Baby on board: Woman gives birth at Gare du Nord station in Paris

Gare du Nord in Paris, once described as the "squalor pit of Europe" became a makeshift maternity ward on Friday when a woman had a "lightning birth" in the middle of the station.

Baby on board: Woman gives birth at Gare du Nord station in Paris
Photo: AFP

It's certainly not the place the mother, or indeed any mother would dream of giving birth to their baby.

Gare du Nord in Paris is Europe's busiest rail station where commuters from the northern Paris suburbs bump elbows and bang bags and generally jostle with passengers from Paris's airports, Eurostar travellers, those who come to the capital on trains from northern France and a whole load of people who just hang around.

That's not to mention the drug dealers and addicts who frequent a station, that one British businessman famously called the “squalor pit of Europe”.

But around 6.30 on Friday morning Gare du Nord became a makeshift maternity ward when a woman was forced to give birth at the station.

“I saw a woman in difficulty,” Paris transport worker turned mid-wife Mohamed Nadour told Le Parisien. 

“I realised that her waters had broken and she was in the process of giving birth.

“I laid the woman down. She was crying in agony. She told me the baby was coming. Fortunately there was a hospital nurse on her way to work. She stopped to help me.”

Police and paramedics quickly arrived at the scene and an improvised hospital cubicle was set up around the woman to at least allow her a little privacy.

The birth was made even more complicated by the fact the woman, who was of Asian origin didn't speak a word of French.

“It was a lightning birth, it took 10 minutes maximum,” said Mohamed.

“We didn't realise what was happening. It was so quick.

“A passing woman threw her scarf at me with a smile so I could put it around the newborn baby to keep it warm.”

The mother and her baby (we are not sure if it's a boy or a girl) were rushed off to hospital followed by police, the father and the grandmother who had all been there to witness the shock birth.

Both mother and baby are said to be doing well.

Earlier this year The Local reported how a mother gave birth at an RER train station in the city. And the lucky baby was given free transport until his 25th birthday.

Baby born on the RER train in Paris: What actually happened?

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France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.