Paris Gare du Nord

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by GNER 373, 2 Nov 2014.

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  1. GNER 373

    GNER 373 Member

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    Hi everyone,

    Making my first official Eurostar trip to Paris tomorrow and will be in Paris Gare du Nord around lunchtime, wonder if anyone could give me tips on the best place to position myself to maximise photo opportunities?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  3. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    To be honest Gare du Nord & its surroundings are a dump and best avoided unless you want to risk being relieved of your valuables. Better to visit the Gare du Lyon with its wonderful Train Bleu restaurant.
     
  4. Julian W

    Julian W Member

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    Fully agree with the above - I think it's pretty unpleasant just to catch a train, let alone spend any extended time there spotting etc.
     
  5. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Add my vote to the two above as well. Honestly, it;s not a very nice place to hang around. I have a feeling that if you start taking photo's you will attract undesirables wherever you go in Gare du Nord.
     
  6. 87015

    87015 Established Member

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    Never had a problem myself, standard platform photos are quite reasonable there. Most of the undesirables are on the concourse or suburban platforms
     
  7. Haydn1971

    Haydn1971 Established Member

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    When in Paris last year, had loads of beggars coming right up to me asking if I was English. I ignored them, but noticed some people being caught out, once distracted signing a form, a second beggar dips into your back pack - top tip, don't carry valuables where you can't feel them being removed - Wanted to visit Paris for years, stunned at the degree of beggars and vagrants in the streets.
     
  8. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    Confuses them no end when I reply (truthfully) No!
     
  9. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Some of the comments about Gare du Nord have perhaps been a little harsh; while the area is not the nicest, and the suburbs that some of the local trains serve "to be avoided", I've never felt unsafe there. I do however speak as a fluent french speaker, with no belongings (such as a camera) on display, so I appreciate that this can be different depending on your individual situation.

    GNER 373, what exactly is that you're interesting in photographing? Because if it's TGVs, the grandeur of Gare de Lyon (a visit in itself!) is probably the best location. There's no barriers there (nor are there at Gare du Nord mainline platforms either, for that matter) and the clientele there are normally less intimidating.

    Another one if I can suggest it is Paris St. Lazare. No TGVs to be found here, however there are two suburban lines which use the station, so you're guaranteed a train every minute or so. Plenty of loco-hauled to be found on the higher number platforms (14-19) on long-distance services to Normandy. While some of the suburbs that the local trains serve are once again in the "to be avoided" category, you should have no hassle on platform ends away from the concourse.

    As for beggars coming up to people, brandishing a petition / dropping a gold ring / shouting "speak English" / making close personal contact - it's a very well known problem. I found the best way to deal with it was to avoid eye contact, and show no reaction, as if 'speak english' means nothing to you. If they persist and are really quite 'daring' and coming up to you and not getting the message, then shouting back at them in some language other than english helps - my limited (ie. 7 words in total) German did the trick when required.
     
  10. Searle

    Searle Established Member

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    Me and my girlfriend found that the easiest ways to make the beggars not talk to you is to say 'Deutsche' aggressively before walking off.

    I haven't really experienced the surroundings of the station, but it's not that bad for end of platform photos really. I only got told to leave the platform once, by a really friendly member of staff who said (in English) that the train was experiencing problems (aka wasn't moving!), and that it would be best if I left the platform.

    If you're arriving at a peak time (anytime in the day really), and you are going to Gare De Lyon, then I would advise buying two metro tickets on board the Eurostar before you arrive: I've had to queue for about half an hour in the station for the ticket machines before! The metro isn't too difficult to understand if you know where you're going.

    Hope you enjoy your trip :D
     
  11. newmilton

    newmilton Member

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    The most useful phrase I find in any foreign language to deter anyone with a clipboard, begging bowl, etc, "Désolé(e), je ne suis pas d'ici", or indeed,"Mi dispiace, non sono di qui" (I'm sorry, I'm not from here).

    I was at the Gare du Nord only on Friday, and concur that it's always rather hectic (it is the busiest station in Europe by passenger numbers), but the more dubious sorts do tend to hang out around the suburban platforms, especially the lower level RER platforms. Keep your wits about you and you'll be all right. But then I am fluent in French.

    Incidentally, I was quite impressed with how E* handled a technical fault on our unit: they announced a short delay in boarding, then switched us to the adjacent unit, and we left only 13' late. I presume they continued putting people on the 'next' train set until they were able to bring the faulty one back into service.
     
  12. Hophead

    Hophead Member

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    Gare de L'Est is a fairly pleasant station and is just 10 minutes walk from the Gare du Nord.
     
  13. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    The only place I felt safe taking a photo at Gare du Nord was from the Eurostar boarding lounge, from which one can get a good study in contrasting noses at the buffer stops.
     
  14. GNER 373

    GNER 373 Member

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    Thanks for all the replies guys, so pleased I asked as id always think of a major station like that well policed and pretty safe. Sounds like a trip to Gare du Lyon might be in order instead. It's TGV's I'm interested in seeing most of all however any 'foreign' train/loco would also interest me.

    Looks as though I'll be doing a lot of ignoring beggars etc too!
     
  15. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I wouldn't say Gare du Nord is unsafe. I've not heard of many violent incidents there, it's just that I think that anyone who is hanging around there either looking like a lost tourist, or, int his case, a photographer, will become a focus for beggars, scammers, and other unwanted attention. It just isn't something I'd want to put myself through.

    FWIW, I've always felt more comfortable at Gare de l'Est abd Gare St Lazare.
     
  16. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I think it's sadly the case that in Europe it's only really the UK where large main stations have a very safe feel to them. This might be related to their location - because we've had railways longer, stations tend to be found closer to the town centre and are less likely to be in the sort of just-outside-town ratholes where they tend to be found in mainland Europe.

    I think ticket barriers also help on this one.

    I still remember learning this one when I saw a drug user run out of a just-about-to-depart train in Hamburg Hbf, needle still hanging out of his arm. And Hamburg Hbf doesn't particularly *feel* unsafe.

    Neil
     
  17. Julian W

    Julian W Member

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    Would recommend Est or Lyon as mentioned above - pretty nice stations, remind me of Kings Cross in some ways.

    Would avoid Montparnasse - always seems pretty manic and the layout isn't really conducive to spotting/photography either.
     
  18. rg177

    rg177 Established Member

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    +1 to Est and Lyon. Never had any issues there and the area around Est wasn't too bad when I stayed there.

    Agreed with Montparnasse. Lots of trains around but the underground platforms can make the station seem quite claustrophobic.
     
  19. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Yeah, there's no problem with the people at Montparnasse, but as a station I can imagine that it is not very pleasant for photographing. To be perfectly honest, I find it dark, dingy, and cold with poor signage - perhaps it is the French answer to Birmingham New Street?
     
  20. 87015

    87015 Established Member

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    Can get reasonable phots at Montparnasse, good enough for me anyway, and its actually a very good place to go for haulage rather than spotting - base 5tph loco hauled on the Versailles corridor (very leap friendly!) going up to about 12tph in the peak. This is the TER platforms with an evening commuter (about load 13x26m as an aside...)

    [​IMG]
     
  21. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    Gare du Nord Area is very well policed - but still has a large number of undesirables just waiting for a scamming opportunity. Much worse than even the King Cross area 20 years ago. Avoid hanging around - and if you do , stick on the main concourse. Eateries and bars are well pricey , and if you make the mistake of sitting outside (yes I know it is November) - you will be continually hassled.

    A useful phrase is "F++k Off" - works a treat.
     
  22. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Nice shot - for how much longer are BB7200 on Corail sets in the Ile-de-France area going to be possible?! :(

    Never got any of the TER loco-hauled at Montparnasse, but they're mainly in the evening peaks if I remember correctly. Plenty of Transilien push/pull stuff though. (Only thing is, when I did them, albeit off-peak, they stop everywhere, think they are first stop Vavnes-Malakoff, unlike the a lot of the 'J' trains from St Lazare which are non-stop until Poissy).
     
  23. newmilton

    newmilton Member

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    I avoid Montparnasse - not least because of the long walk to and from the Metro. But frankly the refurbished platforms at Austerlitz (1-7) have all the charm of an underground carpark.
     
