Métro, RER, and Trains, Paris
After having worked in Paris, and living nearby for 8 years, I am amaze at the number of people coming from places where there is no subway.metro:tube and gladly jump in into the Paris metro and rave about it back home. Like it was a tourist attractions; well I like to tell some historical stories of the Paris metro.
Paris has 14 metro lines so far, and it was not the first one to have one. It all started with the idea of hosting the Universal Expo of 1900, so to be ready work on the metro began in 1897. The first line was done and started on July 19 1900 to be exact on 3 wagons from Porte Maillot to Porte de Vincennes. This line is almost all underground; except at Bastille stop, in 1934 it was extended to Chateau de Vincennes, and by 1937 to Neuilly-sur-Seine. Very soon this line will be automated without driver that is computer controlled.
The stops are Les Sablons, began in 1937; It is here that Louis XVI bring a plant which he brought from Prussia, it was the beginning of what we call potatoes in France or pomme de terre. The best to see here is the jardin d’acclimatation where a zoo was done under Napoleon III,and still is,you can take the petit train or small train at by the parking Vinci in the palais de congres building and the porte maillot to get into the park in grand style. For lively and nice ambiance to eat try the Le Petit Maillot, 269 blvd Pereire. Another great stop is at Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile, you can actually see the silhouette of the star shape street from top of the Arc de Triomphe at 54 meters high and 284 steps;;;for nice drinks try Le Cristal, 6 avenue de la Grande Armée, or the chain Bistro Romain at the other side of the Arc on C-E. Moving on to Georges V, after the English king done while alive on May 27 1920 for his efforts to help the French in WWI, the only king so name in Paris metro. Many nice boutiques here, and Hotel Georges V, the building of Louis Vuitton,the Café Georges V,Crazy Horse,Ladurée, Fouquet’s ,Lido just the names;;;We arrive at a nice roundabout station name Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau, where the tiles are done by portuguese master azulejos in exchange for a arch entry of Guimard for the Lisbon metro. Nearby you have the French white house or palais de l’Elysée, 55 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Grand Palais, Petit Palais, Palais de la decouverte or discovery of sciences museum, ,the wonderful Virgin Megastore (my kids love it!!) Pavillon Ledoyen, ,the nice cafe mini palais inside the Grand Palais. Then we have Concorde, at the old place Louis XV from 1772, the guillotine was installed here in 1792 during a year. Afterward became pl de la revolution and then pl de la concorde. You see wonderful hotel Crillon, USA Embassy,and hotel de la marine, obelisk de Louxor 280 tons of granite put there in 1835: you have the museums Jeu de Paume, and Orangerie,as well as the solar cadran. We continue towards Tuileries, where from the 13C rooftiles were done here so tuiles in French, the palais des tuileries (destroyed in 1871 razed by city of Paris 1883) and now looking to rebuilt it as it was done in 1579 by order of Catherine des Medicis. Le Notre creates the jardin des tuileries in 1664 with 23 hectares of wonders.One of my favorite parks in the city,worked nearby ::) Dont missed the Le Welcome bar, 210 rue Rivoli or Cafe l’Imperiale, librarie Galignani oldest English bookstore in the continent since 1520!!!, the Angelina cafe. We reach Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre; the palace done by Cardinal Richelieu, and of course the Musée du Louvre, the musée des arts decoratifs at 107 rue de Rivoli by the marsans wing of the Louvre; comedie française since 1786, the colonnes or columns of Buren and spheres of Pol Bury, the gardens of the palais royal from the 17C by 2 pl Colette. shop at the Le Louvre des Antiquaires, Hotel du Louvre done by Napoleon III enjoyment, have a glass or coffee at Cafe Marly, Le Saut du Loup, and if any money left try the le Grand Véfour from 1784, when it opened as the Cafe de Chartres.
