Paris train stations: 19th-century architectural heritage

Paris train stations combine historical and living heritage.

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.