The bookshop La vie du rail has moved. For many years, it was in a tiny shop in an obscure corner of a major Paris railway station, Gare Saint-Lazare, as shown here in my photos from ten years ago.
But since my last visit, the bookshop seems to have moved to larger premises at 29, rue de Clichy. This is only three blocks away from Gare Saint-Lazare, but is in a different arrondissement, the 9th instead of the 8th. (I have checked this on Google Maps, and their ‘Street View’ shows the bookshop at the corner of rue de Clichy and rue de Milan, in an image dated May 2022.)
The name La vie du rail means ‘The Life of Rail’. It also has a subtitle ‘The World of the Train and of Intelligent Travel’.
For anyone interested in the history of railroads, this is a great place to browse. Among the many books on display (in French, but with numerous historic photos) are ones on the early years of the Paris Métro and on industrial railways in the nineteenth century.
There is also a book called Paris et son 50 gares (‘Paris and its 50 stations’), showing numerous railroad stations that once existed in Paris but have now disappeared or are being used for other purposes. It seems that in the nineteenth century several railroad companies built lines and stations in and around Paris, with no overall plan.
Paris still has six major railway stations, but there used to be many more. One former station is now an art museum, the Musée d’Orsay. Another station was torn down to make room for the city’s newest and largest opera house, the Opéra Bastille.
Just in the last few years, I have come to realize that the Saint-Lazare station was the one my father used for his daily commute from Bois-Colombes to Paris when he was working there in the years 1924 to 1928. It was also his departure station in 1928, when he took a train to the port city of Cherbourg for his emigration to America.
My photos in this post are from 2013. I revised the text in 2023.