Until the 2000s, Montparnasse neighbourhood and its station have evolved out of synchronisation.
In the 1950s, the Montparnasse station still stood where it was originally built in 1852, now the Place du 18 Juin 1940. It was at the heart of the neighbourhood, in which it held a dominant position, with its massive passenger building, its two Avenue du Maine extensions, and its tracks. Unlike the other Parisian stations, the space taken up by the tracks only narrowed very far behind the passenger building, thus preventing any development of the neighbourhood over 800m, between the Place du 18 Juin 1940 and the Avenue du Maine.
In the 1960s, a real desire to transform the neighbourhood appears, but this radical evolution was imagined without the station. Perceived as a blocking factor, it was demolished in 1966! A new, much less imposing, passenger building was built in 1969 next to the extensions. The city therefore asked the station to step aside in order to build a brand new business district.
In the early 1970s, the Tour Montparnasse and a shopping centre at its foot emerged, providing the left bank of the Seine with the service sector centre that it was missing. Once a station neighbourhood, Montparnasse changed into a business district from which the station was excluded.
In the 1990s, with the opening of the TGV Atlantique service the previous year and the densification of suburban flows, traffic intensified; the area's attractiveness increased considerably. The area had to meet a capacity challenge by expanding despite space constraints. The station thus played a part in the evolution of the neighbourhood by accommodating office buildings and a 3.5 ha garden over its tracks.
These new developments have turned the station into a huge multipurpose hive in which people work, transit, and live.
Tomorrow: the increase in passenger flow and the will of Paris City to rethink train station neighbourhoods have brought the station and the neighbourhood to evolve together in order to address the new vitality of Montparnasse.
Since 2010, as the high-speed line draws an increasing stream of passengers into the station, the neighbourhood must also deal with this phenomenon. A shared urban plan has thus been put in place so as to address these new streams of passengers, workers, and residents. In 2020, the construction of the new Gaîté island marks the first stage of the transformation of Montparnasse. It now houses a shopping mall whose floor space has nearly tripled, a residential building, and a nursery.
From 2024, the second stage of the urban plan is embodied in the revival of the Tour Montparnasse. Behind its brand new bioclimatic façade, it accommodates offices, apartments, a hotel, an incubator, cafés, and restaurants. It plays a part in the outreach of the neighbourhood, becoming an animated key centre 24 hours a day. Opposite, the station pursues its modernisation with the same ambition: to become a living space.
In 2030, final stage in the transformation of Montparnasse: completion of work to the station in 2030. With 50 000 m² of the building renovated, the creation of a new SNCF/RATP exchange hall and of 18 000 m² of shops inside, the station is modernised and redesigned. It answers to the needs of the increased number of mainline and Ile-de-France travellers whilst making life easier for workers, residents, and tourists of the new Montparnasse.