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).
Follow The Earful Tower on Facebook for more stories like this (and subscribe to our podcast here). And check out the podcast episode we recorded on the Metro here (or press play below).
Lastly, if you enjoy this kind of stuff, consider signing up on Patreon to become a paid subscriber to The Earful Tower. Subscription can cost less than a Metro ticket a month 🙂