Love it or hate it, the Paris subway system is a huge part of life in the City of Light.
Here are some rather intriguing facts about the Métro.
- It first opened to the public in 1900
- Which makes it the fourth oldest Metro system in Europe
- It now has 303 stations
- … and carries over 4 million passengers a day
- Many stations are designed in a theme
- … like Concorde, which has the words from the Declaration of the Rights of Man from the French Revolution.
- … and Arts-et-Metiers, which looks like a submarine.
- Bastille has historic scenes marking the start of the French revolution
- In 1910 some stations flooded pretty, pretty, pretty badly.
- Nowadays there are at least two ghost stations, one called Porte Molitor and another called Haxo.
- The station of Porte de Lilas has an unused platform that is often used as a backdrop for French movies (but for some Hollywood ones too, including Julia and Julia with Meryl Streep).
- Another ghost station, Saint-Martin, was closed because it’s just 100 metres from the next stop (Strasbourg Saint-Denis)
- … and you can still go and see the entrance on Boulevard Saint-Martin. It’s a homeless shelter now.
- Châtelet – Les Halles in central Paris is the world’s largest Metro station.
- … and it serves five separate lines (1, 4, 7, 11, 14)
- … and you will get lost there your first time. And probably the second time too.
- The average distance between stations is 548 metres
- … and if you’re above ground, you’re never further than 400 metres from a station.
- A Metro trip between two stations takes, on average, 58 seconds
- Abbesses is the deepest station at 36 metres underground.
- … and it’s one of two stations with original glass-covered entrances by Hector Guimard (see it below).
- … the other is at Porte Dauphine
- The iconic art nouveau Metro entrances have been imitated abroad (that’s Chicago below)
- Metro stations sometimes change names, especially during times of war
- … did you know that Jaures was once Allemagne (the French word for Germany)?
- … and there was even a station called Berlin, but it’s now Liege
- … and they both changed after the outbreak of war in 1914.
- Back in 1903, a fire at Couronnes station killed 84 people.
- And in 2015, a British man redesigned the map to resemble a bike wheel. It never took off.
- And lastly, the Metro system is expanding… two new stations will open in the suburbs 2019 (Bagneux and Verdun-Sud).
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