15 October 2012

Le Metro

Following a conversation I shared a few days ago about the wonder of the Metro system in Paris, I started to reflect on the statistics and the aesthetics of this engineering marvel ...
Trust the French to have developed a mode of transport that is not only efficient, but looks interesting and at times is actually most artistic.

The famous French architect, Hector Guimard designed the look of the Metro and is remembered fondly for his ornate Art Nouveau features, such as this original canopied entrance at Abbesses.

                                 I like the white tiled walls with the station names each telling its own story ...  
Some stations are themed to match the stop - 
eg The Louvre-Rivoli; Bastille; Cluny - La Sorbonne; St Germain des Pres; Arts et Metiers, to name just a few.

It is intriguing to read there are many abandoned, or phantom, stations such as St Martin. which has been closed for over 60 years. I would now like to learn more about these ...

The maps that seem so confusing at first, make perfect sense after some scrutiny and are actually then quite easy to follow. Like everything, it's easy, once you know how !

Then there are the seats in those different colours and shapes - I am on a mission to photograph them all !

The colourful entrance for the Palais Royal - Musee de Louvre station is situated in the lovely Place Colette. 
It was created by Jean-Michel Othoniel for the centenary of the Metro system in the year 2000.  
Named Kiosque des Noctambules ( Kiosk of the Nightwalkers) it is made of aluminium and coloured glass balls. 
The two canopies symbolise day and night - and I love the whimsy of it all!

Some quick facts about Le Metropolitain or the Metro ...
* First mooted in 1845 and discussed and argued about for decades.
* The first line opened in July 1900. 
* Parisians embraced it immediately.
* 30,000 tickets sold on the first day.
* The clever engineer was Eugence Bienvenue.
* There are 16 lines and over 300 stations.
* It is the second busiest metro system in Europe (Moscow is the busiest) and the eighth in the world. Tokyo and Seoul are one and two.
* Used by over 4.5 million passengers a day and 1.5 billion per year.
* First Class cars were removed in 1991.
* Width of carriages is 2.4 metres across.
* Most trains have 5 cars.
* It is said every building in Paris is within 500 metres of a Metro station.
* Tragically there are over 100 suicides a year in various stations. Some now have screens to prevent this and accidents happening.
* There are many extensions already in progress with even more on the drawing board for the future.
* Free Wifi was introduced in June 2012.

And on my next visit I intend discovering even more about this vital part of daily French life!



  1. What a fun post! I rode le Metro for over 10 years, and miss its efficiency here in the US (but not the rush hour crowds.) You captured some great shots in this post. Love your collection of Metro seats! They are so cheerful... more cheerful than Parisians on a cold winter day :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. Hi Veronique,
    I can still remember being caught in peak hour crowds at Chatelet and vowing not to do that again !
    Guess sometimes my glasses are a bit rose tinted about Paris - I am sure if I had to commute every day it would be a different story ...