Location, Location, Location – Paris Gare du Nord

In the heart of the busiest station in Paris, French Railways (SNCF) has partnered with workplace provider Regus to offer an oasis of calm.

The new business centre at the Gare du Nord, located on the second and third floors of the building behind platform 14, has a bird’s eye view over the station and is a stone’s throw from the Eurostar terminal. It offers fully equipped coworking desk spots and individual offices for rent by the hour, day, month, or year.

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Photo credit: D.Santrot/SNCF

Meeting rooms are also available and all customers – individuals,  start-ups, members of larger companies… – can relax and network in a lounge fit for a king, or an emperor.

The new business centre comprises a 16-seat conference room, 20 individual offices,  a large, open-plan coworking space, and a sumptuous lounge.

“The devil is in the detail,” said SNCF president Guillaume Pepy at at the inauguration this 7 June.

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He was referring to the lounge, the undisputed pièce de résistance, the jewel in the crown of this new business facility. Originally designed in 1864 as reception rooms (salon d’honneur) for emperor Napoleon III,  features include an imposing black marble fireplace, high ceilings and intricate cornicing, chandeliers (old-meets-new), vast mirrors, tall windows, and the luxury of… space.

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The station is a listed building. Hence the restoration and renovation work to shine a light on the former glory of the salon was subject to stringent rules and regulations. “The task took time and money, but was well worth it,” said Regus CEO and founder Mark Dixon.

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The SNCF-Regus partnership for business centres also covers rail stations in the French cities of Bordeaux, Le Mans, and Nancy. Lille Flandres and Amiens are on the cards for end-2017.

XXL – bigger and better

Mr Pepy also took advantage of the launch to confirm a 300 million euro revamp and extension of Gare du Nord, scheduled for completion in time for the 2024 Olympics Paris has in its sights.

Funding for the modernisation programme will be provided in part by a public–private partnership (PPP).

The biggest and oldest station in Paris, the current-day building opened to the public in April 1864. Used by over 700 000 passengers and 2,100 trains a day it is now seriously undersized and in need of a major overhaul.

Red carpet treatment

As part of the facelift, the station will be decluttered to better reveal its Haussmann credentials (the signature architecture of Paris), the Eurostar area extended where a taxi rank currently operates, and the whole interior resurfaced.

The latter task will prove no mean feat, even if it extends to just public footfall zones. The total surface area of the Gare du Nord is 80,000 square metres, the equivalent of 11 football pitches on 5 levels. “Yes, it will be a costly operation, but one that shouldn’t be underestimated,” said Patrick Ropert, managing director of Gares & Connexions. “First impressions really do count.”

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In February 2017, Eurostar opened its new Business lounge at Gare du Nord.

Another station gem in Paris is Le Train Bleu.

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