Go over to the Louvre-Rivoli stop, just renamed in 1989.a beautiful church , and one of my favorites, St Germain l’Auxerrois from the 12C, here the bell sound when the massacre of St Barthelemy. Try to eat here Le Fumoir, touristic now but still grand at 6 rue de l’Amiral de Coligny. You find here the Poste Centrale or main post office open until midnight by 55 rue Louvre. We are at the mega station Chatelet, one I always ask the visitors to avoid on their first run or try it for fun with plenty of time. open on August 6 1900 with the name of Pont-au-change, then in 1926 it became Pont Notre Dame, and from 1934 it is Chatelet. The first station equipped with running walkways at 3kph. The pl du Chatelet, tour St Jacques(the only remains of the old church St Jacques de la Boucherie detroyed after the revolution); see the nearby streets such as Quai de la Mégisserie where the tanners were,and now birds are sold as well as flowers; pl Louis Lépine a nice flower market. Come here for Au Trappiste, 4 rue St Denis, or Brasserie Sarah-Bernhard, théatre de la Ville, and the nice jazz joint Le Duc des Lombards, 42 rue des Lombards; another nice resto is Le Zimmer. We are at the Hôtel de Ville, previously call here pl de la Gréve, where folks looking for work came, where negotiations took place for a job ,so the expression in French ” faire la gréve” is to do a labor strike. The building of the Hôtel de Ville was burned down in 1871 as well but later rebuilt in 1883. Here De Gaulle proclaimed in 1944, “Paris, Paris outragé, Paris brisé, Paris martyrisé, mais Paris libéré” You ,also find the dept store BHV or Bazaar de l’Hôtel de Ville done in 1856; still here. Have a drink at le Majesty, 35 rue de Rivoli, shop mariage Frères, and the musée de la poupée or dolls museum at Impasse Berthaud. Behind the Hôtel de Ville check out La Perla tex mex brasserie at 26 François Miron. Now we are at Saint Paul, From the old hotel of Saint Pol, where a preacher prays just to the Orient, here lived Charles V,and Charles VI, it still visible a wall at the angle of rue Saint-PAul, and rue Neuve Saint Pierre. Here you find the super touristic rue des Rosiers the old jewish quarters and the musée d’Art et d’histoire du Judaisme, 71 rue du Temple,and the synagogue at 10 rue Pavée. You find here the wonderful place des Vosges where each sides measure 108 meters with a statue of Louis XIII, melted at the revolution, now name after the department of the Vosges the first in the Republic to pay taxes from 1800. A nice walk go to the pl Saint Catherine, and see around the area wonderful architecture such as Hotel de ‘Angouleme Lamoignan from 1584! built for Diane de France at 24 rue Pavée. Hotel de Béthune-Sully from 1625 at 62 rue Saint Antoine. Hotel de Marle (centre cultural suedoise_swedish cultural center) 11 rue Payenne, Hotel de Beauvais, same year at 68 rue François Miron.Continue on to rue des Francs-Bourgeois,see no 31; rue Pavée the first pave road in Paris from the 15C, musée de la magie et de la curiosité, magic and curiosity at 11 rue Saint-Paul. I have my favorites here such as Colette at pl des vosges, Au vin des Pyrénées, 25 rue Beautreillis.
We are headed for Bastille, a middle age fortress with 8 towers of 20 meters high built between 1370-1383 under Charles V. Became a prison under Cardinal Richelieu one of its most famous occupant Voltaire. It was this prison in July 14 1789 that the official French revolution began. You can still see some remnants of it before leaving the metro station on the line 5 direction bobigny. See the huge colonne or column call of July or Juillet marking the Troios Glorieuses revolution of July 1830 with 47 meters high. Port de l’Arsenal, around here wood was brought into Paris and still see the carpenters and furniture makers at nearby rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine. We reach Nation, before call Place du Trône in honor of Louis XIV, the guillotine was place here too; from 1880 it is name the place de la Nation in honoring the National Day of Bastille. At the other side on the line 9 the plaza is call Place des Antilles for the many immigrants from the Caribbean dept of Martinique and Guadaloupe. At the center of place de la Nation from 1879 lies the statue of Le Triomphe de la République. You can see two towers call colonnes d’Otroi here since 1788 signifying the barrier to enter Paris and pay taxes, it is at place de Philippe Auguste et Saint Louis.
We are at Chateau de Vincennes, line done in 1934. with 6 exits or sorties. at no 2 you go out to the Chateau de Vincennes. The donjon tower is the highest in Europe at 50 meters at the time ,ramparts of 378 meters by 175 meters. You have here the famous hippodrome de Vincennes, as well as the parc floral. Have a nice pizza at Don Bartolomeo, 22 avenue de paris.
Enjoy line 1 of the Paris metro.
