The train stations of Paris and how to get around them!!!

Let me update this one, I guess very important for visitors. And even if I like the roads and a road warrior I have taken trains in the USA, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands. So therefore, not an expert but an user; let me tell you about the train stations in Paris briefly in my black and white series as individual posts and pictures elsewhere in my blog.

I wrote on getting public transports in the Paris area and even Bretagne (see posts). Going to the airports etc; but what about the train stations? So many go by them, they are one of the most used in Europe!! And Paris Nord or gare du Nord is tops in Europe! So, therefore ,why not telling you a bit on them even if always in a general view as there can be so many options, you are free to ask me for details.

Of course, bien sûr   , I have to tell you a bit of history as well. Heck, these train stations all have a story of their own. Sorry, can’t tell you the whole story, too long a history but at least a bit…ok.

No particular order of liking; let’s start with the venerable Gare du Nord or popularly call Paris-Nord.

The company that created the station was call the Compagnie des Chemins de fer du Nord, therefore the Gare du Nord in 1846.  The current building dates from 1864. It handles the intercités trains to the North of France ; the Thalys towards Belgium, Nethersland , Germany (with connections to Scandinavia, Poland, and Russia ; the ever popular Eurostar towards London ; the TGV Nord line to  Lille and the main Northern towns  ; the suburbian trains north of Paris such as lines ligne H and K of the Transilien ; TER Picardie ; and stops of the lines RER B and D ; and close to the station of  Magenta on the RER E line. As said , it is Europe’s busiest train station. The current building has  nine statues crowning the rooftop facade, each representing destinations outside France, with the figure of Paris in the center.  There are 14 more modest statues lower down, representing French regional cities. There is a huge project to renovate the train station and already approved. the departure terminal side should be ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and the rest by 2025.

The official SNCF Gare du Nord: https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frpno/paris-gare-du-nord

The official oui SNCF Gare du Nord webpage with connection info: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/paris/paris-gare-du-nord

The official Transilien webpage on Gare du Nord: https://www.transilien.com/fr/gare/paris-gare-du-nord-8727103

And we are just starting, moving on to the Gare de l’Est (my first ever station visited in France as from my wife town of Meaux (77) came into Paris).  The company was created as the Compagnie des chemins de fer de l’Est , therefore, the Gare de l’Est in 1849. It handles the traffic from to the East of France, Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.  Night trains to Munich and connections to Vienna, Budapest, as well as Innsbruck, Hambourg, and Berlin. Also ,the Moscow express trans-european to Minsk and Moscow ;Venice Simplon-Orient-Express : luxury train to the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, the Balkans, Istanbul and the suburbian trains of the east of Paris such as the line P of the Transilien; near stop at the station of Magenta on the line RER E . There was talk about a future terminal of the  CDG Express towards the  Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport but this is on hold due to permits and noise issues of the ecolos. The Gare de l’Est is just about a five minute walk to the Gare du Nord; its  main claim to fame is being home to the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, until its decline and closure. The Murder on the Orient Express or the Venice-Simplon Orient Express is the one Christie wrote about. In the platform of the long big lines there is a monumental painting call , Le Départ des poilus, août 1914, offered by the American painter Albert Herter as a memory to his son killed in front of 1918 near Château-Thierry (Aisne dept 02) shown here since 1926. It was taken down for renovation but back in its place since 2008.

