Eclectic and gentrified. Yes, that is probably the best way to describe Grand Train but I’ve seen worse in the city of light and actually I rather enjoyed the venue which seemed to me to be family friendly, particularly if you arrived as early as we did – the price of having a 2.5 year old.
This is not the first site the city has decided to transform, whether permanently or temporarily into new spaces, unused portions of their railway stations. Apparently we can expect some more unused rail stations to be turned into bars and galleries in the near future – maybe even some of the fantom metro stations. The 18th district seems to be the hub for a number of them from the Le Recyclerie at the Porte de Clignancourt to La Station at the Porte d’Aubervilliers and of course the Grand Train, which is actually part of the Gare du Nord station, not far from the metro station Marcadet Poissonier.
I may very well go and check out all these venues but the one that I have been to so far is the Grand Train located in rue Ordener not far from Cook’n With Class Paris. As the name indicated this is about the trains – well at least in part.
As Invisible Paris put it, what kid doesn’t like trains – I can count a few adults as well who would be enthralled with the number of old trains that are found on site. Not to mention the miniatures and the model railroad sets – I’ve always dreamed of having one of those, big enough to pass from one room to the next.
The site is quite popular with the 30-40 something crowd with or without their 1.5 kids in tow. Chicken coop, trendy fast food and a bouncer or two at the door and you have the makings of an open-air “day/night club”. From chicken and waffles – yup you read me correctly, to Dad dogs (no clue what daddy has to do with these hot dogs), to beer and lots of it, there was certainly that neo-parisian urban vibe in the place.
Personally I assumed the security was due to all the insanity that we have been living through this last year but apparently it is a selective process at the gate? Probably not when you are arriving with a child and a stroller – the latter is rather impractical given the stairs you need to take down.
There are various nooks to wander through and it actually did not look to me as if you could not technically bring your own food – don’t think the bag check is searching for that.
If you arrive early enough you can catch the organic market that they have at the entrance. I’m so spoiled in the south with organic options that I don’t necessarily get all excited when I see this in Paris – it just simply makes sense.
As we left – bedtime for the little guy, we noted the extremely long queue outside waiting to get in. Considering it was already 9:30/10PM and the place is said to close at 11:30PM, I thought these folks were rather ambitious. Not sure how they decide how many people in or out but we were happy that we did not have to wait at all.
You can count on:
Trains and lots of them
Slightly pricy eats – with a few vegetarian options
Kids running around chasing each other
Revelry makers just chilling
Wine & beer
The Grand Train is open now through October 2016 and does give a respite from the urban jungle even with the looming high-rises perched over it. It is said that the site is up for demolition to make room for more housing in the city. But who knows.
modified 27 August 2016 – a previous version of this post wrongly stated that the Grand Train was an unused train station of the SNCF, it is actually part of Gare du Nord and was formerly a maintenance depot