Fondest memory: ride when necessary and go walk it
Favorite thing: If you are arriving in Paris or leaving Paris by train at the Gare du Nord (this is where the Eurostar arrives in Paris) then there is a convenient left luggage facility at the station. If you are on teh station concourse, face the platforms and the left luggage facility is to your left at the far left edge of the station and downstairs. It looks a bit grim down there but it is secure. Take some time to read the instructions on how to use the lockers before putting your money in. There are also machines giving change in the locker area if you don't have enough coins on you.
Unfortunately, there are now only three of Hector Guimards decorative metro entrances standing that have the glass roof left.
This one is at the Abbesses station (line 12) in Montmartre (which also happens to be the deepest metro station in Paris), having been situated originally at Hotel de Ville station. The other two are at Porte Dauphine (line 2) and the Sainte Opportune exit of Chatelet (lines 1, 4, 7, 11, 14 and RER).
There are now only 87 of the original constructions left. The major number being as in the 2nd photo of Reaumur-Sebastopol.
Whilst we are talking metro, the 3rd photo here shows the only metro station I know that has no name on it!!!!! It is in fact the entrance to Monge station in rue de Navarre, about 20 metres from the entrance into the Lutece arena.
The 4th photo shows a Guimard shelter, but this one on the front of the "Mutuelle Generale des Cheminots, the top-up insurance for railway workers. It is at 2/4 place G. Henocque Paris 13th.
I have finally added a photo of the edicule at Porte Dauphine at no. 5 plus a tip of its own.
Hi, We have just left Paris after Singapore it was a lot cooler but just as wet.
We arrived by train at Gard du Nord and went to the tourist booth and purchased a 3 day bus, train pass for a few euro. We stayed at St Germain de Pris so it was walking, bus, train distance to a lot of things including the Eiffel Tower which is essential to get a pre paid ticket for and you will still have a queue! With your bus pass you can go to Montmartre and see Sacre Couer where you will get a birds eye view of the city - just get on the bus that says Montmartre on the front
Fondest memory: The boat taxi up the Seine to alight at the Eiffel Tower
Favorite thing: We booked a shuttle with Paris Shuttle to get from CDG airport to our hotel and back again at the end of the trip. Relatively inexpensive for 2 of us, and made it easier to get to/from hotel with luggage and being tired after a long flight. The driver was close to on-time pickup for the return trip. Would use them again. Booked it through www.parishuttle.com
OK... I said earlier that I hadn't dreamt of anything Parisian. Now, I remember I had dreamt of the metro rides. I imagined it... Imagination triggered by the tales, explanations adults gave.
I was expecting the first metro rides. For Tana, my home and birthcity, not having any metro system, I'd never ridden any metro... By the way, except for the flights, these were the first times in my life I used public transportations. In fact, I've never used public transportations in Madagascar, except planes and two taxi-brousse rides in 1986.
Then, it was with excitement that I took those metro rides... In some stations, there were those machines where to find your way. Passengers just had to push on a button with the station they are heading to... then the whole ride (connection included) was on display on an electronic map... I was very interested in pushing the button, kind of kinetic type of person... :)
I also noticed that the metro was not that young. I liked the sound of the door opening. Like a metallic door opening sound the younger & more modern Brussels metro cannot produce.
Fondest memory: For who coming from a country without any underground system, this is something to experience.
In fact, I was impressed. How could a kid imagine being able to circulate below pavement surface ? During some of those rides, I was imagining the worst: that soil would fall on the metro trains.. and that passengers would die suffocating.
Since I've never had similar events occuring, it became obvious that I liked this way of travelling. Nowadays [author's notice: in Brussels since this tip was written while still living in Brussels], metro is my best transportation means in Brussels. Quick, underground, no traffic jam... In Paris, I have to say it, metro stations & corridors stink. Don't know why (well, I know, I saw people peeing in the corridors: bums and non-bums alike)... so do some stations in Brussels but you really have to choose them to experience the smell.
Also, I have a memory of Châtelet station, because there is this long "tapis roulant" there. Very long for me... and fun to "ride". Strange enough, I was not the only kid to like this station.
Some other metro scenes kept engramed in my mind: the sight of clandestine vendors in metro stations. They used to sell flowers, some plastic toys. As soon as when cops got close, I saw all of this vanishing in thin air ... that was impressive.
