If you have ever arrived in Paris on the Eurostar, you will be familiar with the huge Gare du Nord station. This is where the Eurostar and Thalys trains arrive from the rest of Europe; where the TGV and SNCF trains arrive from the rest of France; and where the Metro and RER trains arrive from the rest of Paris. Opened in 1846 and extensively remodeled and enlarged in 1861, it opened (largely) in its current form in 1864. Its facade is designed around the idea of a triumphal arch and it is topped with 23 statues representing the cities that the station’s railway lines serve.
It is the second largest station in the world in terms of platform capacity (42 platforms to New York Grand Central Station’s 67). It is also the busiest station in Europe and the third busiest in the world (after Japan’s Shinjuku and Ikebukuru), with 180 million travellers passing through it each year. But on this particular summer afternoon, the total population of the platform was one and just for a moment the station seemed at peace.