Aside from seeking out catacombs, graveyards, and abandoned railway lines while visiting Paris in 2017, I also did a fair amount of aimless wondering, curious to see if I would stumble upon any hidden gems by chance. Something that I found a fair deal of, not hidden but still unexpected, were some very beautiful metro stations that I had no previous knowledge of. I took some photos of my favourites, which include:
Arts et Metiers
Lines 3 and 11 pass through the awe-inspiring Arts et Metiers. This station first opened in 1904 but was redesigned in 1994 to mark the 200th anniversary of the creation of the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. The redecoration gave this metro station the illusion of a submarine, complete with potholes in the walls. The station now resembles something out of a Jules Verne novel, with giant brass cogs protruding from the ceiling and small models of dirigibles and planes creating scenes in each of the pothole ‘windows’. The science-fiction stories of Jules Verne were the main source of inspiration for artist Francois Schuiten, who designed this metro station. It really did feel like being in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and I spent a lot of time in there just taking pictures of the place, not in a rush to get on the metro to go anywhere else.
Emerging from the underground on Place Colette with the intention of spending a day in the Louvre, I found myself under a beautiful structure made of huge colourful glass beads. The Plais Royal metro station entrance on Place Colette was designed by Jean-Michel Othoniel, as the “Kiosque des noctambules” (Kiosk of the night-walkers). The two cupolas of the structure, one representing the day, the other the night, are made of coloured glass beads that are threaded to a structure made of aluminium. This striking entrance was created in 2000, to mark the 100 years that had passed since the inauguration of the Palais Royal metro station.
Hôtel de Ville
The art deco signs outside of this station at Hotel de Ville are truly iconic, perhaps one of the most famous images of the city. The station, Hôtel de Ville, is named after the City Hall, which is located above it. This station was opened in 1900 as one of the eight original stations of the line that went from Porte de Vincennes to Porte Maillot. The blazon of Paris can be seen in this metro station, located in the 4th arrondissement. It was recently renovated and also boasts a great quantity of pictures, maps and engravings of Paris at different stages of its history.