The grand train stations in Paris capture the nostalgic romance of travel. SNCF’s six large mainline terminus stations connect the city to its suburbs, France’s regions and international destinations.
Grand Train Stations in Paris
Their names provide clues to their locations and the regions they serve. All can be reached easily by Metro (subway). Designed to impress, these majestic landmarks are rich in history, architecture and art. Tempting shops, cafés and restaurants provide reasons to linger, with handy services and even free pianos available to play. And naturally, you’ll find stylish Paris Perfect holiday apartments within reach.
Gare du Nord
Dating from 1864, Gare du Nord (Station of the North) lies just north of the city center. The stone façade resembles a triumphal arch, crowned with statues representing Paris and destination cities. Europe’s busiest station serves northern France, including Lille, Boulogne and Calais, plus Paris’ northern suburbs. It’s the hub for Eurostar trains to London, and high-speed Thalys connections to Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne. Take regional express line RER B for Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The station’s cinematic architecture has graced movies Amélie, The Bourne Identity and Ocean’s Twelve. Inside there’s luggage lockers, currency exchange and shops. Art Deco brasserie Terminus Nord beckons outside. Source local produce at historic covered Marché Saint-Quentin nearby. 18 rue de Dunkerque, 75010
Gare de l’Est
Also in the 10th, Gare de l’Est is ten minutes’ walk from Gare du Nord (or take the bus or Metro). One of the largest and oldest train stations in Paris, the elegant 1849 building features lofty sculptures of cities Strasbourg and Verdun. The first Orient Express train for Istanbul left from here in 1883, and the station still hosts the luxe blue-liveried Venice Simplon-Orient-Express trains. A monumental mural by American Albert Herter in the main hall depicts World War I soldiers departing for battle.
Trains connect to eastern France (including Nancy, Strasbourg, Metz and Reims), Germany (Stuttgart and Frankfurt) and Luxembourg, plus Paris’ eastern suburbs. For refueling, head to rooftop bar Le Perchoir de l’Est. Services span boutiques, Marks & Spencer Food, left-luggage and currency exchange. Place du 11 Novembre 1918, 75010
In southwest Paris, the 1840-founded Gare Montparnasse was once called Gare de l’Ouest (Station of the West). The original station was famous for a dramatic 1895 derailment, when a train crashed out through the building, ending up nose down in the street. It was also where Paris’ German military governor surrendered to a French general in August 1944, after disobeying an order from Hitler to destroy the city.
The historic station was replaced in 1969 with today’s modern edifice. Its old adjacent site now houses Tour Montparnasse, offering panoramic views from its 56th-floor observation deck (see our Montparnasse guide). The station’s inter-city TGV Atlantique trains serve Brittany, Bordeaux and southwest France, taking in Chartres, Le Mans, Rennes, Saint-Malo, Nantes, La Rochelle, Biarritz, Lourdes and Toulouse. Transilien line N goes to Versailles-Chantiers station. Facilities include left-luggage, currency exchange and shops (visit chocolatier Jeff de Bruges). Bistro Le Petit Sommelier is nearby. 17 boulevard de Vaugirard, 75015
One of six major train stations in Paris, Gare d’Austerlitz is in the 13th in the city’s southeast. On the Left Bank, beside the Seine, it offers leafy river views. Trains run south to Chateaudun, Vendôme, Tours (handy for the Loire Valley), Orléans, Limoges and Cahors, with connections to Toulouse. Most long-distance services to the southwest now run from Gare Montparnasse, with Austerlitz concentrating more on the southeast. RER C line trains link to Versailles Chantiers and Versailles Château Rive Gauche.
Opened in 1840 and originally called Gare d’Orléans, the station’s current name hails from Napoleon’s 1805 victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. It offers cafés, a pharmacy, newsagents and lockers. Botanical garden Jardin des Plantes is opposite for a picnic. 85 quai d’Austerlitz, 75013
Gare de Lyon
Another of the atmospheric train stations in Paris, Gare de Lyon is on the Right Bank and a short stroll across the Seine from Gare d’Austerlitz. Set in the eastern 12th district, the station was built for the World Exposition of 1900 and boasts classic architecture. The station’s clock tower, akin to Big Ben, is iconic. France’s third busiest station is the northern terminus for the Paris-Marseille railway, with high-speed TGV trains running to France’s southeast often via Lyon. Destinations include Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Cannes, Nice, Antibes, Montpellier, Grenoble, Dijon and Perpignan. International routes link to Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Spain.
The RER A rail line runs from here to Disneyland Paris (exit at Marne-La-Vallée-Chessy). The station hosts famous 1901-founded restaurant/bar Le Train Bleu. On Hall 1’s first floor, it whips up classic French food amid luxurious, heritage surrounds. Services include luggage lockers and charge points. Place Louis Armand, 75012
Opened in 1837 as a simple wooden structure, grand Gare Saint-Lazare is the city’s oldest station, set in the northwestern 8th quarter. Paris’ second-busiest station is the gateway for long-distance Intercitiés trains to verdant Normandy, to the northwest, along the Paris-Le Havre railway. Destinations include Rouen, Caen and Cherbourg. Transiliens trains reach Paris’s western suburbs.
French artist Arman’s towering clock and bronze suitcase sculptures animate the forecourt. Three-level mall St.Lazare Paris in the passenger hall hosts around 75 shops, including Sephora, Lacoste and Petit Bateau, plus food courts. The station is also near Boulevard Haussmann’s famous department stores. Beloved by local Impressionist artists, the station was painted by Manet and Monet. Novelist Émile Zola referenced Gare Saint-Lazare in La Bête Humaine and photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson took an iconic shot here. 13 rue d’Amsterdam, 75008
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