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The iconic Gare de Lyon

Right by our 2-star hotel

Our cosy and welcoming 2-star hotel, located close to the Gare de Lyon train station, is perfect for both holidays and business trips in Paris. Two minutes away on foot, the Gare de Lyon is a surprising building in many respects, with a rich architectural and artistic heritage that makes it worth a look.

The “Embarcadère de chemin de fer de Paris à Montereau” (“The Paris-Montereau Railway Platform”), ancestor to the present to the Gare de Lyon, opened in 1849. With the increase in traffic and rise of power of the PLM (former railway company connecting Paris with Lyon and the Mediterranean), a new Gare de Lyon with 5 platforms was quickly constructed in 1855 to replace the former platform, which was inadequate for the amount of rail traffic.

For the Exposition Universelle in 1900, which was expecting tens of millions of visitors, the PLM company decided to rebuild the station. The enlargement was overseen by the Toulouse architect Marius Toudoire, who allotted 13 platforms to deal with all the traffic. The main hall is a masterpiece of ironwork, 220 m long and 42 m wide. The most remarkable part is certainly the clock tower, which is 67 m tall. On each of its four sides are giant clocks by famed watchmaker Paul Garnier that can be seen from afar, particularly useful in the early 20th century when few people actually had watches.

Each face is 6.4 m in diameter, which puts them just behind the Big Ben clock in size (7.5 m), and the numbers themselves are a metre tall. The minute hand is 4 m long and weighs 38 kilos, while the hour hand is 2.8 m long and 26 kilos in weight. The windows forming the back of the clocks covers 132 m². Until 1929, the four clock faces were lit from inside by 1000 oil lamps, requiring four employees to light and maintain them in the evening and morning.

The other remarkable thing about the new station was its buffet restaurant. Considered one of the most beautiful of its kind n the world, this restaurant was fashioned entirely in the Second Empire style, with lots of golden ornamentation, lots of decorative paintings and a heavy amount of luxury. The kitchens, located in the attic, were connected to the restaurant with seven elevators. In 1966, the Train Bleu (which the restaurant was eventually called, after the famous night train to the Riviera) was saved from demolition by André Malraux. A range of esteemed individuals would dine there, including Sarah Bernhardt, Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Coco Chanel, Colette, Marcel Pagnol, Jean Gabin and even President Mitterand.

Enter this legendary location at the heart of the Gare de Lyon and discover a majestic decor, a true gem of Belle Époque style.