Gare du Nord
Opened in 1864, the Gare du Nord station is best known to British travellers as their gateway to Paris – in fact, it’s the busiest train station in Europe if you go by the number of passengers, dealing with 190 million travellers each year. You can catch a train from here to Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as Lille and other destinations in northern France.
The station sits just inside the 10th arrondissement, at the confluence with the 9th and the 18th, and is close to some of Paris’s most fascinating areas. Here you won’t find the swanky boutiques and glamour of the Champs-Elysees … you’ll find bohemia, artistry, history and spectacle. Book one of our hotels near Gare du Nord and explore this fascinating quarter at your leisure.
All the attractions below are within walking distance of Gare du Nord.
Splendid, ornate and Parisian all over, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica sits on the summit of the Butte Montmartre, the city’s highest point. Climb the 234 steps to the dome for superb views – you can see for up to 30 kilometres on a clear day. Work began on the basilica in 1875 – it was meant to help restore piety to the city after a bloody period – yet it was not until 1914 that it finally opened. Now a place of pilgrimage, it is home to France’s largest bell – it weighs 19 tonnes – one of the world’s largest mosaics, a garden and an impressive organ and is stunning inside and out. The stone it is built from constantly exudes calcite, meaning the basilica remains white despite weather and pollution. The surrounding district, Montmartre, has always been a bohemian, rebellious quarter, the home of artists, writers and philosophers – Renoir, Degas, Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec lived here. Its steep, cobbled streets still have a villagey feel.
Canal St Martin
Built in 1825 and funded by the extremely un-French measure of a tax on wine, the 4.5-kilometre Canal St Martin is a tranquil place for a stroll, lined with trendy bistros and bohemian bars from which you can watch the barges navigate the locks and bridges. Its tree-lined quays may look familiar – Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film Amelie featured footage of the canal.
For spectacular costumes adorned with more sequins, rhinestones and feathers than you would have believed physically possible, and a unique experience, take a trip back to 19th-century Paris and see a show at the Moulin Rouge. Founded in 1889, the venue is considered the birthplace of modern can-can dancing after the dance, which was originally meant to be a method of seduction, became a form of entertainment in its own right, inspiring cabarets across Europe.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
The picturesque Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, in the 19th arrondissement, is the fifth-largest park in Paris and was built in 1867. It most famous feature is the Temple de la Sibylle, which sits on top of a 50-metre cliff on a rocky island in the middle of an artificial lake. There is also a grotto, decorated with artificial stalactites, a waterfall, a bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, three restaurants and two puppet theatres. More than 47 species of plants, trees and shrubs are grown in the park, including a number of exotic trees.
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