Gare Montparnasse train station in Paris
The Gare Montparnasse is one of the main train stations in Paris that accommodates around 50 million commuters each year, but is on a completely different site to the original station, and was only built within the 1960s, yet even has a garden above.
A bit of history on Gare Montparnasse train station
The original station was called the Gare de l’Ouest and was first constructed in 1840, but a second station was then built between 1848 and 1852 and also changed its name to the Gare Montparnasse.
Unfortunately though, the Gare Montparnasse became famous for the accident that occurred in the October of 1895 when the Granville-Paris express steam train did not stop and crashed through the station, plummeting onto the Place de Rennes below. And pictures plus stories of this event have been used many times, just like in one of the Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends TV series, the film adaption of Hugo along with a recreation of the crash in a steam museum in Brazil.
The next and probably the most important event at the Gare Montparnasse train station that is often mentioned in the history of Paris and those studying World War II, is the fact that General Philippe Leclerc utilised the train station as his base and managed to capture the German commander, General Von Cholitz. And this is where he signed the surrender and some twenty ceasefire orders on 24 August 1944, which led to the Liberation of Paris on that very same day.
But with urban planning initiatives that were put in place for the city of Paris and the fact that the station, as it was, would not be able to accommodate the amount of commuters in the future, it was decided that a new train station had to be constructed, which was started in the early 1960s.
An extension to the newly sited train station was built in 1990 in order to accommodate the TGV express trains and then in 1994, the impressive Jardin Atlantique was constructed above the railway lines and the Gare Montparnasse station, which must have proved to an architectural nightmare initially. But that very same year on the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris, there were two museums also opened above the station dedicated to World War II, which are called the Memorial du Marachel Leclerc de Hauteclocque et de la Liberation de Paris and the Musee Jean Moulin dedicated to the French resistance fighter Jean Moulin.
About Gare Montparnasse Today
The Gare Montparnasse train station is one of the six main stations in Paris that services around 50 million commuters each year and serves the Brittany region of France and the Atlantic coastline right through to the Spanish border along with international destinations such as Belgium and Germany.
It also provides access to the Metro station called Montparnasse - Bienvenue with the lines 4, 6 12 and 13 being serviced along with other trains that go to different parts of France and around the Ile de France region. And in fact the Gare Montparnasse is split into three different stations called Maine, Pasteur and Vaugirard with the metro and local trains departing from Maine.
When you enter this train station on the ground level you will find different stairs and escalators that will get you to the upper levels for the Grandes Lignes for the TGV trains etc and even though there are plenty of automated machines where you can purchase train tickets, there are also three different ticket offices located at the Gare Montparnasse as well.
The first ticket office is for those that require a ticket for an almost immediate departure on the TGV trains or the more local commuter trains, then there is another that provides tickets for destinations to different cities all over France like Bordeaux in the Aquitaine region or Toulouse in the Midi-Pyrenees region. The third ticket office is there for those that wish to travel to an international destination such as Italy or the Netherlands, etc and this is called the Espace de Vente.
And to give you an idea, whatever ticket you purchase, on this it will state what station you are going to depart from, eg Vaugirard, etc and the ticket offices are open from 6.30am through to 8pm on a Monday to Friday, but weekends do have shorter hours, with a Sunday opening at 10am.
As with all the main train stations in Paris, there are several shops and boutiques along with places to get a quick bite to eat, plus there are rental car companies such as Avis, Hertz and Europcar, so that you can organise your car hire prior to arrival at your destination or for getting around the city of Paris.
However, for something a bit unusual, if you have a bit of time before your train leaves, why no pop up to the Jardin Atlantique, which is the landscaped garden located above the train lines that can be accessed via stairs to the left of the TGV lines or via lifts outside the station. Plus if you are interested in the history of Paris and especially World War II, then you will also be able to discover the Memorial du Marachel Leclerc de Hauteclocque et de la Liberation de Paris along with the Musee Jean Moulin dedicated to the French resistance fighter, that is also located by the Atlantic Garden.
There is also a left luggage area for storing baggage, however, as of 2013 the Gare Montparnasse, Gare St Lazare and the Gare d’Austerlitz have closed these due to some security measures. But if this is something that you really do need for storing suitcases, etc while on a short holiday to Paris, then you would need to consider utilising the Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est or the Gare de Lyon, which are the other three main train stations in Paris.
Access to Gare Montparnasse train station in Paris
Located in the 15 Arrondissement of Paris, there is an entrance to the Gare Montparnasse on Rue du Pont des Cinq Martyrs that provides access to the Pasteur Station along with another on Boulevard Vaugirard that provides access to Maine, and both of these also have a rapid pick-up and drop off point located here.
Secure undercover car parking with a fee payable is available at Parking Pasteur with access via Rue du Pont des Cinq Martyrs and Parking Oceane, which is accessed via Rue du Depart.
However, if you have arrived at the Gare Montparnasse, say for example by metro, yet you need to get to the Orly Airport or the Charles de Gaulle Airport, then there is a shuttle bus service available. Supplied by Air France at a reasonable cost, the shuttle bus leaves from the Rue du Commandant Rene Mouchotte by the Hotel Meridien approximately every 30 minutes, 7 days a week from around 7am to 9pm.