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IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris

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IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
Photo: Vincent Desjardins/Flickr
15:55 CEST+02:00
Thought you knew the Paris Metro map off by heart? There are a few stations you have never discovered, but perhaps one day will.
After a few months in Paris, you might think that you know the Metro map like the back of your hand.
 
But over time a number of stations have been closed and forgotten about. They have become known as the Ghost Stations, or Stations Fantômes, and lie abandoned in the tunnels under the city.
 
The when and why is a fascinating story. Some stations have been replaced by newer ones, whilst others never actually opened. Most of the stations fantômes however were closed at the start of the Second World War and have remained untouched ever since.
 
Ghost Metro stations of Paris

 1. Haxo
 2. P. des Lilas Cinéma
 3. Martin Nadaud
 4. Arsenal
 5. Gare du Nord UFSRT
 6. Les Halles
 7. Croix Rouge
 8. Invalides
 9. Champ-de-Mars
 10. Victor Hugo
 11. Porte Molitor
 12. P. de Versailles
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Visiting them alone isn't recommended and is illegal, but some are open to the public for the Journées du Patrimoine (Annual Heritage Days). Thankfully, and thanks to Paris Zig Zig, there is plenty of information about the abandoned underground stations.
 
 
Photo: AFP
 
Photo: Vincent Desjardins /Flickr
 
Abandoned for war
 
As France entered the Second World War, workers were called up to fight in the army. The lack of personnel and the need to cut costs meant that many stations were closed. Stations such as Arsenal (near Bastille in the east), Champ de Mars (by the Eiffel Tower), Saint-Martin (in the centre next to the Place de la République), or Croix-Rouge (in the Latin Quarter in the centre) were among these.
 
Photo: Martin Gautron /Flickr
 
Historic adverts
 
The Saint-Martin station still has adverts from the 1940s on its walls. Situated between Strasbourg-Saint-Denis and République, the Metro lines 8 and 9 pass through it and thus has been used by Nissan or Microsoft who've attempted to catch travellers' eyes with hip advertising. The halls are currently used as a day centre for the homeless.
 
Photo: Martin Gautron /Flickr
 
Transformations
 
Many of these ghost Metro stations have undergone transformations and are still used for a variety of different reasons, whether for filming some of the greatest films made in France or for training staff.
 
The old Metro station at Gare du Nord, known as known as Gare du Nord USFRT has been converted into the training grounds for new Metro drivers and Arsenal is used to train technicians, engineers and electricians.
 
The former Porte Maillot station in the north-west of Paris is now used for maintaining the trains.
 
The entrance to the Martin Nadaud station near the Pere Lachaise cemetery in eastern Paris is now used to access Gambetta. Its platforms however, remain deserted.
 
Re-built stations
 
Les Halles, right in the centre of the city, was rebuilt a couple of metres away to facilitate the connection with the suburbian RER train station when it was built in the 1970s.
 
The original Victor Hugo station in western Paris has also been rebuilt. New trains that came into service in the 1930s couldn't handle the initial sharp corner safely and it was decided to move the station a few metres north.
 
Filming
 
Portes des Lilas - Cinéma, on the north eastern edge of Paris is now used for films and adverts, with film crews changing the sign on the wall to a current station. Did you know that smash hit Amélie was actually shot here?
 
Photo: AFP
 
Never saw the light of day
 
The tunnels to reach Porte Molitor near Bois de Boulogne in Western Paris and Haxo station in the north east of city were never built. A platform inside the Invalides station by the River Seine is also closed-off and has never been accessed by a train.
 
Photo: Yann Caradec /Flickr
 
The Porte de Versailles station in the south of Paris has been replaced and all that remains from the original station are the tiles on the walls. The previous platforms have been torn down to make space for a train garage.
 
Back in 2014 there was hope for transport buffs (and swimmers) when Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who was running for mayor proposed that the old Metro stations be transformed into cinemas and underground swimming pools.
 
But then she lost out to Anne Hidalgo.
 
(An artist's drawing of what Arsenal Metro station could look like after being converted into a swimming pool. OXO Architects)
 
Still, hope remains that one day we'll wander down the old Metro steps in our skimpy French swimming trunks to take an underground dip.
 
by James Vasina
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