Paris: Shabby Gare du Nord set for makeover

Paris: Shabby Gare du Nord set for makeover
Passengers at the ever-busy Gare du Nord in Paris. Photo: Hugh Llewelyn/Flickr
The Gare du Nord train station in Paris - once dubbed "the squalor pit of Europe" - is set for a major facelift, officials announced on Wednesday. It will even include a gourmet restaurant.
If you've ever been to Gare du Nord in central Paris before, you'll probably have a strong opinion about it. 
Indeed, a top UK executive made headlines after his October visit last year when he called the station “the squalor pit of Europe“.
Others complain of the non-existent signs, the distinct smell of urine, and the shady characters hanging about at night. Oh, and the pickpockets too.
But – finally – officials have announced that it's time for a major renovation. 
Patrick Ropert, Managing Director of SNCF's Gares & Connexions, presented a plan on Wednesday that he admitted was “rather important”.

(Photo: AFP)
“This is the number one train station in Europe,” he told French channel BFM TV. “Every day, there are 700,000 people who pass through this station.”
Indeed, the station sees more daily passengers than any other in Europe, with an annual total of 190 million. That's enough to put the station among the busiest in the world. 
As well as the Paris Metro, it serves as the hub for several urban transportation lines, including the RER and trains to northern France as well as bus services. It also serves international lines to the UK, Germany, Belgium, and more. 

(Photo: AFP)

“We're going to announce a programme that will transform the Gare du Nord until 2023, while still having room for 700,000 people,” he added.
Ropert brushed off comparisons to London's Saint Pancras International, noting that it was five to ten times smaller and cost £1.3 billion to make. 
While he remained tight-lipped about exactly how the station would be renovated, he trumpeted that plans would include a new brewery run by Thierry Marx, a Parisian chef with three Michelin stars.

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