Part 2: Did you know that there are six major trains stations in Paris, each serving a specific region of France? Not sure which station takes you to your destination? Here’s a quick overview.
In the 14eme arrondisement towers Gare Montparnasse. Constructed in 1840, it was completely rebuilt in 1969, thus the contemporary façade. The TGV trains service the west and southwest France. Think Rennes, Bordeaux, Nantes.
In the southeastern corner of Paris in the13eme arrondisement on the left bank overlooking the Seine is Gare d’ Austerlitz. Shorter routes toward Orleans and Toulouse depart from here as do the overnight Talgo trains to Barcelona and Madrid, Spain.
Not far from Gare d’Austerlitz on the other side of the Seine in the 12th arrondisement looms the clock tower at Gare de Lyon. Build in 1900 for the World Exposition, Gare de Lyon is the third busiest train station in France. Alas, the divinely ornate Le Train Blue restaurant reigns atop of the staircase overlooking the busy station. Trains depart for the south and French speaking Switzerland at Gare de Lyon. Think Avignon, Lyon, Marseille and Geneva.
If you are taking a trip north to Lille, Calais, Belgium, Germany or the UK, catch your train at the princely station Gare de Nord in the 9th arrondisement. The architecture is redolent of another era. Behold the carefully sculpted statues along the cornice, which represent destinations beyond France. The other fourteen petit statues represent cities in France.
Gare de l’Est, boasting newly designed modern halls, marries domes and architectural tradition with infused light. The station faces Boulevard de Strasbourg in the 10th arrondisement. One of the oldest railways stations in Paris, it serves the Eastern corridor as well as Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland. In 1833, Gare de l’Est saw the first departure of the Orient Express for Istanbul. Think Strasburg, Metz, Warsaw, Berlin and Moscow.
Alas, Gare Sanint-Lazare, the Parisian station that attracted the Impressionist. many lived near the station and painted numerous painting of the station. Edouard Manet painted “Le Chemin de Fer” in 1874, Gustave Caillebotte painted “Le Pont de l”Europe “in 1876, and Claude Monet painted the railway station for an 1887 exhibition. More recently this stunning station has made its way into films. Located on Rue Amsterdam in the 8th arrondisement, it is the second busiest station in Europe. Many intercity or short distance trains depart here, as do trains towards Normandy.
For train travel contact: www.RailEurope.com