Châtelet - Les Halles
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So that it would blend into this swanky area, the Orsay station architect, Victor Laloux, concealed the metallic structure behind a more classic stone facade, that doesn’t conflict with the Louvre and the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur. Inaugurated on the 14th of July, 1900 for the Universal Exposition, later to become an empty shell with the end of the suburb trains in 1958, the station was threatened with demolition before being saved by Valery Giscard d'Estaing and transformed into a museum. As for the underground lines, they were renovated for reuse starting in 1979 and now the Gare d’Orsay is a station on the RER line C.
The Gare du Nord (North Station) is indeed monumental. With its 700,000 users and more than 2,000 trains daily, it is, not counting Japan, the first train station in the world in terms of traffic (262 million travellers in 2015). Leaving and arriving at this station you have high-speed trains (TGV, Eurostar and Thalys), domestic inter-city main lines (Intercités), TER (regional train) serving the Hauts-de-France region, the Transilien (region of Paris network), the RER and metro. Opened in 1846, the station was reconstructed in 1861 in a modern neoclassical style; the facade is adorned with twenty-three statues commissioned from thirteen famous sculptors of the time, representing the principal cities served by the rail company.
Famous for being the departure point, in 1883, of the first Orient-Express destined for Constantinople, the Gare de l’Est (East Station) is today twin station to the one in Moscow. Other than the main lines serving the Champagne-Ardenne area, Lorraine, Alsace and European countries, the Gare de l’est enables travellers to access the inner suburbs thanks to the Transilien network. Construction started in 1847 and it was inaugurated with pomp in 1850 by Emperor Napoleon III. It would be doubled in size between 1924 and 1931 and renovated in 2007 to accommodate the TGV high speed train heading east.
According to Patrice Chéreau, Ceux qui m'aiment prendront le train (Those that love me will take the train) at the Gare d’Austerlitz, destination Limoges for the funeral of painter Jean-Baptiste Emmerich (played by Jean-Louis Trintignant). Inaugurated in 1840, rebuilt in 1867, the former Orléans station also serves south Île-de-France, the Orléans and Berry regions.
Almost entirely destroyed by a fire during the Commune de Paris in 1871, the Gare de Lyon, put into service sixteen years earlier, underwent an identical reconstruction before getting a facelift for the Universal Exposition in 1900 with the addition of a splendid facade and a 67-meter high clock tower. The architect Marius Toudoire was also in charge of building within the edifice a luxurious buffet. This Second Empire style restaurant was renamed “Le Train Bleu” in 1963, in honor of the line Paris-Vintimille.
Montparnasse station, the cursed? Open in 1840, it has had an eventful history having been rebuilt, even moved, several times (1852 and 1969). It is also known for the accident on October 22nd, 1895 when the Granville-Paris went through the large windows due to faulty brakes and ended its wild ride 10 meters below on the tramway station! Servicing the west of France, the station is topped, since 1994, by the “Jardin Atlantique” (Atlantic Garden).
Connected to three RER lines and five metro lines, the labyrinth of Châtelet-Les Halles, open in 1977, is the biggest underground station in the world with 1,500 trains per day and an average of 750,000 daily passengers.