Paris Austerlitz was once the primary station in Paris for trains heading to the south-west of France, but it wasn’t connected to the high speed lines, so this loss of its former prestige had meant the station was a tad neglected.
However, a welcome modernisation program is underway.
The plan is that some of the TGV trains which currently use the Gare De Lyon and the Gare Montparnasse, will ultimately be switched to using Austerlitz.
The voies (platforms/tracks) 1 - 7 which they will eventually utilise have already been constructed, but the Intercités and TER trains from Austerlitz are currently using them, because the gorgeous, older train shed which they typically depart from, is being refurbished.
However, these voies (platforms/tracks) 1 - 7 are farther from the main concourse, so it's a good idea to allow at least 7 minutes when making a connection from the metro or RER trains.
Because the trains to Bordeaux (and beyond) were moved to Montparnasse station, the gare d'Austerlitz had begun to resemble something akin to a living museum to past glories of train travel, particularly when seen from its line 5 Metro station.
However, a modernisation program is underway, that should reflect the fact that some long distance trains still do depart from Austerlitz train station.
Despite the building works the station is comparatively easy to navigate, particularly compared to some of the other major stations in Paris - once you're inside the station.
It’s a classic terminus train station, meaning that that voies (platforms/tracks) are on the same level as the concourse, which is at street level - so there is step free access between the station concourse and the taxi ranks and adjacent bus stops.
What isn't step-free, for the moment, is the access between the main station and the RER and Metro stations - hopefully this situation will be remedied by the building works.
The RER trains give good connections to/from the left bank area of the city - but steps have to be used to transit between the RER station and the main station concourse.
Metro Lines 5 and 10 also have separate stops at Austerlitz - line 5 above ground and line 10 below ground.
Steps provide the only access between both Metro stations and the main station concourse/ticket hall.
So if you have heavy luggage or reduced mobility, then taxis can be the best option of travelling to/from Austerlitz station.
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