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Visiting Tourcoing, France and its railroad station: a French national monument and tribute to Belle Epoque confidence

Updated on May 10, 2012
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Tourcoing railroad station
Tourcoing railroad station | Source
Map location of Tourcoing, France
Map location of Tourcoing, France | Source

Sombre memories also

For more than a century, the relatively ornate lines of the railroad station at Tourcoing, France, have been a local landmark.

Some history and features

Dating from 1905, this building which is now designated a French national monument, has witnessed times of confidence.

The architect Sydney Dunnett, also known for his work on Lille-Flandres railroad station, was responsible for the building. Dating from a period when Tourcoing's textile industry was booming, the expansive station facility, with its clock turret and symmetrical, mansard wings, exudes a sense of economic buoyancy and a certain grace redolent of the Belle Epoque period when ornate architectural flair had yet to give way to widespread functionalism that was to follow the psychological and economic shock of World War One. It is thought that Architect Dunnett was influenced by the design of the railroad station of neighbouring Roubaix.

Originally, one of the wings of the elongated building contained an hotel; the other housed a post office.

In World War One, Tourcoing was occupied by German forces and the railroad was an important communications facility.

Especially sombre historical times were witnessed by the station in World War Two, when, as generally in coutries occupied by Nazi Germany, a wholesale policy of deportations was regularly applied. A particularly notorious event occurred in September 1944, when 841 prisoners were deported to Germany from here. A proportion of these prisoners were transferred to Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps.

Tourcoing's railroad station is situated at rue Pierre Sémard. The cobbled road surface is a particular characteristic of the square at the station approach.

Contemporary railroad services

The high-speed French TVG trains, maintained by the French railroad company SNCF, extend to Tourcoing.

Being located close to the border with Belgium, services to a number of Belgian destinations are maintained from the station in collaboration with the Belgian railroad company SNCB / NMBS.

Also worth seeing

In Tourcoing itself, other noted buildings include: the city hall; Saint-Christophe church; the belfry; Art Déco architecture at avenue Gustave Dron .

Roubaix (distance: 4.6 kilometres) has a remarkable city hall.

...

How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. Brussels is the nearest large airport to Tourcoing (distance: 172 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company SNCB / NMBS and the French railroad company SNCF maintain a service between Brussels and Tourcoing. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel gent. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

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