Travel

What to Expect When Traveling Through Gare du Nord

4 Mins read

The Gare du Nord is one of the most legendary railroad stations in the world. Heading to Brussels? How about London or Frankfurt? Trains that run through the Gare du Nord can take you all over France and northern Europe.

This station is extremely busy. In fact, it is the busiest one on the entire continent. Every day, about 700,000 people pass through the facility, some traveling far and some nearby.

Services available at the Gare du Nord include the Metro, the RER (Regional Express Railway), Eurostar, and hundreds of high-speed trains. You can find this station in the 10th Arrondissement of Paris. 

People also visit this station for its elegant aesthetic. Outside, the 19th-century mammoth iron-and-glass structure is bordered by a classical facade. The design is finished with statues symbolizing different locations from Calais to Arras.

If you’re planning on traveling to France or any other country in northern Europe, it is worthwhile to read up on the Gare du Nord. The station can be a bit of a maze, especially if you are a tourist.

One valuable tip is to find luggage storage in Gare du Nord, so you don’t have to lug around your belongings everywhere you go. This way, you can explore everything the station has to offer comfort. If you’re going on a day trip, you can also leave your luggage at the station and pick it up when you return.

This is the oldest train station in France. It is also the most famous. Make sure you have a game plan when you get to the station, so you can maximize your time. Before you travel through Gare du Nord, here is a list of what to expect!

The High-Speed Eurostar

It is no surprise that the Gare du Nord attracts so many travelers. It provides connections to some of the biggest centers in Europe such as Cologne and Brussels.

The most notable of the high-speed trains terminating at Gare du Nord is the Eurostar. This train offers direct, fast access to London, making it one of the busier trains at the station. Through the Channel Tunnel,  passengers can travel in comfort and get to London within two hours.

Other high-speed train destinations at Gare du Nord include London, Amiens, Lille, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, and Essen.

Exploring Paris

As we alluded to, Gare du Nord also offers multiple connections to the RER urban trains. To get to Charles de Gaulle airport in less than a half-hour, you can take the RER Line B. This line also goes to Orly airport.

Another popular destination is Gare de Lyon. To get to this station, take line D. If you’re looking to catch a football match at Stade de France, both lines B and D can bring you there.

For the Paris Metro, Gare du Nord provides routes directly to Lines 4 and 5. Line 2 is also just a 5-10 minute walk away. There is also Bus 65, which connects to Gare de Lyon, Gare St Lazare, and Gare de l’Est.

Places to Shop

Besides connecting travelers to some of the most prominent locations in northern Europe, Gare du Nord also offers a number of shopping options.

With how many people travel through this station every day, it only makes sense that vendors would try and take advantage of this foot traffic. There is a wide selection of stores available from chocolatiers, to fashion outlets, to grocers, and wine and cheese shops.

If you consider yourself a chocolate lover, head over to shops by Jeff de Bruges and Le Chocolate by Alain Ducasse. Keep in mind though that you can only get to Ducasse’s shop if you are going to London on the Eurostar.

If you go to Gare du Nord, you should try to arrive at the station a little early so you can explore the shops. There truly is something for everybody here.

A Brief History

The Gare du Nord has continually expanded in its extensive history. In the mid-19th century, train travel was becoming so popular in Europe, that by the time the original Gare on this site was completed in 1846, it was already time to expand.

By 1860, major renovations for the station were underway. The facade of the previous station was dismantled and shipped to Lille while the rest of it was destroyed.

The new design featured a triumphal arch. The primary cast-iron support beam comes from Glasgow. This was the place that had a foundry large enough for the task.

The original 1860 blueprint had a monumental boulevard leading to Gare du Nord, cutting a path through the maze of ancient streets (courtesy of Baron Haussmann), but that never ended up being built.

Since then, the station has continued to change over the years. In 1884, the station built more tracks. In 1889, the interior was torn down and built again. Then, in every decade of the 20th century, the interior would be renovated also.

In 1994, Eurostar opened its high-speed train service between London and Paris, which called for further changes. Now, at night, the Gare du Nord’s neoclassical exterior lights up, creating a sparkle effect. It really adds some flair to this otherwise mundane district of Paris.

2024 Olympic Games

Despite how busy this station is, it is about to get even busier. This is because Paris plans on hosting the 2024 Olympic Games, which has forced the city to start renovating the Gare du Nord once again. This time, it will triple in size.

According to the city, the goal of this renovation is to “transform the station into an urban complex” and turn it into a leading example of “a new type of gare for the 21st century.” As a result, the largest European train station ever will increase in size from 36,000 square meters to 110,000 meters. The new layout of the building will also include a one-kilometer-long trail for athletes to use.

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