A Huge Renovation for the Gare du Nord in Paris

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A Huge Renovation for the Gare du Nord in Paris
If you take the Eurostar to London, or Thalys to Brussels, you will be familiar with the Paris train station known as the Gare du Nord. Visitors love to complain about this gare (so dreary compared to St Pancras in London!) but we think it gets a bad rap. In fact, the Gare du Nord is the busiest rail station in Europe! Here’s some news that’s music to our ears: By the year 2023, just in time for the Olympic Games, the station will be getting a colossal, 600 million-euro upgrade. SNCF plans to triple the interior spaces, add a separate arrivals/departures area, 1200 bike parking spaces, not to mention a vegetalized rooftop that will cover 7,000 square meters and feature solar panels and a one-kilometer jogging track. Highlights include a new central “street” planted with trees and filled with light. The new departure terminal reinterprets the 19th century, Haussmann-style Parisian passageway with a gallery over 18 meters wide with nearly 300 meters of space to offer a range of services and commercial functions. We can expect a range of new restaurants, many of which will boast rooftop views over the city. Watch this space! The new station will offer a number of sports facilities but definitely the most surprising is the running track featured on the roof, a first in France. Whether this track will be used in the Olympic Games is unsure, but it would be exciting to see 100m sprint final held on a rooftop in Paris! On the subject of the overhaul of Paris’s busiest station, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has stated: “This ambitious redevelopment of the Gare du Nord, supported by the SNCF Group with help from the City of Paris, will meet two objectives: to better welcome visitors while improving the environment of Parisians living in the area. With its cultural sports facilities, its co-working spaces, its shops and its green spaces, the Gare du Nord will become a space for meeting and sharing.” The station is already the first in Europe to see 700,000 passengers every day, but the new developers expect to see that number grow to more than 800,000 people in 2024 and 900,000 in 2030. Perhaps one of the most useful developments is the new Charles De Gaulle Express Line which will connect the airport directly to the Gare de l’Est and the Gare du Nord making travel to the capital much easier for those flying in or out of France. Key Features of the New Gare du Nord For travelers: A new departure terminal to increase ease of travel Improvements of the Eurostar terminal to respond to the tightening of border controls due to Brexit Improvement of accessibility.  The New North Station will offer 55 lifts and 105 escalators. A new entrance on rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis with direct access to the departure terminal. For the area: A European Academy of Culture, a concept imagined by the writer Olivier Guez will utilize 2,000m2 of space with giant screens to showcase digital art. 5,500m2 of co-working space New restaurants with views over the city. 1km race track on the roof. A gym, basketball court and golf courses. For the environment: 7,700 m2 of green space and 3,200 m2 of solar panels. 1200 parking spaces for bikes. Related articles: Solo Travel, Train Stations, and Dining at the Gare du Nord in Paris L’Etoile du Nord: The New Brasserie by Chef Thierry Marx

Lead photo credit : Rendering of the new Gare du Nord. Credit: SNCF Gares & Connexions - Ceetrus - Valode & Pistre Architectes

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  • Michael James
    2018-08-09 22:48:25
    Michael James
    I agree with the author's sentiment. Gare du Nord is highly functional, and testament to that is that without any drama it opened Eurostar service from day one in 1994. By comparison it took the Brits 12 long years to run an actual HSR (High Speed Rail) from Dover into London, due to Thatcher's refusal to spend a dollar on it. Thus for those years, from 1994, the train travelled at close to 300km/h from Paris to Calais but on the other side it slowed to a crawl (well, 160km/h seems like a crawl by comparison) into Waterloo Station. St Pancras didn't open until 2007 and finally took full advantage of HSR to cut the trip from more than 3h to 2h15m. Not only is Gare du Nord the busiest mainline train station in all Europe (214m pax p.a. compared to St Pancras' <40m) but its TGV operations handle HSR from Lille, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, Essen & Dortmund. In addition, and in contrast to London, there are 8 TGV stations in Paris (5 within intramuros Paris and three in the suburbs: CDG Airport; Marne-la-Vallée-Chessy (Disneyland) and Massy). This is to take pressure off the Paris stations and to allow express services bypassing central Paris, not just to Disneyland but the summer London-to-Avignon service etc. In addition, to take pressure off Gare du Nord, two further TGV stations are provisionally planned for Ile de France at Gare-Pleyel-Saint-Denis and La Defense (now Europe's biggest business district, all the easier for those masters-of-finance to zip direct from the City to their Parisian glass towers after Brexit:-). In fact I believe this giant renovation project is to integrate Gare du Nord with the adjoining Gare de l'Est (I believe the roof garden shown in the top photo is actually above the Gare de l'Est?). Small gripe: the future Airport Express that will take over CDG service from RER-B3, will terminate at Gare de l'Est. So you will be forced to change lines there instead of, as today, being able to travel in one ride to the centre (Chatelet-les-Halles; St-Michel-Notre-Dame) or the other 4 RER stations further south within Paris. But one has to accept that all transit is getting busier and that the airport sharing with the suburban services of RER-B, and its single tunnel from Gare du Nord to Chatelet, needs this separation. (The new service won't save much time because the RER-B today is already semi-express and quite speedy.)