Paris: the Métro

Dewi Williams

Comments/corrections to: Dewi Williams

The smell of the Paris Métro was different to that of the London Underground, which I was used to. Perhaps it was because it was all so new to me, but I could distinguish variations in the smell from one station or line to another. Some smelled fresh, some smelled of cooked food, and some were definitely sewer-ish.

Even after WWII, the Paris métro had first-class sections on its trains. The first-class car, or section of a car, was painted red, in contrast to the dull green of the other cars.

Parts of the métro ran above ground. Line 6 bridged the Seine at the Pont de Bercy. One of my early colour photos shows this bridge with a métro train. You can see the red First-class section of one car.

[Pont de Bercy] c0003

Having crossed the river, line 6 ran some distance as an elevated line. This shows the viaduct at the Quai de la Gare, Austerlitz.

[Metro viaduct, Quai de la Gare, Austerlitz] n15_2_1

Line 5 also ran above ground for some way. One section of it ran (still runs?) right through the Gare d'Austerlitz, crossing high above the main-line tracks and platforms. This is the view from the métro platform. A couple of things surprised me when I looked down at them. One was the tracks crossing within the plaform area (at the left of the station). And the other was the complete signal box/signal tower in the middle of the station. Although it was under the arched roof, the cabin looked just like a "normal" outdoors box, built to resist the weather.

[Gare d'Auterlitz from Métro platform] n19_3_5

The metro trains received power from a third rail, but in this photo at Austerlitz, showing the Métro platforms rather than the main-line station, there also appeared to be overhead wires. Line 6 crossed the river by the pont d'Austerlitz and then descended underground by "Le Toboggan", a very steep ramp on a sharp curve.

[The Métro platforms, Austerlitz] n19_3_4

The same style of métro viaduct was used for the elevated section on line 2. I took two photos of this, one showing the entrance to La Chapelle station, and another nearby.

[Metro viaduct, line 2] n16_5_24

[Metro viaduct, line 2] n16_4_6

The above-ground parts of the underground stations also I found quite different from those in London. Palais-Royale station entrances (lines 1 & 7) displayed a couple of different styles!

[Palais-Royale métro station] n17_1_6

[Palais-Royale métro station] n17_2_1

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This page last updated 2002-06-06