The official SNCF webpage on Gare de l’Est: https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frpst/paris-est

The official Oui SNCF webpage on Gare de l’Est with connection info: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/paris/paris-est

The regional Transilien webpage on Gare de l’Est: https://www.transilien.com/fr/gare/8711300

And we are stepping up to the Gare de Lyon: The company was created as the Compagnie des chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée (PLM) in 1849; therefore, call the Gare de Lyon. It does the TGV trains to the Franche-Comté region and the south of Alsace connecting with the LGV Rhin-Rhône. Also, the trains to the south of France and the Languedoc-Roussillon area; the TGV to Switzerland (myself do the runs on lyria), Spain, and Italy.The TGV Sud-Est, Rhône-Alpes and Mediterranean, the night train Thello to Italy, suburbian southeast trains of Paris, the arrival point for the line R of the Transilien; the stops of the RER A and D. The train station was built for the World Exposition of 1900 and was regarded as one of the finest examples of architecture of its era. Its clock tower ,of 67 meters high; modeled after that of London’s Houses of Parliament,home of Big Ben. I believe it is the prettiest in Paris. It’s also home to one of the city’s most famous restaurants, the Le Train Bleu opened in 1901 with a grand decor to rival the palace of Versailles; painted ceilings, gold leaf and shimmering chandeliers hint of the gilded prices on the menu. Just below is the Montreux Jazz Café, much cheaper and arguably more fun. Between July and August this is one of Paris’s busiest station, with families leaving for the south of France.

The official SNCF webpage for the Gare de Lyon: https://www.gares-sncf.com/fr/gare/frply/paris-gare-lyon

The official Oui SNCF of the Gare de Lyon with connection info: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/paris/paris-gare-de-lyon

The official regional Transilien on the Gare de Lyon: https://www.transilien.com/fr/gare/paris-gare-de-lyon-8768603

Moving right along to the lesser known gare d’Austerlitz. This was created as the Compagnie du Chemin de fer de Paris à Orléans (PO) in 1840 as the gare d’Orléans located in the quai d’Austerlitz of which later it took its name to the Gare d’Austerlitz; after France greatest victory during the Battle of Austerlitz by Napoleon. The PO folks decided to extend the line to the center of the capital city and the gare d’Orsay was opened in 1900; unused from the Second World War and transformed in a museum in 1986:Musée d’Orsay; we come to know and love.  The only operating station beside the Seine, Gare d’Austerlitz offers great views across the river, and is one of only two stations on the Rive Gauche, the left bank. On the quayside, the turquoise metal entrance from the Metro bridge into the station offers a contrast to the old stone building, and features a statue representing the destination of Orleans.  The trains to towards the center of France, Toulouse, pyrénées and all night trains of the Intercités network towards the south of France ; Also, Intercités towards Orléans ,and Tours ; The TER Centre-Val de Loire network towards  Vendôme and Orléans ; Stopping point of the line RER C in Paris.

The official SNCF on the gare d’Austerlitz: https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frpaz/paris-austerlitz

The official Oui SNCF on the Gare d’Austerlitz with connection info: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/paris/paris-austerlitz

The official regional Transilien on the Gare d’Austerlitz: https://www.transilien.com/fr/gare/paris-austerlitz-8754702

Next we come to my neighborhoods; the company created was the Compagnie des chemin de fer de l’Ouest , purchased in 1908 by the Administration des Chemins de fer de l’Etat that serves the two lines to Versailles,one on the right bank or rive droite,the other the left bank or rive gauche-Château, and that explains why there are two additional stations in Paris.

The gare Saint-Lazare head of the line Paris-Saint-Lazare-Saint-Germain-en-Laye and the line Paris-Saint-Lazare-Versailles-Rive-Droite (rue du maréchal Foch, closest to my old home) .  This line serves the trains to Normandie, suburbian trains of the Paris west, line J of the Transilien, connection by a passageway to the gare Haussmann-Saint-Lazare terminus of the RER E. The station is in the heart of Paris, close by the Place de la Madeleine, Opéra Garnier, and the city’s grand department stores, this is the capital second busiest station! When it opened as a simple wooden structure in 1837 it was the first train station in Paris, but the terminus was soon expanded into its current form. These days it’s largely a commuter terminus,  but it was once the hub for glamorous ocean liner traffic arriving via Cherbourg.  Travel-inspired artwork — a teetering pile of bronze suitcases, a stack of clocks — live in the main square in front of the entrance. An enclosed walkway, La Galerie Marie Antoinette, connects the station with the old world splendor of the Hilton Paris Opera Hotel. As well as a great shopping arcade centre commerciale St Lazare! Wonderful!

