Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Magic of Paris Train Stations - Gare de Lyon

You're Just Too Good To Be True by The Four Seasons on Grooveshark ...on the Beautiful Boy's playlist, I was suitably impressed.

[Edit:  BB asked me to add the following because he thought it was funny.  On the train, we agreed to pick out for each other a song from our iPhones that was on our mind at the time.  He gave me the classic Frankie Valli song (above).  I gave him this:

  Beautiful People (Cosmic Dawn Club Remix) by Chris Brown f. Benny Benassi on Grooveshark

It was honestly running through my head at the time because I had listened to it that morning and was so excited to be on our way.  He claimed his selection was better - "You like house music and dancing so much.  I've never seen a lawyer like that." Why the judgment, BB? Why the judgment.  Whatever.  He was fist-pumping to it just as happily as I was, as we sang out loud and seat-danced to both songs, much to the chagrin of the fellow passengers.  Life's a journey, not a destination, have as much fun as you can on the way!  End of edit.]


I've previously blogged about Ina Caro's amazing book on discovering the history of France via train travel.  You can buy the book here and it is well worth the purchase; trust me on this, you don't want to see the oodles of French travel/history books I've purchased on my Kindle, most of which were [raspberry sound].  Ms. Caro is a lady after my own heart - history and traveling are some of her lifelong loves, and it's thrilling for her to make the grand history of Paris come alive.  Moreover, her journeys down the thousands of years of French history are all within a day's travel via France's super efficient high-speed train system.

Which brings us to Gare de Lyon, the hub station for all international trains from Paris (according to Wikipedia, it hosts more than 90 million guests per year and is the busiest train station in Europe):

Gorgeous, no? The major Parisian railway stations all date back at least 100 years and are beautiful buildings - in fact, the world-famous Musee d'Orsay previously was a train station, if you can believe it.

In the 19th-century, rail travel became a rarified mode of transportation for the emerging haute-bourgeoisie (primarily comprised of the industrialists and financiers of the time), and true to form, they made sure that the stations from where they boarded their elite locomotives displayed their class distinction and aspirations to best the waning aristocracy.

Gare de Lyon more than 100 years ago.  The facade is exactly the same! Gives me thrills.  

Musee d'Orsay - can you believe it used to be a TRAIN STATION.
Far cry from the Amtrak depots in SoCal...Taken in the summer if you couldn't tell from: (1) the evidence of sunshine; and (2) the loads of tour buses out front.
And so Beautiful Boy and I headed to the Gare de Lyon to board the Eurostar.  He said let's lunch at Le Train Bleu, a restaurant inside the train station.  Dubious at first, I was blown away - it's been there since 1901 and again, evinces all the conspicuous grandeur typical of the time and class (I was delighted to discover that a picture of the restaurant fittingly graces the front cover of Ina Caro's book). Both the restaurant and the train station are considered paragons of Belle Epoque architecture:

As an FYI, everything here is very formal and the lunch crowd consisted of mostly well-heeled business persons in suits who were clearly not traveling.  
Isn't it gorgeous??  Above a train station! Say what you want about the bourgeoisie, after living amongst endless tract homes and strip malls in California, I love it all... 
We shared the tasting menu - everything was so delicious - and then headed downstairs to start our travels...I had thrills the entire time, there's something magical about leaving from huge hubs of mass transportation, like international airports or major train stations like this one...where is everyone going?  Who will they see?  What's their story? Are they happy, sad, in anticipation of an intriguing trip like I's a literal cross-road for innumerable people and it always makes me excited...

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