Perhaps the most confused I have ever been in my travelling life was when I tried to go to Paris from Brussels. I was under the impression that the TGV would take under two hours to get to the popular Paris train station La Gare du Nord, however, at the time of my travels it took well over three hours. I found out later that this was caused by an accident and subsequent investigation into the TGV, but the price of the ticket did not reflect this slower service.
I arrived at the train station in Paris later than expected and tired from my journey. However, I wanted to make sure I caught the last train of the day back to Brussels since I did not want to incur an overnight stay in France since I had a work-related itinerary the next day in Belgium. I went to the ticket counter in the Gare du Nord to make sure my ticket home was purchased and so that I could get the time of the last train. The ticket salesman was a bit huffy (though I tried my best to speak to him in my rusty French) and wound up selling me an earlier ticket than what I wanted. This left very limited time for me to see Paris.
The area around the Gare du Nord is considered seedy at best. Though I was there in the middle of a week day and asked a kind looking stranger what way was south of the station to orientate myself, he turned out to be a shady character and made some crude comments. I ran back inside the train station and ended up purchasing a map so that I could better navigate by myself!
There were not many places to eat around the Gare du Nord. The Indian neighborhood adjacent to the station did not seem tourist-friendly and I would advise avoiding it if at all possible upon your visit. Also advisable is boarding the metro or taking a cab out of this area- I would not want to be walking around that neighborhood again if at all possible.
The Gare du Nord was confusing to me and I had to pay very close attention in the afternoon when my train was to board again to make sure I didn't miss it. I would recommend tourists explore the on-line train schedules and transportation options in English before relying on people in this station to help out. It was one of the harder lessons I learned when travelling by myself for the first time in Europe.
On the other hand, the Gare du Nord is a fantastic looking train station with wonderful architectural features. I certainly wish I was not so discombobulated during my visit here so perhaps I could have enjoyed the scenery a bit more. Perhaps next time!