The official SNCF webpage on the Gare Saint Lazare: https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frpsl/paris-saint-lazare

The official Oui SNCF webpage on the Gare Saint Lazare with connection info: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/paris/paris-saint-lazare

The regional Transilien on the gare Saint Lazare: https://www.transilien.com/fr/gare/paris-saint-lazare-8738400

The other that I used now the most coming from the Morbihan, Bretagne is the Gare Montparnasse ,head of the line Paris-Versailles on the Versailles Chantier station, Rue de l’Abbé Rousseau ,and Paris-Brest.  This station serves the south express to Lisbon, TGV Atlantique (west and southwest of France so like Bretagne) TER Normandie, Intercités network line Paris-Vaugirard to Granville via Argentan; TER Centre -Val-de-Loire on the line Paris to Le Mans via Chartres; line N of the Transilien serving the suburbs west of Paris. It is a very nice modern glass and steel facade station, you’d be hard pushed to believe it was originally opened in 1840 as Gare de l’Ouest (west). With correspondance with the TGV at Hendaye you can go to Spain by Irun, San Sebastian and Madrid. Also to Portugal with the connection with the Sud-Express train. The original building was torn down in 1969 to make way for the 59-story Tour Montparnasse, one of Paris’s least loved buildings.  The views from the top are said to be the best in Paris ; the popular joke being that it’s the only spot from which the tower itself cannot be viewed! In the basement there is the Chapelle Saint Bernard de Montparnasse as well in the roof the Jardin Atlantique.

The official SNCF webpage on the Gare Montparnasse: https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frpmo/paris-montparnasse

the Oui SNCF webpage on the Gare Montparnasse with connection info: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/paris/paris-montparnasse

The regional Transilien webpage on the gare Montparnasse: https://www.transilien.com/fr/gare/paris-montparnasse-8739100

The seldom used (at least by me) Gare de Bercy  now with new name, gare de Paris-Bercy-Bourgogne-Pays d’Auvergne,  has trains Intercités goings towards Auvergne,TER Bourgogne, TER Centre-Val de Loire. Also, not regular lines but serve the Pullman Orient Express. The station opened in 1977), and is, also, the smallest and the one located in the least glamorous area. Following the closure of the Tolbiac terminal, the Bercy station recovered the coaches of the SNCF South-West network. Then, with the launch of the iDBUS coach service by SNCF, Paris-Bercy finds international destinations like London, Brussels and Amsterdam, Turin and Milan. However, since January 7, 2019, the stopping point for these coaches, until then located in the immediate vicinity of the train station, has been moved to the Bercy-Seine bus station ,which access requires crossing the park of Bercy; the latter is also served by other coach operators.

The Official SNCF webpage for the now Gare de Paris-Bercy-Bourgogne-Pays d’Auvergne: https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frpbe/paris-bercy-bourgogne-pays-dauvergne

The official Oui SNCF webpage for the Gare de Paris-Bercy-Bourgogne-Pays d’Auvergne with connection info: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/paris/paris-bercy-bourgogne-pays-d-auvergne

The official regional Transilien on the Gare de Paris-Bercy-Bourgogne-Pays d’Auvergne: https://www.transilien.com/fr/gare/paris-bercy-bourgogne-pays-d-auvergne-8768666

There is a good service in English put out by the SNCF the webpage is here with plenty of information: https://en.oui.sncf/en/destination/france/paris-region/paris

Of course, the Paris tourist office has a good layout in English on the main stations here with additional good information: https://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/themed-guides/Paris-a-fabulous-heritage/paris-monuments/paris-train-stations-19th-century-architectural-heritage

Two other popular stations that even thus not inside Paris are use regularly by many and of course many visitors; these are the Disneyland Marne-La-Vallée-Chessy station and the Roissy CDG Airport T2 station for the TGV.

