Wednesday, September 8

Gare du Nord

I arrive at Gare du Nord, pictured, following a showery day in Paris leading to a beautiful sunset at 8:30PM. I have dinner at Terminus, as often, which is like the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station - classic. I much prefer the train to Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle (a ghastly airport) even though the London Terminus at St Pancras across town and requires an overline rail and undergound connection. Once on the train I can plug in my notebook and drink my coffee in peace - I am more productive here than the office. Go figure.

Not really visible in my photo, Gare du Nord has 23 female statues that adorn the 540 ft façade. Each represents a particular destination served by the Chemin de Fer du Nord rail company (now part of Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français). These include Paris, London, Berlin, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Vienna, Brussels and Frankfurt .. several slabs of stone, supported by a cast iron beam, are used for the exterior job. The interior of the station is 216ft wide and 600ft long, and contains a large central hall and a glass train shed. It is supported by iron pillars manufactured by Alston & Gourley's ironworks in Glasgow.

GdN is the busiest station in Europe, by total passenger numbers, and the third largest and busiest in the world handling around 180 million travellers per year (Clapham Junction is Europe's busiest railway station by daily rail traffic - one train every 13 seconds at peak times). Du Nord has to be one of the most beautiful - arriving from London .. now that is glamour even if wearing jeans and a polo shirt.

"Have you ever had one of those moments when you look up and realize that you're one of those people you see on the train talking to themselves?"
-- Marc Maron