My Paris Your Paris

A personal guide to the best of the city's culture and history

Category: Miscellaneous

How to get from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon

At Gare du Nord descend one level from the main platform level (there are multiple escalators) and follow the signs for RER Line D. This is at the opposite end of the station to the Eurostar platforms. (The RER is the suburban Paris overground train network – although this journey is all underground.)

Usually the trains are for Melun or Malesherbes and leave from platform 44. When there was once a track problem I have seen them go off 42.

If you’re doing this journey regularly, or travelling around Paris sometime soon, you can buy a carnet, a book of 10 tickets, from the ticket window or machines. You can also use these on the Metro.

Each journey in zone one (which this journey is) requires one ticket – hang on to it when you’ve entered the station as ticket checks are quite common. Alternatively you can just get a single ticket.

It is two stops to Gare de Lyon. On the platform there, head up one lot of escalators following signs for “grandes lignes” out through ticket gate, then up another lot of escalators.

There’s only one tricky thing here – there are blue platforms (designated with letters) and yellow (designated with numbers). Before there is a platform known for trains there will be a blue or yellow square on the indicator board. It is important to note this, since it is at least a five-minute walk between the two sets of platforms – easy to get caught some distance from where you want to be. (When boarding the train at Gare de Lyon, do be aware that you are supposed to stamp your ticket at the platform entrance first.)
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Le Nemours: a favourite café

You’ve got to try really hard to find a poor café in Paris; there’s a few rather dodgy joints around the Gare du Nord, and in the depths of Les Halles, but even the clear tourist traps along the Left Bank serve decent food at only moderately inflated prices.

So favourites are more a matter of mood than food, more emotion than calculation. I’ve long been a fan of the Café Panis looking out on Notre Dame, but it has slightly spoilt its copybook by having a Subway chain store built beside it, and a recent repaint that’s left it with a faint scent of faux.

So I’ve settled on a new official favourite, Le Nemours on Place Colette. It is tucked under a grand classical arcade beside the Comédie Française.

The menu is pretty standard fare: various croques, sandwiches and salads, although the names for these are given a local touch. La Molière is what is called elsewhere country salad; La Comedienne is prety much Nicoise.

Inside the long narrow room is decorated with paintings of grand era of 19th-century theatre. And miracle or miracles this is nonfumeur (non-smoking) – a rare such space to be treasured, although often very full.

But if the weather is fine pick your seat carefully outside – Americans can be annoying to listen to but they are rarely smokers so you won’t get caught in the slipstream.

Look out on the wonderfully mad Metro entrance, quite possibly at the queue for the cheap late tickets for the Comédie, should you be here late afternoon, and at the lovely highbrow bookshops across the square.
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