Marne La Vallée Chessy station is a purpose-built train station sitting right outside the gates of Disneyland Resort Paris. Marne La Vallée Chessy station welcomes Eurostar trains from the UK to Disneyland Resort Paris. Plus you can catch high-speed TGV trains from the station for journeys across France and beyond. Marne La Vallée Chessy station opened in 1994, two years after Disneyland Resort Paris. It is a smallish station, housing three platforms and five high-speed tracks. Automatic Left Luggage from 07h-22h ; Monday-Sunday & Holidays. Luggage trolleys are also available inside the station. There is a foreign exchange in the station. Disabled facilities: 07h-22h30 Monday-Sunday &  Holidays; at the Welcome Desk;  You should turn up to the reception 30 minutes before your train leaves if you need assistance boarding. Wheelchairs and boarding ramps are also available if required.. You can You can come to the station by RER A best in Paris by etoile CDG or Arc de Triomphe and Auber by the big dept stores. By bus:Disney operates a free shuttle service from the station to all the Disney hotels. By taxi: You can catch a cab at Place des Passagers des Vents in front of the station. On foot: The station is just by the entrance to Disney Village and the resort. And yes we have visited the Resort by train as well!!!

The official SNCF webpage on the Marne-la-Vallée-Chessy: https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frmlv/marne-vallee-chessy

The official Oui SNCF webpage on the Marne-la-Vallée-Chessy with connection info: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/marne-la-vallee-chessy

The regional Transilien on RER A to Marne-la-Vallée-Chessy: https://www.transilien.com/lignes/rer-trains/rer-A

The Roissy CDG Airport station at Terminal  2 TGV  serves both TGV trains and  the RER B line rapid transit system. RER B connects to central Paris, calling at Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est on the way. TGV trains from the station run to many destinations, including Bordeaux, Brussels, Lille, Lyon, Marseilles, Nantes (where I have taken several times, as well as from Vannes), Perpignan, Rennes and Toulouse.  Aéroport CDG Terminal 1 is the next stop on RER B ; the CDGVAL monorail train runs between the terminals as well as shuttle buses. At Paris CDG Terminal  2 , you can securely deposit your baggage at the central lockers located at the CDGVAL station’s exit, near the RER B train station. This service is available 7 days a week, from 6h to 21h30. You can get to the CDG T2 TGV station by Taxi: Go to Level 5 and use the ‘south/sud’ exit. A taxi between central Paris and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) takes about 45 minutes. Cost is around 50-60 euros depends on number of people, luggage and time of day. Roissybus service runs between the three airport terminals and rue Scribe behind the Opéra Garnier. Between 06h and 22.30, shuttles run every 15 minutes and take approximately 45-60 minutes. By Train: RER line B trains run every 8-15 minutes between the airport and central Paris, with a journey time of around 35 minutes, prices change in July and sometimes January so check the official sites of RATP for updates.

The official SNCF webpage for the CDG T2 airport stop of TGV: https://www.garesetconnexions.sncf/fr/gare/frmlw/aeroport-charles-gaulle-2-tgv

The official Oui SNCF webpage on the CDG T2 Airport station with connection info: https://www.oui.sncf/gares/aeroport-charles-de-gaulle-2-tgv

The official regional Transilien on the RER B airport service: https://www.transilien.com/lignes/rer-trains/rer-B

For moving in Paris and to the sites above the Paris transport site is RATP with itineraires: https://www.ratp.fr/en/itineraires

And let’s see , there are connection between all train stations in Paris. Generally, they are all mention on this official webpage: https://www.oui.sncf/aide/correspondances-depuis-gare-montparnasse

From the airport, see my previous post on travel from to airports of the Paris region. Hope it helps your quest to come and enjoy Paris and its region île-de-France a lot better. Again any questions, ask me.

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

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