What are the most beautiful French stations? Our 10 favorites

HERITAGE DAYS - Classified as Historic Monuments, remarkable for their architecture, some are places to visit in their own right. Ten favorite stations to discover during your train journeys.

They are the gateway to travel in train. Large or small, disused or always teeming with people, the stations are part of a railway heritage that the SNCF regularly invites to (re)discover, in particular during the European Heritage Days which are held on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September (program available here). But these stations are appreciated all the rest of the year, whether you are a passenger or a simple onlooker. Internet users are invited from September 19 to 30 to vote online among the 12 competing for the title of "Most beautiful station in France".

From Limoges to Paris via Dinan and Metz, our selection of pretty stations classified as Historic Monuments to discover in France.

Limoges-Bénédictins station

Among the first stations to be classified as a Historic Monument in 1975, that of Limoges-Bénédictins impresses with its style which borrows from several artistic currents, such as Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Opened in 1856 by the Compagnie Paris-Orléans at the heart of the main Limousin railway hub, it is served by the Intercités between Paris and Brive-la-Gaillarde and Toulouse. The building is recognizable by its campanile which culminates at 67 meters. Did you know ? The clocks that dominate it show two minutes in advance to allow travelers not to miss their train.

Limoges-Bénédictins station, 4 place Maison Dieu, 87036 Limoges.

Metz Ville station

At the beginning of 2021, the Metz-Ville station was elected "the most beautiful station in France" for the third consecutive year during a competition initiated by the SNCF. Xiongmao - stock.adobe.com

For the third consecutive year, Metz station was voted "France's most beautiful station" in January 2021 following an online competition initiated by SNCF. It is not a candidate for its own succession during the 4th edition of the competition in order to give other candidate stations a chance. Built in Niderviller sandstone in the neo-Romanesque style, the building was built between 1905 and 1908 during the period of German annexation ofAlsace and some Lorraine. The decoration of the facades also evokes the conquests of the German Empire. Like the hall and the old buffet, they are protected thanks to the registration of the site as a Historic Monument in 1975.

Metz-Ville station, 1 place du General de Gaulle, 57000 Metz.

La Rochelle-Ville train station

The campanile of La Rochelle-Ville station is higher than the towers that frame the city's Old Port. Wikimedia Creative Commons - Cramos

The 45-metre campanile (higher than the port towers), as well as the facades, roofs, hall and mosaics, have been listed since 1984. La Rochelle-Ville station, which borrows both from the style renaissance and Art Deco, was commissioned in 1878 and was part of the line of Nantes-Orleans to Saintes. It is now connected to Paris in 2h40 by TGV. The square and the surroundings of the building are the subject of redevelopment work which should be completed by the end of 2022.

La Rochelle-Ville station, place Pierre Semard, 17000 La Rochelle.

Paris Nord station

Gare du Nord in Paris is the busiest in Europe with 700,000 daily passengers. Francisco Javier Gil - stock.adobe.com

It is that of all superlatives. With 700,000 passengers per day (including 500,000 just for the RER), Paris-Nord is the busiest station in France and Europe.Europe. Its 32 tracks (including four underground) accommodate both Transilien, RER, TER, TGV and international trains (Eurostar and Thalys) serving four countries.

Inaugurated in 1846, the station quickly became too small in the face of a growing flow of passengers. In 1864, it was demolished and rebuilt larger in a neo-classical and modern style. The stones are reused for the construction of the facade of the station of Lille-Flanders. Its huge façade features 23 statues representing the towns once served by the Compagnie des chemins de fer du Nord (London, amsterdam, Dunkirk...). Paris-Nord must be renovated, but the initial project, canceled in September 2021, will give way to a less ambitious redevelopment by 2024.

Paris-Nord station, 18 rue de Dunkerque, 75010 Paris.

Strasbourg station

Its canopy was installed in 2007 during the opening of the East-European high-speed line. A touch of modernity that encompasses the facade of the historic building, built in pink sandstone from the Vosges, inaugurated in 1883 by the German administration. Third busiest regional station after Lille-Flandres and Lyon-Part-Dieu, the Gare de Strasbourg has been listed as a Historic Monument since 1984. It is served by TER and French (TGV inOui and Ouigo) and German (ICE) high-speed trains.

