Gare du Nord is Europe’s biggest train station and arguably the most in need of a revamp, or even just a good clean.
Whether it’s the smell of urine outside, the dilapidated ceilings, lack of signage, leaky ceilings, narrow platforms, closed shops, lack of space or the general all round filth, Gare du Nord has a few well-documented issues.
And they are finally being dealt with, which is good news for the 700,000 passengers who pass through the station's grime each day.
A major makeover is underway although passengers should not expect to see immediate results. The €600 million revamp is going to take eight years – just in time for Paris to potentially host the 2024 Olympics.
(The current mess that is Gare du Nord. AFP)
Although by the end of it the station, which links Paris to London, Brussels, Amsterdam, the northern suburbs and Charles de Gaulle airport, will have a new commercial centre, a planted roof and new terminals, as well as a whole new look seen in the images from architects Wilmotte et Associés below.
The station is due to be split into various buildings depending on the destination of the trains, so the Eurostar terminal, which is already undergoing an €80 million facelift, will have its own home.
And some decent signs we hope.
The main entrance to the station will be on Rue de Maubeuge (where the taxi rank currently is) and the main exit will be onto Rue de Dunkerque where passengers currently enter and leave the station on to the strip of restaurants and cafes. The whole area around the station will be pedestrianised.
A 160 metre-long, 60-metre wide walkway above the tracks will lead passengers to their platforms.
The station also wants to improve its sorry image in the eyes of, well, pretty much everyone, and one of France’s top chefs Thierry Marx will open a new brasserie called L’etoile du Nord (The Star of the North).
Other more standard food outlets will also have a home in the new station.
(A new entrance on Rue de Mauberge)
(And the exit onto Rue de Dunkerque)