-Eaubonne, Cormeilles-en-Parisis;

13 to 17 (group V): Mantes (by Poissy), Evreux, Vernon;

18 to 27: Departures and arrivals outlines, tracks 26 and 27 also used for the trains of group VI towards Mantes (by Conflans-St. Honorine), Pontoise and Gisors.   Info SNCF on the train station link below.

Regional lines on Saint Lazare are here on the TER train page:

Some of the goodies here in addtion to many other is the opening last September 2013 of the Restaurant Lazare by star Chef  Éric Fréchon  that you can access from the shopping center and the inner street (rue Intérieure). Super good!!! More here:

Some of the artsy things that happened here were :

In 1877, Claude Monet left Argenteuil for Paris, and the painter asked for permission to work in the Gare Saint-Lazare, close to his home. He finds inspiration in the modernity and mobility of the subject, its changing brightness, and the vapor clouds. He produced a series of twelve paintings from various viewpoints, including views of the vast hall, where he focused more on light and color effects than on a detailed description of the railway universe.

Since 1985, two works of art “accumulations” of the French painter and sculptor Arman, five-meters highs, were placed in the two courtyards of the station: Consigne à vie ( a life-time deposit), representing a stack of suitcases, in the cour de Rome and the time for all, representing a stacking of pendulums(clocks), in the cour du Havre.


There is now a great shopping center  Saint Lazare in the train station, superb, we went from Morbihan there just to see the opening! The webpage for the shopping mall is here:


In the cinema, La Bête humaine (the Human Beast), a French film of 1938 adapted from the eponymous novel by Émile Zola and directed by Jean Renoir, takes place in part in the Gare de Paris-Saint-Lazare and its surroundings.

The station also appears in the songs: at Gare Saint-Lazare (lyrics by Pierre Delanoë, music by Renard Jean, new editions Meridian, released at Polydor in 1962), which is interpreted by Colette Deréal, it is practically entirely dedicated, to the station even it is only fleetingly quoted in the song. Vesoul, written, composed and performed by Jacques Brel in 1968. We can also cite Snack-bar Gare Saint-Lazare, which dates from 1956 (lyrics by Boris Vian and Geo Dorlis, music by Louiguy).

What are the transports here, plenty.

The Gare Saint-Lazare is served by the RER E line on the RER A in case of a breakdown of interconnection in Nanterre-prefecture, the trains destined for Cergy-le-Haut were terminus and origin Paris-Saint-Lazare, joining the normal route from Houilles-Carriéres-sur-Seine.

The Saint-Lazare metro station is on Lines 3, 12, 13 and 14. A corridor connects Saint-Augustin station from line 9 to Saint-Lazare station on line 14 and, as a result, to Gare Saint-Lazare. It is possible to reach the Opéra station from Saint-Augustin and Saint-Lazare by going to the RER E quays and then taking the corridors leading to the Metro lines 7 and 8 at the Opéra station and at the Auber station of the RER A.

The station is served by Bus lines 20, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 43, 53, 66, 80, 81, 94, 95 and 528 of the RATP bus network and, at night, by the lines N01, N02, 15, 16, 51, N52, N53, N150, N151, N152 , N153 and N154 of the Noctilien network.


Always the useful Paris tourist office on Saint Lazare: Tourist office of Paris on Saint Lazare

There you go folks, a memorable Saint Lazare train station indeed, full of nice souvenirs and good cheers. Enjoy Paris but do check ahead for strikes, yikes!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


August 13, 2018

Gare du Nord, Paris!

At the time of writing this post in my blog, we were fully into Summer ! Plenty of hot weather in August around my belle France rising as much as 37C in the south, while we were at 33C in sunny Morbihan Breton! This is hot but it is ,also, a time to say farewell to collegues who take vacation earlier. And now we are at 22C lol! cool Brittany!

While, I will tell you a bit about one of the train stations in Paris, and one used often by me on my trips to London, Brussels, and Amsterdam for business. I have gone to all those cities by car with the family as well. Like my life in splits , business on trains/pleasure by car!

Oh yes , written posts on transportation in Paris but not on this train station in specific, talking about the Gare du Nord. The North station or Paris-Nord. My first encounter with it was circa 2011 on a business trip to Olen near Anvers! I went from Nord to Midi in Brussels where tired of the train rented a car to get to Olen!.


A bit of history I like:

The Gare du Nord station as we know it was opened to the public on April 19, 1864, in the 10éme arrondissement of Paris. It replaces a first station, inaugurated on 14 June 1846, a pier of the north railway  which was then the second Parisian station after Saint-Lazare. The line was opened with the Northern Railway Company  on the north line to LIlle, it covered 12 000m ² and serves only two lanes, one for arrivals, the other for departures;  the structure of the building remained  almost  the same today. The large Universal exhibitions of 1854, 1889 and 1900 have been opportunities for expansion work, which are also needed by the strong growth of its attendance. For the 1889 and 1900 Universal exhibitions, the number of  tracks increased from 13 to 18.

The most notable changes were  in  1906, with the arrival of the Metro (line 4); In the years 1950 and 1960, with the electrification of the tracks, between 1977 and 1983, with the titanic site of the underground station dedicated to the suburbs, in 1993 and 1994, with the arrival of high speed train with the TGV Nord and the Eurostar. June 1996: Commissioning of the Thalys, connecting Paris with Amsterdam via Brussels; 12 July 1999: Inauguration of the E line of the RER and the station of Magenta; 1998 to 2002: Operation Gare du Nord station exchanges. The Gare du Nord , also known as the Paris-Nord, is the Parisian head of the railway network serving the north of France, as well as the neighboring countries. Because of the proximity of Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany, it has always possessed a marked international vocation, before its regional traffic has developed strongly.

