Barcelona’s Estació de França is sunlit and bright. The train station is designed in clean classical lines with black and white marble floors. It is one of those stations that feels timeless, conjuring romanticism. But the first Saturday of every month it transforms into something even more unique: a market for model trains.
The market is clearly for connoisseurs. Vendors hawk not only model trains, but also engine pieces and small little lamps and other accessories. Some of the model trains are carrying cargo varying from perfectly crafted logs to coal pieces. Every single part necessary for a train is available here in triplicate—in tiny form.
This is also a market for train enthusiasts in general. There are antique conductors hats on offer as well as old train lamps, and old books about the history of trains and railways. Sadly, the model train market has been on the decline for the past two decades as devotees age. Indeed the Estació de França market has a nostalgic feeling. It seems as though it is one of the last breaths of a subculture that once captured the hearts and minds of thousands of children in the 1950s and ’60s.
It is well worth an afternoon visit to see the lovingly crafted tracks, train models, and miniature scenery of the classic station’s model trains.
Know Before You Go
The station is very easy to find. It is right next to the Barcelona zoo. Leaving the zoo take your first left and walk down Carrer de Destillers and continue straight onto Avenue del Marques de l’Argentera. The station is a large stone building with a sign with its name out front.
Once inside the station walk through the first arch into the main hall where the trains arrive and you’ll find the market laid out on little tables throughout the station.
The market is only open the first Saturday of every month so check before you go.