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March 31, 2012


Gare Saint-Lazare – A New Look

by soundlandscapes

OPENED IN AUGUST 1837, the Gare Saint-Lazare is one of the six terminus railway stations in Paris.  450,000 passengers a day pass through this station and it’s the second busiest station in Paris after the Gare du Nord.

There are no high-speed TGV lines operating from the Gare Saint-Lazare but the services do include the long distance Intercités trains towards Normandy as well as the regional Transilien trains to the western suburbs of Paris.

Inside the Gare Saint-Lazare:

In recent times, the Gare Saint-Lazare has had a rather tired and weary look to it so it’s good to report that after almost three years of renovation work a new-look Gare Saint-Lazare finally opened to the public this week.

The €250 million project was funded partly by SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer français, France’s national state-owned railway company) and partly by private investment. The three level concourse was constructed while the station was fully operational for most of the time and that is a testament to the planning that went into the work.

The new look station has 80 new shops to explore including familiar names such as Celio, Promod, Yves Rocher, Foot Locker, Camaïeu, Virgin, Sephora, Lush and L’Occitane. There are also some upmarket brands including Guess, Lacoste, Aigle, Passionata and Esprit.

Although the concourse is now officially open the shops are for the most part still catching up and when I went few of them were actually open for business.

The Gare Saint-Lazare is not a station I use all that often. Nevertheless, it’s good to see one of the least fashionable main terminus stations in Paris transformed into one of the smartest. At least the waiting time in the station will now be more entertaining for those addicted to shopping.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 1 2012

    I used Saint Lazare a lot during one professional period of my life, and I’m not really enamoured of what they’ve done here. Basically they’ve built a shopping centre from where trains also happen to arrive and depart. It probably makes sense though. It’s probably the station in Paris that has the highest commuter traffic, so the shops will be practical for a lot of people. However, when you think of the impressionist paintings of the station, the stories of Zola and the photos of Cartier Bresson, there is a whole history of romance connected to this station that has now disappeared.

    • Apr 2 2012

      Thanks Adam. I know what you mean but isn’t that the way of most things these days. You’re right, it’s a shopping centre … but I try to keep the romance alive by thinking of it as one in a long line of passges couverts – albeit a twenty-first century one.

  2. Apr 2 2012

    Train stations really are a rich environment for sound aren’t they, and you clear recording really does this station justice. The acoustics must be amazing in this station, it sounds beautiful. It makes our Australian stations sound quite archaic.

    • Apr 2 2012

      The acoustics in the main Paris stations vary quite a bit. The Gare du Nord has the most lively and distinctive acoustic but the Gare Saint-Lazare comes fairly close. The sounds are most dramatic at the height of the rush hour in the morning and evening when the station is full of commuters and at its busiest.

  3. Apr 19 2012

    I don’t understand a lot of what the speaker is saying (just a tiny bit, to be honest), but your recording is letting me feel to be back in Paris, and that’s wonderful! Last time I was in Paris in 1990. Listening now to your recording, I remember how beautiful that was. I had just fallen in love with U. I was driving the car, and he was sleeping when we arrived in Paris. I will never forget those seconds driving my little red Mitsubishy around L’Arc de Triomphe, saying out loud to myself: “This is hell!” (And we were still alive when we got through!)
    Greetings from Regina, the night sound surfer from Bremen, Germany. I love your recordings, Des. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Apr 19 2012

      Thank you Regina. I am so pleased that these recordings evoke such memories for you. That makes it all worthwhile.
      I can tell you that driving round L’Arc de Triomphe has not changed at all … it still is hell! C’est la vie.


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