Meet Me At Montparnasse: I've always thought it would make a very romantic title for a novel. But having passed through the station four times in the past ten days, I can safely say that there is nothing at all romantic about this ugly, grey concrete bunker of a building.
It manages to assault all the senses simultaneously: the screech of TGVs pulling in and out of the station; the unwelcome contact with other people's wheelie cases as they cut across your path; the smell of fosse septique (the onboard toilets) wafting up from the tracks and the cloud of cigarette smoke from the huddle of smokers around each train door. Oh and if you're hungry, there are the overpriced, stodgy sandwiches from Paul to look forward to or the plastic wrapped on-board fare. (Why is the food at railway stations always so bad?)
It's unremittingly grey and bleak. (Even the discovery of the salle Pascale, the secret, much calmer salle d'attente on the first floor, accessed by lifts on each of the platforms, does little to improve the experience.) Many times I've wished that my train arrived at/departed from the Gare d'Austerliz or the Gare de Lyon. What's the solution? Other than not going to Paris or moving south - admittedly an extreme measure to avoid a railway station - I don't know.