Situated near the Gare de l’est, in the 10th arrondissement in Paris, the Gare du Nord is the busiest railway station in Europe and one of the busiest in the world. This station offers the connections to several urban transport lines, but also northern France and even international destinations in Belgium, the Netherlands (Thalys), the United Kingdom (Eurostar), and Germany (TGV). The Gare du Nord was designed in a new neoclassical style in the form of “U”, and it served as a movie set for numerous movies and TV series. In January 1975, the building of the Gare du Nord was listed as a French historical monument.
The first Gare du Nord was inaugurated in 1846, but the station was too small and because of that it was partially demolished in 1860. The construction of the new railway station lasted from 1861 to 1865. The architect Jacques Ignace Hittorff designed it in a new neoclassical style in the form of “U”, with a monumental facade. This facade is decorated with twenty-three statues representing the principal cities served by the Nord railway company and commissioned from thirteen famous sculptors of that time (such as Jean-Louis Jaley and François Jouffroy). The most majestic statues are 5.50 meter high and they illustrate the destinations outside France, such as London, Berlin, Frankfurt, with the ninth figure of Paris in the center. Other fourteen statues represent the northern European cities. They measure only four meters and are positioned lower on the façade. But despite the fact that this is the busiest station in Europe and one of the busiest in the world, the Gare du Nord is suffering from the problems concerning a lack of space and has very bad access. This is the reason why a new project of reconstruction is undertaken by the French authorities.
The Gare du Nord has served as a movie set for many movies and TV series. Did you know that in the movie “Once upon a time in America” from 1984, directed by Sergio Leone, the Gare du Nord was arranged to evoke Grand Central Terminal in New York? Also, the French-British comedy-drama from 2005 “Les Popées Russes” by Céderic Klapisch was filmed here, as well as “The Bourne Identity" with Matt Damon. The Gare du Nord was also seen in "Ocean’s Twelve" from 2004 and "Mr. Bean’s Holiday" in 2007. Several scenes of TV series "Gossip Girl’s" were also filmed here.
Before you catch your train, don’t miss to make a stop at the Etoile du Nord. Located in the heart of the Gare du Nord, this restaurant reinvents the spirit of old-time station buffets in a modern surrounding. On the menu are savory meals served from breakfast to dinner and generous brunch on weekends.
Cover photo © credits to dennisvdw
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