Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles
History and museums
Marseille – Saint-Charles is the main railway station and intercity bus station of Marseille. It is the southern terminus of the Paris–Marseille railway. It opened on 8 January 1848, having been built for the PLM on the land of the Saint Charles Cemetery. The station is perched on top of a small hill and is linked to the city centre by a monumental set of stairs. Since 2001, when the TGV reduced dramatically the travel time between Marseille and northern France, traffic increased (7.1 million annual passengers in 2000 to 15 million in 2007) and the station is currently the 11th busiest in France.
The station was once a key stage on the sea voyage to Africa, the Middle-East and the Far East, before the popularisation of flying. To the rear of the station along Boulevard Voltaire was the goods yard which was used up until the end of the 1990s by the SNCF's road freight operations, Sernam. The station, originally isolated from the city, was equipped with a grand staircase, envisioned by Eugène Senès in 1911 and opened in 1926. It is bordered by statues inspired by all the distant locations to which people sailed from Marseille's port.
Saint-Charles has 14 terminal platforms and four tracks which run through, all equipped with 1500 V DC overhead wire. Tracks run in various directions, towards Ventimiglia, the north, Briançon, and the harbour station of La Joliette.
A first extension was opened after World War II. The buildings on the north side had been destroyed and were rebuilt to house the administration offices of the SNCF. A new between level was opened to enhance the flow of passengers.
At the end of the 1990s a redevelopment project began with the opening of the Marseille underground and bus interchange as well as the arrival of the TGV Méditerranée. Since 2001 new underground parking lots and a tunnel have allowed the station to be renewed. A new hall, the Halle Honnorat, was created housing shops and services. The displacement of the regional coach station on the other side of the station allowed a new pedestrian square to be created, between the station and the Aix-Marseille University site of Saint-Charles. New pedestrian spaces with cafe terraces have also been created atop the grand stairs. Its filthy railyard is covered in litter and discarded equipment.
Paulin Talabot started the Marseille-Avignon line.
The station is served by the following services: