Paris train stations: 19th-century architectural heritage

Paris train stations combine historical and living heritage.

Gare de l'Est, vue panoramique, Paris © Fotolia - eyetronic

Paris’s imposing train stations serve as landmarks for tourists and residents alike, and have influenced the city’s layout and development. Dating from the origins of the railways in the 19th century, they have modified entire sections of the city. 

Saint-Lazare was the first station to be built, in 1837, soon followed by the Gare du Nord, the Gare de l’Est and the Gare de Lyon. All the stations boast exceptional and unique architecture, like the Gare du Nord with its neoclassical façade and 23 sculptures by famous artists.

While they are worth visiting for historical interest, the main Paris stations are not frozen in time. Each one has undergone major renovation work in recent years to cater for increased train traffic, especially high-speed trains, as well as the constant growth in the number of rail travellers.

The nerve centre of the French and European rail networks, the stations have also become lively urban spaces with sprawling shopping centres frequented by ever-increasing numbers of people.

Gare Saint-Lazare

Train stations and left-luggage
13 rue d'Amsterdam, Paris, 75008

Inaugurated in 1837, the Gare Saint-Lazare, close to the Grands Magasins on boulevard Haussmann, was built between 1842 and 1853,......

Gare de l'Est

Train stations and left-luggage
Place du 11 novembre 1918, Paris, 75010

The Gare de l'Est opened in 1849 offers today numerous shops and services as well as a branch office of the Paris Convention and......

Gare du Nord

Train stations and left-luggage
18 rue de Dunkerque, Paris, 75010

The Gare du Nord is the largest station in Paris. It opened in 1846 and the building itself was designed by the architect Jacques......

Gare de Lyon

Train stations and left-luggage
Place Louis Armand, Paris, 75012

The Gare de Lyon is one of the seven termini of the SNCF network in Paris. Built in 1855, it was almost entirely burnt down by a......

Gare d'Austerlitz

Train stations and left-luggage
85 quai d'Austerlitz, Paris, 75013

The Gare d'Austerlitz, situated in the 13th arrondissement, is one of Paris's main train stations. Operational from 1840, the......

Gare Montparnasse

Train stations and left-luggage
17 boulevard de Vaugirard, Paris, 75015

The Gare Montparnasse, situated on the Left Bank, is one of the main SNCF train stations in Paris. The current train station,......