15 thoughts on “The watcher notices, it’s him that’s being watched by another watcher. Gare du Nord, Paris, France. 2009”

  1. Razz, You watched not to watchers in uniform before you, but you and probably Engogirl waited for the arrival of fellow blogger Epicurienne, to meet and greet and eat at Sorza. And why at Gare de Nord, a very well-known European station for me? ‘Cause she will come by high-speed Eurostar.

  2. I remember running at full throttle through there in a desperate (and failed) attempt to catch our train some years ago. Such fun. The only difference was that it was May 1st, so all the uniformed watchers were outside dealing with demonstrators. Ah, Paris!

  3. Joost

    Thanks for dropping by again. You’re right, I took the photos while I was waiting for Eipcurienne.


    It funny how things change and how they don’t. I’d been there before in 1982 and it all seemed so different. The fact of the matter is that it’s my memory that has faded and changed.


    Threre were so many amy guys there that it was hard to take any photos without them in it. You’re right though, taking photos of such people can land you in hot water. I should know, because I’ve been there.


  4. Razz,

    At Gare du Nord, in any case, you could see other trains. In 1982, the TGV only runs between Paris and Lyon. For Brussels, Cologne or Amsterdam you could ride the first-class only Trans-Europe-Express with French stainless steel cars. At the continent, a common British name for Europe without the UK, the Trans-Europ-Express was the most luxury train. Daytime-only trains, First Class only with supplement and restaurant car, perfectly suited for business travellers who wants to travel without driving a car. A few TEE trains even had a dome car, well-known from American and Canadien long distance trains. If the Great Southern Railway or the Queensland Railway will improve their services, I recommend to add dome cars to the Ghan, the Indian Pacific and the Sunlander. The father of the TEE was the president of the Netherlands Railways in the 50s, Mr Den Hollander.

    A cheaper option were ordinary international trains, during the summer in second class full of young backpack tourists with Interrail rovers. First Class is the European name for business class. And second class is the European name for standard class, aka cattle class or tourist class. In the steam era, real cattle class was third class with wooden benches. Except the English Midland Railway. During the late 19th century, they replaced the wooden third class benches by more comfortable seats.

    Today, the stainless French TEE cars are exported second-hand to Cuba for long-distance trains. In Europe they are replaced by TGV EMU’s. Now the irony: Today Oz have a first-class only train, in Queensland, the Oz version of the US South. The Tilt Train, the tilting DMU between Brisbane and Cairns provides business class only. The electric Tilt Trains have first and standard Class, but they couldn’t run north of Rockhampton ’cause north there’s is no catenary.

    In the 80s, before Channel tunnel, TGV Nord and Eurostar, if you wanted to go to the UK from France, you had to catch a train to Boulogne or Calais, change to a ferry and in Dover or Folkestone catch a third rail electric train to Victoria or Charing Cross through the countryside of Kent. It was a long journey. But also overnight was possible. From 1936 to 1980, with the exception of WWII, a through sleeper was available, from Paris Nord or Brussels Midi to London Victoria. The Night Ferry. No need for change at the coastal ports. Between Dunkirk (France) and Dover the sleeping-cars were put on the ferry. Suburban transport was provided by double-deck coaches and gray-black coaches with orange doors provided Corail services, mostly from Paris to every corner and a few cross-country services.

    2009: The TEE and later EuroCity, TEE with standard class are for ten years replaced by TGV trains, overnight trains from Gare du Nord are gone. Ordinary locomotive-pulled trains are only used for regional long-distance services, most are replaced by EMU’s and DMU’s. The old double-deck coaches for suburban services disappeard too – replaced by new double-deck ones for the Translinien services. Today, 500 km is possible in 3.20 hours. High speed rail for Sydney – Melbourne (950 km) means 6 hours. A strong competitioner for the airlines on this route, and much better than the 11 hour-rail trip by XPT in 2009. It’s time for real high speed in Oz. A alignment is also simply: between the carriageways of the Hume freeway (M31/Route 31)

    Yours, Joost

  5. Joost

    Thanks for such a long and informative comment.

    My only regret with my latest trip to Europe is that we didn’t travel on any of the high speed trains. I loved the Shinkansen in Japan and I’ve been on them several times.

    I agree that Australia would benefit from high speed trains but I don’t think that there is the political will do something that makes so much sense for this country. On one hand Australia is quite advanced in a lot of ways but when it comes to the doing the right thing for the environment and moving to cleaner ways to travel, we are still in the stone age. Australians are just like the Americans in that we are in love with our gas guzzling cars.

    One of the problems we have here is that the railway gauges aren’t standardised between the states plus our population doesn’t really have a bigger enough tax base to pay to totally change everything over.

    Some people feel that Australia needs about another 50 million people to create an economy that would make such expenses justifiable. Unfortunately I think that’s the wrong solution, taking into consideration that in only 200 hundred years with our small population there is only 2% of our old growth forests left and we killed off and made extinct over 200 different kinds of animals. If our population was 50 or 70 million people instead of it’s current 20 million, it would be a disaster for the Australian environment.

    The size of Australia is a blessing and a curse.

  6. And the memories of that day go on!
    Did that army bloke say anything when he saw you taking the photo?
    I love travelling by train, pretty much anywhere EXCEPT in the UK where the fares are a total rip-off. We once went on a train from the Gare du Nord to Brussels and the gradually changing scenery and building styles were fascinating to observe. The train was also incredibly comfortable with the standard seats benefitting from decent pitch, plenty of room in which to park one’s derriere and little curtains.
    Remember when we walked away from the Gare du Nord and I pointed out the Gare de l’Est from where all the trains heading in the direction of Germany depart? Then there’s the Gare de Lyon from where long-distance trains head towards and through Lyon – it was built for the expo of 1900, same as the Eiffel Tower. There’s the Gare d’Austerlitz nearby in the SE of Paris. That one services the south western (duck) regions and further west there’s the Gare Montparnasse for western and (more) south-western destinations inc Bordeaux (the wine guzzler’s train), and finally, not far from Galeries Lafayette there is the Gare Saint Lazare with trains heading to coastal places like Le Havre and Dieppe.
    There’s even the Musee d’Orsay which used to be a terminus for south-western trains (duck country is busy, apparently) and which was also built for the Paris Expo of 1900 but which had platforms which were soon too short for the longer trains that were being made by the end of the ’30s. So they took away the regional services which demanded the longer trains, kept some suburban and postal services – It’s said that in war-time (WWII) it was used for the despatch of mail and parcels to prisoners of war and as a reception station for those who returned. And finally, in 1986 it was reopened as a museum for (mainly) French impressionist art. Now, how’s that for a bit of French train (station) spotting? Next time you come to Europe you’ll have to ditch the car for a week or so and go train-hopping!

  7. Ok, it’s not often that a comment has as much great info as this, epic! Train stuff! Love it love it love it. Once when I lived in Germany and visited London I was waiting for the train back to Heidelberg and a man came up to me and asked if I’d care to accompany him on his barge, yes, barge is what he said, back to Germany. So train stations are barge stations as well. I declined the opportunity to set sail with the captain.

  8. Nicolaï

    I think you might be right 😉

    There were so many soldiers there that it was hard to take a photo, without them in it.


    No he didn’t, but his glare and body language said enough.

    I think you’re right about our next trip and we’ll have to take some of those trains. It’s been interesting seeing the Eurostar on the news here in Australia lately with the breakdowns in the tunnel.


    Just think of the stories you could tell about going on a barge trip. I used to work with a woman who lived with a Turkish sea captain and had a torrid love affair with him for about six months on his ship in the Mediterranean.

    It didn’t kill her, it only made her more interesting!

  9. Epic, don’t tell me about expensive British trains, especially your Heathow Express is expensive. £16.50 for a 15-minute-trip is robbery. Luckily, there’s is an alternetive, The Heathrow Connect, a stopping service. Nine minutes slower, but £10 cheaper. And forget Virgin or National Express East Coast. For Brum take the Chiltern from Marylebone Station, also from that station departs the Wrexham and Shropshire train to Shrewsbury and Wrexham with decent food and without expensive tickets. A small company, not like Virgin. A similar company operates trains from Kings Cross to York and Sunderland, the Grand Central.

    Razz, We’re totaly agreed about high speed trains benefits. Other reason is the long waiting time at malls with runstrips aka airports. Sometimes you must come three hours before take-off. Trains, even high-speed, mostly brings you from city centre to city centre. Unfortunality many politicans and voters are addicted to gaz-guzzlings cars, especially fake-fourwheel drives known as SUVs who never enters a unsurfaced track. So they wouldn’t understand this simple facts and only need big gaz guzzling cars of cattle class flights, no trams, no underground, no suburban rail, no luxury trains.

    Eurostar was not the only one with breakdown. A small bit of snow was enough to bring a big breakdown over the Dutch rail network. Last Thursday I couldn’t come home from work – normally it’s a trip of only an hour. Some cattle stations in Australia are larger than the whole Netherlands, we live with 16 million on a surface of 37,400 square kilometers or 14,400 square miles. Last Sunday no train services were available. Yesterday and today there’s only stopping services, fast trains were withdrawn for ‘reasons of bad weather’. With weather, usual in Switzerland, Austria and Russia. It’s a big laugh from abroad, all our surrounding countries, Belgium and Germany, could run trains as usual and we Dutch can’t. Cross-border trains, even high-speed ones, came to halt when crossing the Dutch border. So laugh as much as you like and have a good day.

    Yours, Joost

  10. Joost

    One of the reasons why I didn’t go to the UK on my last trip is that I see the country as “lacking value”. Very high prices for very low quality.

    Don’t get me started on those stupid huge SUVs (like Hummers) because I’ll just start foaming at the mouth and I’ll rant on for hours about how crazy they are and how foolish the people who drive them are. I can understand having all wheel drive in countries that have lots of snow or dirt roads but unfortunately so many people buy really big ones that are way beyond what they need.

    One of the interesting observations I heard about the really big SUVs, is that as the price of petrol goes up, a lot of people will get rid of them and they will be so cheap second hand that a lot of kids without much money will buy them as their first cars. This means that in the future there will be heaps of inexperienced drivers, driving huge, heavy and dangerous vehicles. Dangerous to pedestrians and to other drivers. It will be a disaster.

    By the way, I never laugh when I see things like the Eurostar breaking down, I just thank my lucky stars that I don’t live in a country that gets so cold. Although, it gets so hot here in the summer that I wish it was cooler here.

  11. Razz, Maybe UK is expensive for Oz travellers and too familiair for Australians. But the Euro is very strong compared to the pound sterling and the dollar. This year my holiday in Scotland was not so expensive as UK used to be. Five, ten years ago UK was far more expensive. UK still prefer pound sterling. For me, the pound was very cheap so the decision was quickly made. UK is more than London, outside the capital the price vs quality is better. But London was expensive – until the financial bubble crashed.

    Yes, Oz can be really hot, especially during December and January. Sunny and Hot Christmas and New Year, differs from Canada and Scandinavia who lives in the dark and cold by december. Here in the Netherlands it will be dark at five-thirty afternoon. More coldy weather will be come to us. Skating on ice will be possible :)

    Have a good 2010

  12. Joost

    Scotland is a place I would like to visit and one day I may go there.

    I’m going to a friend’s place tonight who lives on Sydney harbour to watch the fireworks tonight, so it should be a good night and the plus is that I don’t have to drive home!

  13. Is that their guards or is it army? At first glance, this photo is a tad worrying haha! Did you hear about what happened with the Eurotrain services by the way? They had problems because of all this snow, although the services were only reduced, not cancelled. I got back from holiday yesterday and we had taken the Eurotrain, so we missed the trouble.

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