Gare du Nord
The Gare du Nord is a big international railroad station with several areas and levels, so allow plenty of time to find your way around when you're leaving on a train.
To board Eurostar trains for the UK, take the escalator upstairs on the left (west) side of the main station hall.
You'll find a Eurostar information booth on the second level; the ticket gates and passenger lounge are to your right as you leave the escalator. (You'll need to go through a passport check and security, since the United Kingdom isn't part of mainland Europe's "borderless" Schengen Zone.)
Once you're in the Eurostar passenger lounge, you'll need to stay there until it's time to board the train. (See photo at top of page.)
Thalys trains to Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany's Rhineland, and (during winter) the French Alps are boarded on the main level of the station, on platforms 7 and 8. Look for trains with red engines. If you need information or a ticket, visit the Thalys office (shown in the inset photo).
High-speed trains of the SNCF, or French National Railways, connect the Gare du Nord with cities in Northern France and beyond. These and other Grandes Lignes trains depart from platforms 9 to 29 in the main section of the station.
Most tourists won't need these commuter trains, which depart from platforms 30 to 40 to the east of the main station.
Trains between Charles de Gaulle Airport and the Paris city center stop at an underground station beneath the eastern end of the Gare du Nord. A long underground pedestrian and shopping passage connects the RER station with the La Chapelle stop of Métro Line 2, which is just to the north of the Gare du Nord. (Another Métro stop, Gare du Nord on Lines 3 and 5, is just to the south of the station.
A number of Paris city bus lines nearby serve the Gare du Nord, including buses to the Gare St-Lazare (26), Gare de l'Est (43), and Gare de Lyon (65).
Look for cabs on the western side of the station, just beyond the doorway by the Eurostar trains. (Taxi lines can be long at busy times or in bad weather.)
You can easily walk to the Gare de l'Est from the Gare du Nord (see map), and the southern slope of Montmartre is only 20 to 25 minutes away via the Rue de Dunkerque. (We nearly always walk to Montmartre from the Gare du Nord when we stay in that part of the city.)
The Gare du Nord has ticket counters and machines for the SNCF, RER, Eurostar, and other services. These are clearly marked, so follow the signs and keep your eyes open.
Supervised pay lavatories are near track 36; they're open from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. If you're a Eurostar passenger, use the ultramodern free toilets in the upstairs passenger lounge.
Three sizes of lockers are available on the lower level of the station, below the Eurostar area and near the taxi exit. You'll need to pass a security check to use them.
You'll find restaurants, cafés, fast food, and convenience shops scattered around the station. (If you're departing on Eurostar, you can buy drinks and snacks from a number of vendors in the passenger lounge.)
The Gare du Nord attracts its share of pickpockets and luggage thieves, so use common-sense precautions and keep an eye on your belongings. If you're approached by Gypsies or excessively friendly people who ask if you speak English, play dumb and move on.
For more information, see the Web links on the next page:
Thalys booth photo © Eurail Group.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Durant and Cheryl Imboden and their licensors.