Gare du Nord and its environs are in the midst of an exciting transformation and for the 200 million travellers it serves annually, it’s not a moment too soon.
Renovations of railway station neighborhoods are catching on among the French- never ones to be outdone by the British. After London’s St. Pancras station a few years back, Parisians are fast getting up to speed– transforming Gare du Nord and the neighboring area in time for the 2024 Olympics.
An ambitious 8-year plan will see the station and surrounding neighborhood rejuvenated with new shops, restaurants, and art installations in and around the station, as well as a pedestrianized walkway linking Gare du Nord to Gare de l’Est.
While still a work in progress, the area is already more than a mere transit point to shuffle hurriedly away from, with a number of places and things worth visiting. Here are a few favorites:
L’Étoile du Nord
Thierry Marx’s excellent brasserie offers a modern take on French cuisine in casual surroundings. The food here lives up to the chef’s superstar reputation (he holds two Michelin stars as executive chef at the Mandarin Oriental Paris). The menu offers an array of light and fresh options, French comfort food, and even Marx’s individual take on fish and chips. The prix fixe menus offer good value considering the outstanding quality of the cooking.
Commissioned by the City of Paris as part of the Nuit Blanche in 2015, this sculpture by Leandro Erlich is located in the forecourt of the station. It represents a melting Parisian building and aims to educate on the effects of global warming, and its legacy for future generations.
Also on the forecourt of Gare du Nord is another sculpture, Angel Bear, which also addresses environmental concerns. Artist Richard Texier’s sculpture represents a bright red mythical animal representing the urgency and threat of global warming.
On a street littered with seedy brasseries, Terminus Nord stands out from the crowd. Part of the FLO Groupe, Terminus Nord epitomizes the traditional Parisian brasserie with its grand, elegant art deco interior, a mix of friendly and gruff waiters, and tried and true classic French dishes.
The menu leans heavily towards seafood. Also served are choucroute, plenty of meat dishes to satisfy the carnivore in you, and typical French desserts including îles flottantes, crème brûlée, millefeuille, and the classic profiteroles.
This renowned South Indian chain offers some of the best vegetarian food to be found in the city.
It specializes in dishes made from ground rice or lentils, such as dosas (indian crepes stuffed with potato and onion), idly (a white savory rice and lentil patty), and vada (deep fried savory lentil donuts). Their thalis are particularly delicious. Dishes are reasonably priced and served in a bustling informal setting.
Though well off the tourist trail, the Eglise Saint Vincent de Paul is worth a visit. Built between 1824-1844, it is one of the largest churches in Paris. The church was designed by Jacques Hittorff, the same architect who designed Gare du Nord. An oasis amidst the activity of the surrounding area, its magnificent façade is matched (or even surpassed) in beauty by its breathtaking interior.
Designed by Rabourdin, Marche St Quentin is amongst the city’s oldest covered markets. You’ll find all the usual fare here – including fresh fish, butchers, fruits and veggies, flowers, charcuterie, wine, beer and more. What stands apart is the choice of ethnic vendors, including Italian, Portuguese, Brazilian, and Lebanese goods. The market is open Tuesday to Saturday, 8:30 am- 8 pm (some shops closed during lunch) and Sundays 8:30 am -1 pm.
This excellent organic shop offers a wide and wonderful selection of fruits and vegetables, vegan items, meat, poultry, frozen goods, pantry items, hygiene products and various household goods. The shop is eco-friendly, with many items packaged in glass versus plastic, as well as a wide selection of loose bulk goods, and dispensers for oils and detergents.
Christophe Adam trained at Fauchon before devoting himself to éclairs full time. He has successfully re-invented the iconic French treat. Customers can choose flavors ranging from the traditional chocolate to Lemon Yuzu. Along with his eclectic, visually stunning éclairs there are salads, sandwiches and other take away options to liven up your commute.
Étoile du Nord 18 Rue de Dunkerque, Paris 75010 +33 1 40 36 54 36
Terminus Nord 23 Rue de Dunkerque, Paris 75010 +33 1 42 85 05 15
Saravnaa Bhavan 170 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, Paris 75010 +33 899 27 35 05
St Vincent de Paul 5 Rue de Belzunce, Paris 75010 +33 1 48 78 47 47
Marché St Quentin 85bis Boulevard de Magenta, Paris 75010 +33 1 48 85 93 30
Coeur de Nature 44 Rue de Dunkerque, 75009 Paris, France +33 1 69 88 44 73
L’Éclair de Génie 18 Rue de Dunkerque, 75010 Paris
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