Strasbourg station, place de la Gare, 67000 Strasbourg.

Trouville-Deauville station

The facades, roofs and passenger hall have been listed since 2010. Wikimedia Commons - Cramos

This gateway to the flowery coast was inaugurated in 1931. The facades and roofs, the large passenger hall, the platforms with the shelters and the lampposts and lights have been listed since 2010. The building resembles the Pointe Noire station in Congo, built the same year and by the same architect, Jean Philippot, also in a neo-Norman style. The destination is connected to Paris in 2h20 by Nomad train. During the summer period, TER make the connection with Cabourg.

Deauville-Trouville station, place Louis Armand, 14800 Deauville.

Tours station

In the hall of Tours station, 18 ceramic paintings. suronin - stock.adobe.com

Built between 1896 and 1898, Tours station has been listed as a Historic Monument since 1984. In the hall, travelers can admire 18 Art Deco-style ceramic paintings from the 1920s representing French destinations originally served by the Compagnie du chemin de fer from Paris to Orléans and the Vendée railways. Like the Parisian stations, that of Tours has the particularity of being in a cul-de-sac and thus being the terminus for almost all trains. Access to Tours is also via a second station, that of Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, a few kilometers away, served in particular by the TGV between Paris and the Atlantic coast.

Tours station, General Leclerc square, 37000 Tours.

Dinan station

The frescoes of Dinan station represent a map of the city and the map of the Breton railway network. Jean-Marc De Jaeger / Le Figaro

The exterior is nothing special. But pacing in the large hall allows you to admire everything that makes this station so charming: its frescoes and mosaics, the only elements to be listed as Historic Monuments since 1986. One is a map of the town of Dinan , heart of the Brittany medieval, the other a map of the region's railways. Commissioned in 1879, the station is now linked to Dol-de-Bretagne and Saint-Brieuc by the TER. It houses a Railway Museum which will delight model railway enthusiasts.

Dinan station, place of November 11, 1918, 22100 Dinan.

Toulouse-Matabiau station

On the facade of the station, the coats of arms of the 26 main stations served are represented. Some of these stations are no longer served by the railway today. SNCF / Yann Audic

If the primitive station received its first train in 1856, the current passenger building, built in Saintonge stone, dates from 1905. It occupies the former site of a cattle slaughterhouse dating from medieval times, 'where its name of Matabiau which comes from the Occitan "mata buoù" (literally "to kill the ox"). Paul, Bayonne, Carcassonne... Built in record time (a year and a half), Toulouse station has a central pavilion and two wings. U-shaped, like the current station, the building is however smaller and much lower than the current building.

In 1864, the first marquise was created by Gustave Eiffel's company. In 1895 an additional marquise was added. The 26 main cities formerly served by the Compagnie des chemins de fer du Midi are represented by coats of arms adorning the facade of the passenger building.

Toulouse-Matabiau station, boulevard Pierre Semard, 31500 Toulouse.

Canfranc station

Wedged between the mountains, this station is a Spanish pride and the government of Aragon has thrown all its weight so that it can be renovated. PIERRE OLIVIER DESCHAMPS / Le Figaro Magazine

If it is not listed in the Historic Monuments, Canfranc station has been classified as a property of cultural interest since 2002. Inaugurated in 1928 according to the will of the King ofSpain Alphonse XIII and French President Gaston Doumergue, it never had the expected success. As large as Saint-Lazare in Paris, this international station built in the Pyrenees on the Franco-Spanish border only welcomed around fifty passengers a day at its peak. The derailment of a freight train in 1970, which halted traffic on the French side, precipitated its decline.

Today, the station sees only one Spanish train per day to Zaragoza. But no French train on the horizon yet. A project to extend the TER Pau-Bedous line to Canfranc is under study and would make it possible to revive the historic line from Pau to Zaragoza. A luxury hotel housed in part of the building, whose first images were unveiled in early 2022, should welcome its first customers next December. In the meantime, guided tours are offered from June to September by Canfranc tourist office.

Canfranc International Station, 22880 Canfranc-Estación, Province of Huesca, Spain.

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