Situated near the iconic Canal Saint Martin, and the Couvent des Récollets, the Gare de l’Est is one of the largest and oldest Parisian railway stations. This “East railway station”, opened in 1849 by the Paris-Strasbourg Railway Company and under the name “Strasbourg platform”, has been considered the most beautiful in the world by its aesthetics and its technical qualities. The first departures of the Orient Express for Istanbul started from this railway station in 1883. Since 1984, the facades and roofs of the Gare de l’est, as well as the two arrival and departure halls, have been listed as French historical monuments. And above the train station, you will find the most secret Parisian bar – Le Perchoir de l’est.
French architect Alexandre Duquesney and engineer Pierre Cabanel de Sermet constructed the Gare de l’est in 1849. Inaugurated by the Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (future Napoléon III), this railway station named “Strasbourg platform” will change the name into the Gare de l’Est in 1854. During the two World Wars, this station has become an important place for the great mobilization of the French military troops. In the main hall of the Gare de l’Est, you can spot a monumental painting “Le Depart des poilus, aout 1914” (Departure of the Infantrymen, August 1914) that measures 12 by 5 meters, made by an American artist Albert Herter. The mural illustrating the departure of soldiers for the Western front was donated by the artist to the people of France, and it was unveiled in the departure hall at the Gare de l'Est on 8 June 1926.
The facade of the west wing of the Gare de l’Est is decorated with a half-rose window and a clock surrounded by the sculptures representing the Seine and the Rhine, as well as an allegorical statue of the city of Strasbourg. The facade of the east wing was built in 1931. It is decorated with a clock surrounded by two statues representing the Marne and the Meuse, as well as an allegorical statue of the city of Verdun. The beautiful and elegant architecture of this railway station was used as a decor for many movies. Among others, Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (In English: The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain) by Jean-Pierre Jeunet in 2001 was filmed here.
Above the Gare de l’Est train station, you will find the most secret Parisian bar – Le Perchoir de l’est. This mythical 400 meters-square rooftop, situated under the Eiffel rose window, is a large terrace bar and a restaurant. This charming place created in the neo-industrial style has large wooden tables, and the atmosphere is very relaxed. The bar is closed during winter.
Cover photo © Marc Bruxelle
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