It is, with an endowment of thirty-two lanes at the quays  since 1993, of which four underground, the station Gare du Nord occupies, in France, the first place in traffic. On this set, from west to east, track 2 (track 1 has been removed) is located between the Post Office building and the Eurostar-controlled area, four customs lanes reserved for the Eurostar service, 15 lanes for Thalys services, main lines ( TGV and Intercité) and TER Hauts-de-France, seven lanes for services in the northern suburbs of Île-de-France (line H and line K of the Transilien Network), and under the latter a underground station consisting of four lanes used by the traffic of lines B and D of the RER. The trench extending north of the establishment has fourteen lanes, four of which are destined for suburban traffic alone. There are four underground lanes under the latter, heading towards the underground station and beyond, to the interconnected lines of the suburbs, apart from Japan is the world’s first station in terms of traffic. And now you need good directions to get thru ::)

A note for those tourists: The Gare du Nord station serves the northern suburbs of Paris, which concentrates an important part of the social difficulties of the region. Due to its large attendance and the social geography of the suburbs served, it has regularly become the scene of various clashes. A word to the wise, be careful especially if traveling at night and especially on the periphery of the station.

Now let me tell you a bit on the architecture.

The Roman-inspired façade is organized around a central pavilion forming a triumphal arch framed by two smaller pavilions. It is characterized by the use of large blocks of stone. The façade is adorned with twenty-three statues ordered from thirteen eminent sculptors of the time, representing the main cities served by the company the most majestic statues, which crown the building, are 5.50 meters high are of international renown. National destinations, represented by statues placed on the facade and less high, of only 4 meters. The statue of Paris, naturally is at the summit top of the façade.

And about all those transport options here

Transports by here are the metro station Gare du Nord, where lines 4 and 5 pass, which also serve the Paris-East (Gare de l’Est station.  Since the1990’s, a connecting corridor connects the underground station to the metro station La Chapelle of line 2. On the surface and in the bus station you can find the buses: Lines 26, 30, 31, 35, 38, 39, 42, 43, 46, 48, 54, 56, 65, 302, 350 and the OpenTour tourist line of the RATP bus network; and the lines N01, N02, 14, N43, N44, N140 and N143 of the Noctilien night time network.



And places to eat and wait inside the station.

The station’s Buffet is the renowned restaurant at the station, the hotel Terminus-Nord, facing the station, and its 1925 Art Deco-style restaurant have been renovated for the arrival of the Eurostar. The Exki by the Eurostar area. By the Rue Dunkerque Le Zinc du Nord. Le Fournil, located at level /niveau 0 ,the unmissable premises stands within a striking glass structure, near access to quays  30/36, and next to the ticket office of the Transilien regional train network.  A new buffet, the L’Etoile du Nord (named after the famous Express Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam), operated by the chef Thierry Marx, near the track 19, is opened since  2016. Wonderful place indeed. More here L’Etoile du Nord

Some artsy things inside the Gare du Nord

Several works of literature have as a setting this station as well as several films were shot at the station. A couple I remember are the   2001: The Fabulous Fate of Amélie Poulard of Jean-Pierre Jeunet; and the  2004: Ocean Twelve by Steven Soderbergh. Some scenes from the police television series Quai n ° 1, aired on French TV channel F2  between 1997 and 2006, were shot in the station. As well coming up in several older songs.

New things will and are happening in the Gare du Nord, ready for the Olympics 2024 and UK Brexit. Here are the latest.

The Gare du Nord station will triple in volume by 2023, from the perspective of the 2024 Olympics. And, world premiere, a 1 km trail will be installed on its rooftops for the benefit of all athletes. It was with the Auchan Group (Ceetrus) that the railway company finally chose to do the work for  600 million euros   invested to transform the station, by 2023. In the long run, the SNCF will only be a minority shareholder, while Ceetrus will be the majority shareholder for a period of 46 years. Remember that the Gare du Nord station is already the largest station in Europe. And it is not likely to lose its title since its surface will go from 36 000 m² to 110 000 m², i.e. a multiplication of spaces for travelers.

It will be first of all, the creation of a single entrance, large loggia open on the forecourt, to the east of the historic station which gives access to an inner hall  of 300 meters long covered by a canopy. This path of light crosses the new building, guiding users to the departures of all destinations and serves the new activities, commercial, cultural, sporting and co-working. Existing surfaces are quintuplets. The interior façade of the Great Hall designed by Jacques-Ignace Hittorff in the 19C has been restored to its original state and becomes a masterful element of reception for travelers of the European main lines. A new departure terminal will be built and significantly increase the station. Thus the arrival and departure of the station will be distinct and improve the flow. The construction of footbridges above the existing lanes will allow the movement of those who leave while the arrivals leave the station by the quays. An expansion of the Eurostar terminal will also better meet the challenge of strengthening customs controls related to Brexit. If the original hall will overall remain the same, the entrance Transilien, with its glass walls, will be deeply transformed. This entry will indeed become a central “street” in the station, surmounted by a transparent roof, a passage of more than 300 meters by 18 meters wide, from where it should be easy to access the various quays: Eurostar, TGV, RER and Transilien. The station will be beautiful with a new façade, on the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis and direct access to the departure terminal.

The above work translated by yours truly from the city of Paris. More at the source the City of Paris webpage:

Some webpages to help you plan your trip around this train station are

Official SNCF site in French on the Gare du Nord :

Transilien regional ile de France trains in English on gare du nord :

In French but a practical simpler guide to the Gare du Nord :

In English a practical guide to the Gare du Nord:

You are now set to go, the Northern encounter to France is ready and will be even better soon. Enjoy the trip!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: