Paris Gare Saint-Lazare is an enormous station, but more than 95% of the trains that depart from it are local trains, on the busy Transilien network of commuter lines in Paris.
Asa result of these commuter lines, the station is particularly busy between 16:00 and 18:30 and the thousands of people rushing through the station can seem overwhelming.
If you are first time user, at the station during these times resist going with the flow and take your time, but try to avoid getting in the way.
Though during the mornings Saint Lazare station is a comparatively calm location from which to take a train, because it draws people into the city like a magnet, but fewer people will be heading away from Paris.
The main street level part of the Gare Saint Lazare s divided into two sections;
(1) the Metro concourse - this is behind the departure concourse in the main station building.
If you arrive by Metro or RER, the escalators and lifts will lead you up to this part of the station.
It's also where most of the shops in the station are located.
(2) the departure concourse which is on the other side of the main station building, in front of the voies (platforms/tracks) which the trains depart from.
The voies (platforms/tracks) are at street level.
It’s likely that you will be heading away from Paris on an Intercité or TER train and these longer distance trains nearly always depart from voies (plafforms/tracks) 19 – 27.
These are on the far right of the departure concourse - when you enter the station from its front entrance.
If you are arriving at Saint-Lazare by Metro or RER and taking an Intercité or TER, look for the signs pointing the way to the ‘Grande Lignes’ (long distance trains).
The escalators, that you will come to, will then take you up to the the end of the Metro concourse closest to where the Intercité and TER trains will depart from.
Turn left when you step off the escalator and walk through to the departure concourse.
The voies/platforms/tracks will be ahead of you and the Grandes Lignes ticket office will be over to the right.
There will also be ticket machines in this part of the concourse that will sell tickets for ‘Grande Lignes’ journeys by IC and TER train.
Though most of the ticket machines in the station are marked ‘Ile-De-France’ and these won’t sell tickets for the Intercités trains.
Connecting to Paris Nord from Saint Lazare:
Take RER Line E, there are trains every 5-10 mins to Magenta station, which is linked to the Gare Du Nord by a passage way.
Any Line E train will call at Magenta, it’s the first station that the trains will call at.
The journey will only take around 5 mins, so it’s not worthwhile finding a seat on the train, particularly if you have luggage.
There are short passage ways at both mainline stations connecting them to the RER, but this is a comparatively straightforward transfer.
Connecting to Paris Est from Saint Lazare
This is an awkward transfer as there are no direct metro or RER lines that link the Gare De L’Est and Gare St Lazare.
If you have luggage then a taxi can be worth every cent.
The easiest option is to first take a RER Line E to Magenta station, any Line E train will call at Magenta, it’s the first station that the trains will call at and the journey will only take around 5 mins.
From Magenta station walk down a comparatively short passage way to the Gare Du Nord.
From Gare Du Nord take Metro Line 5 (and not Metro Line 4) one stop to Gare de l’est (direction Place d’Italie).
You should be at Paris Est within 25 mins of arriving at Saint-Lazare.
Connecting to Paris Lyon/Gare De Lyon from Saint Lazare
On the Metro/RER map you will see a fat RER line leading from Saint-Lazare to the Gare De Lyon, but don’t take it, take Metro Line 14 instead.
The RER train will depart from Auber station, which is linked by a long underground passage way from Saint-Lazare.
It will take more than 10 mins to reach the platform at Auber from stepping off the train at Saint-Lazare.
The Metro Line 14 is less busy (generally) and also has a less chaotic transfer at the Gare De Lyon.
The challenge at Saint-Lazare is accessing the Metro Line 14 platforms if you have luggage.
Somebody thought a large spiral staircase would be more useful than escalators, so the lift can be busy and seemingly have a mind of its own – so have patience.
You can take any train from Saint-Lazare, it’s a terminating station for Line 14.
Connecting to Gare Montparnasse from Saint Lazare:
This is a transfer that looks straightforward as Metro Line 12 (direction Mairie d’Issy) provides a direct link between Saint-Lazare and Montparnasse.
However, at Montparnasse-Bienvenüe, the line 12 platforms are some distance from the exit from the metro, there is a long passage way, so long it has a moving walkway.
And at St Lazare the same situation applies, the metro stops at Hausmann- St Lazare station and there is a long passage way to there from Gare Saint-Lazare.
In the summer, making the transfer can be particularly uncomfortable, temperatures can soar at both main line stations, on the train and in the passage ways.
This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.