The distinctive, ornate, Art Nouveau metro
entrances designed by Hector Guimard are a famous synonym for Paris's metro. Some are lost but 88 of them still exist [parisinconnu.com]. RATP has given reproductions to the subways in Chicago, Lisbon, Mexico City and the MoMA in New York, and an original entrance to Montreal [metrodemontreal.com].
Photo [Daniel Alhadeff]: The entrance at Porte Dauphine station, opened in 1900, is one of the larger ones.
The elegant metro stations in Paris are mostly column-free vaults with white bevelled tiles that look similar throughout. The system was inaugurated in 1900. Everything has been refurbished for its 100th anniversary.
Try the following tour, recommended by residents or metro enthusiasts:
Make a circular ride on the partly elevated lines 2 and 6 to get an overview of the city. In the streets watch out for Hector Guimard's Art Nouveau metro entrance structures. The biggest ones are at Porte Dauphine and Abbesse stations. Take a look into the historic ticket hall at Saint Lazare station where lines 12 and 13 meet. Other noteworthy stations are Louvre Rivoli (line 1) and Arts et Métiers (line 11). The most interesting RER line is E. Riding the modern automated line 14 is also obligatory. The most rewarding tram line is T3 that runs along the city's border.
AMTUIR – Musée des Transports Urbains. Address: 163, boulevard Charles de Gaulle - 92 700 Colombes. At Porte Dorée metro station. Hours (check before visiting): Currently closed. Reference: amtuir.org (official website).
During construction of the new driverless line 14 in 1990, several canoe-shaped boats have been found and excavated ten meters below the banks of the Seine river. The boats were made of hollowed-out logs and date back to 2800-2500 BC, making them among the earliest signs of human settlement of tribes in the area. They are now housed in the Carnavalet museum .
Exhibits in stations:
Bastille: Foundations of the Bastille (a former prison where the French Revolution started in 1789), uncovered during metro construction.
Line 6 and line 2 together form a circle around the city. They run mostly on elevated tracks and provide views of the Eiffel tower (from Pont de Bir Hakeim) and other sights. Line 1 provides a view of La Defense.
Pan-shaped loop - Line 7bis - 4 stations - opened 1911 - completed 1921 - unidirectional loop. Proposed ring - Arc Express - 50 km - 50 stations - round trip 75 minutes - to be opened 2017 - proposed, driverless. Terminal loop - Several lines - Paris has the largest number of unidirectional terminal loops worldwide, two of them used with passengers: Nation on line 2, Charles de Gaulle - Etoile on line 6.
Buzzing indicates the closing doors (mp3 from navily.net). Next station announcements can be heard on line 1, 3 and 14. Before some announcements, a jingle is played (mp3 from navily.net) . On RER lines at this moment only newer or renovated trains have automated announcements. At curved stations there is the message "Attention à la marche en descendant du train", which means "Watch your step as you disembark."
Line 6 train departing from Pasteur station. This is the sound of a rubber-tyred metro.