  24. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Haha very true on both counts! The only time I used Austerlitz we left from the NCP car park bit but the train back arrived into the lovely main bit of the station. Austerlitz has a strange feel about it, although perhaps not quite as strange as Bercy!
     
  25. GNER 373

    GNER 373 Member

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    Well I braved not only Gare du Nord but a few of the RER stations whilst there and managed to get a few shots of E*s, TGV and Thalys plus a few loco hauled shots too. Mind you I was quick!. On arriving at Gare du Nord we exited our Eurostar (I went with my girlfriend) and headed towards the taxi rank to which we were a flame to the many 'moths' I'd previously been advised about, especially the 'official' taxi drivers that had left the rank to stand inside the entrance with pre-made 'taxi fares in Paris' cards explaining that for our journey (ours an approx 35 min journey across Paris - our hotel being in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower) would be around €125 but this taxi driver would take us for €75. A bargain you may think but after opting out of taxis and heading for the RER (which I found very easy to use once I got a hold of a map) and reaching the hotel they explained to us that that taxi ride should only have cost us €30-40 at most. And to think we got on the RER from Gare du Nord to Champs de Mars-Tour Eiffel via St Michel-Notre Dame for €3.40!!!! And in only 30 mins. We used the RER and Metro to travel around after that (and got no-where near €75 euros in total fares). We found it a little dated in some stations and fleet and seedy at some other stations but very quick and cheap, so as a bonus I managed to travel on a few trains I hadn't expected too. Once I got back to Gare Du Nord this morning I knew where to avoid and managed to grab a few more shots. Couldn't really complain. And as I didn't get to the other stations that a few of you mentioned previously looks like another trip to Paris on the cards soon! Well I did score lots of brownie points taking the missus to all the other attractions this time ;)

    Thanks again everyone
     
    Last edited: 5 Nov 2014
  26. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

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    If you go again and stay over, you might be interested in the TimHotel Gare du Nord ( the area isn't as bad as it sounds ) - you'll find this view of the approach to Gare de l'Est from some of the rooms... :D


    Sorry the photo has scanned a little bit blurry.
     

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    Last edited: 5 Nov 2014
  27. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    Pleased to hear you had a good time. I'm shocked at those 'taxi fares' (well, I shouldn't say shocked, because fleecing the tourists in major European cities isn't exactly unseen!) as for a comparison, Bastille (Gare de Lyon area) to Roissy-CDG cost me (I say me, what I mean is my boss...) 47 euros for a journey of just over an hour. This was on Christmas eve 2013 when the SNCF drivers on the RER to the airport went on strike - thanks guys!

    Dated and seedy is a very good description of certain bits of the network, couldn't have put it better myself!
     
  28. jamesr

    jamesr Member

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    Similar arrangements exist in the UK designed to fleece new arrivals unfamiliar with the country, the currency and capital city transportation, with a view to tricking them paying much higher prices for very similar services. In the UK, they call themselves "Heathrow Express".
     
    Last edited: 8 Nov 2014
  29. James Wood

    James Wood Member

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    Last time I was there, I noticed almost every shop was a sex shop. And to make things worse, my train was delayed.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I took the Artesia Night once from Bercy… I HATED IT THERE. Its probably the worst mainline station in Paris.
     
  30. CC 72100

    CC 72100 Established Member

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    The whole train every 2 hours or something ridiculous during the day makes it deserted, it's so strange considering how busy and bustling with people all the other termini are. It's like you've stepped into another town temporarily. It reminds of the French rail network in certain rural areas, where the infrastructure is built to sustain a much higher traffic level than there actually is.

    Bercy is also the only Paris mainline station I haven't been out of, but I used next-door neighbour Lyon numerous times during my stay there so that makes up for it. :p
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Brilliant :lol:
     
  31. 87015

    87015 Established Member

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    Bercy does show its motorail terminus heritage - no worse than where the DMUs go from beyond Montparnasse though. At least at Bercy you never actually have to hang around there as the turnarounds are massive so stock nearly always in, which is presumably the operational convenience they use it for.
     
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