Visiting Paris-Gallieni Station, Bagnolet, France and the Nearby Parc de Bagnolet: Arrivals and Homecomings
Greenery, movement and aspirations
[This visit occurred a number of years ago.]
The Parc de Bagnolet originally encompassed the Château de Bagnolet, but like many other buildings dating from the Ancien Régime the Château did not survive the French Revolutionary era, now over 200 years past. The 26 hectare park now functions as a welcome, green lung on the edge of the Parisian metropolis.
For numerous foreign travellers to the Paris area, Bagnolet is the first locality that they will see when they approach the great French metropolis.
This is because Paris-Gallieni International Coach Station is situated here.
Actuallly there are two stations at Bagnolet: one is the Eurolines coach station, and the other is Gallieni (Paris Métro), providing underground train links to the City Centre of Paris. A subtitle of the Métro Station is Parc de Bagnolet (which in recent years has been called Parc départemental Jean-Moulin les Guilands) (1). From the very title of the park it is thus apparent that the local administrative unit is not the City of Paris but the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. So although the Paris-Gallieni station is technically a misnomer, only the pedantic would seriously object to the name because it is a gateway to huge numbers of visitors — not least back-backing young people — from around the world who are arriving to see the French capital.
But the character of Bagnolet also has strong international dimension among its residents. The municipality is closely identified with support for the status of Palestine. In 2013 the Municipality elected the Lebanese prisoner and activist for Palestine Georges Ibrahim Abdallah (1951-) an honorary citizen of Bagnolet; in 2014, this measure was quashed by a superior administrative body. The Municipality is officially twinned with the UN-sponsored Shatila (French spelling: Chatila) Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut, Lebanon. Another locality with which Bagnolet is twinned is Oranienburg, Germany, where regular solemn commemorations are held at Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen concentration camp for the victims of Nazism. A local community hall in Bagnolet is named for Anne Frank.
Thus at Bagnolet there are strongly multicultural strands of civic identity and multifarious strivings for community values, as variously defined. Or to state it differently: arriving at Bagnolet is a truly republican experience; not just as a place of transit but as a homecoming for its residents drawn from worldwide (2).
Indeed, the naming of the adjacent park for French World War Two hero Jean Moulin is itself yet another exercise in strong, republican aspirations.
May 15, 2020
(1) The park extends across territory of the municipalities of both Bagnolet and Montreuil.
(2) A history of the town of Bagnolet may be accessed at (in French) : https://ville-bagnolet.fr/index.php/lhistoire-de-la-ville.html
Also worth seeing
In Bagnolet itself, the former Mairie dating from 1881, with mansard roofing and Neoclassical features, is a fine building; the skyline at Bagnolet is known for its twin towers known as les Mercuriales.
Paris (approx. distance from Bagnolet: 5.1 kilometres) The huge and absorbing variety of visitor attractions in Paris are impossible to summarize with adequacy. But the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Bourbon Palace, the Louvre, and the Paris Opera would be included in any list of the most popular sights, among many others.
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle), where car rental is available; but public transport in the Paris region is excellent. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services from Paris-Charles de Gaulle to Downtown Paris from whence Métro line 3 serves Gallieni at Bagnolet. Eurolines, with its major Paris-Gallieni coach station at Bagnolet, serves many European cities. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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