Walking in the streets of Paris or travelling with the metro you will see for sure some of the 68 remaining and restoredart nouveau metro entrances.
Hector Guimard (1867 - 1942), the best known French Art Nouveau architect, was the designer of these art nouveau entrances. Between 1900 and 1904 in total 141 art nouveau entrances, made of prefabricated cast-iron elements, were built all over the city. Anyway two canopied entrances survived, the one at the Porte Dauphine side of Avenue Foch and the one at the Abbesses metro station in the 18th Arrondisement.
Me and my two friend went to Midest in 2006"fair in Paris Nord - Parc of the exposition.
We had to use Gard du Nord metro station for going to exhibition centre for 4 days.Going to exhibition centre was ok but while we turning from there we had to find the same door for the shortest way to our hotel the trouble starts.We leaved the station from different 4 doors in 4 days but none of them was the true door.
This city is the most beautiful city I have ever seen!! But for making things easy one should have enough knowledge of french language.And do get metro map when you arrive in Paris.It is very important beacause travelling in metro is very cheap.You can buy metro pass too.
Fondest memory: When I saw Louvre..then Eifel Tower..and then had enjoyed in Sein river cruise.I felt I have come in the dream city.2 days in Paris were most memorable for me.I wish ,I could visit Paris again and again.
The Art Nouveau Marvels of Guimard
Keep an eye open for the beautiful Métro entrances designed by Hector Guimard at the beginning of the 20th century. For a time the Art Nouveau style of these stations was viewed as passé, and many were destroyed in the name of “modernization.” Fortunately, more than 50 survive (often in remote and non-touristy areas).
In 1898, as the Métropolitain was being constructed, a competition was launched for the design of station entrances. Guimard won the competition and construction took place through the turn of the century. When Guimard proposed his design for the Métro entrance in front of the Opéra, it was criticized for not blending with the style of the building. In a huff, Guimard quit his contract and designed no additional stations. This explains the rather unusual classical style of the Opéra Métro station.
Pictured here is the station Palais Royal, next to the Louvre.
For metro fans, a few interesting web pages:
(an amazing page that includes the story behind the name of each Metro station, the history of the Metro, maps, and a link to a route planning guide)
(more on Guimard)
Fondest memory: The vegetal beauty of these stations has been recognized around the world. The National Gallery in Washington DC displays an original Guimard Métro entrance. The Montréal Canada Métro uses an original Guimard station, donated by the Paris RATP (the transportation organization that runs the Métro).
Public transportation works really well in Paris. No use having a car.
To find out how to go from one address to another, check www.ratp.fr
You can even download the public transports map on your handheld.
You can also check for strikes.
Fondest memory: The bus lines 82 and 84 are always a nice ride, if you want to go sight-seeing without being spotted as a tourist.
The Métro in Paris opened on 19 July 1900, its first line being from Porte de Vincennes to Porte Maillot (not surprising it is now the line number 1).
Now the system has 199 km (124 miles) of track and 15 lines. There are 368 stations (not including RER stations), 87 of these being interchanges between lines. Every building is within 500 metres of a métro station. There are 3500 cars which transport roughly 6 million people per day. There are 15000 employees of the métro (1989 statistics).
I believe the Los Angeles New Wave band Berlin were referring to Paris in their song "Riding on the Metro." This is a picture of Reuilly-Diderot where I'd transfer to the 1 line to go to the main areas of Paris.
During rush hour (6pm) on any day of the week, you may have to stand a lot and be packed in with people.
You can purchase a 5 day pass at Expedia for about $45 which pays for your bus, RER, and Metro transportation. For all practical purposes, you will spend most of your subway traveling on the metro lines 1-15.
If you purchase a subway pass from Expedia, you will most likely have to go to Gare du Nord Station at the Tourist Information booth to pick up your pass and useful map. I walked from my hotel on Rue de Citeaux all the way to Gare du Nord which took me about an hour and a half.
Have a look at these beautiful Art nouveau metro entrances created by Hector Guimard (1867 - 1942).
For more information on this architect or his art : http://www.senses-artnouveau.com/biography.php?artist=GUI&Lng=ENG
We took the RER train from the CDG airport to Gare du Nord, excellent service, and without a hitch transfered to the underground which took us directly to the Hotel.
Fondest memory: No standing around waiting for public transport, very efficient service. All the stations were litter free, and individually designed.