Normandy Train Station Named as One of Best in France

Detail from fresco at Deauville station

Detail from fresco at Deauville station

A Normandy train station has been named as one of the best in France, most notably for its architecture and two historical frescoes painted by Louis Houpin whose posters are now highly collectable.

The station which serves the coastal towns of Deauville and Trouville is built in a traditional Norman style with a typical timber framed style and comes third on a list of best stations in France compiled by the travel guide Lonely Planet.

The two paintings where done in 1932, just a year after the station was opened and show a map of the two towns and a map of Normandy. Houpin became a very popular illustrator and his tourism posters are sought after by vintage collectors.

In top place is the station at Strasbourg which was given first position because of its glass extension built in 2007 for the arrival of the high speed TGV trains. It is in stark contrast to the original station with its wooden panels and inlaid tiled floors but when it is lit up at night the extension is described as magical.

In second place is Metz. Built during the time of Emperor William II, it is one of the largest stations in France covering an area of 300 meters by 200 meters. The stonework is pink granite and it is an example of the Romanesque revival style with intricate capitals, sculptures, statues and stained glass.

Perpignan station was voted into fourth place behind Deauville. It is famous for being declared the ‘centre of the universe’ by Spanish painter Dali after he experienced a vision there in 1963. Part of it was decorated by Dali and there is a statue of him on the top of the roof. Indeed, the painter said he was often inspired by sitting in the station lobby.

Next is La Rochelle which is described as one of the most elegant in France with its marine wildlife frescoes. It was listed as an historic monument in 1984 and was designed by Pierre Esquié in 1910.

Chamonix comes next, built in 1901 to give easier access to the town for the growing number of winter sport tourists, skiers and mountaineers. It is described as having iconic Alpine architecture with its pretty windows and wooden roof. It is famous for its rail line to the Mer de Glace, a glacier above the town that sweeps down from near the summit of Mont Blanc.

The next on the list is a less well known station, that of Niolon in the south of France overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The rail line from Marseilles to the town clings along the cliff and goes through 23 tunnels and passes over 18 viaducts.

Finally, art deco Lens station is on the list because of its architecture and clock tower, designed in 1926 by Urbain Cassan in the shape of a steam locomotive. It is now classed as a historic monument. A mosaic mural inside the station depicts the area’s mining and industrial heritage.

About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as, Property World Middle East and websites for estate agents. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.

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