• France's news in English
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
Photo: Vincent Desjardins/Flickr

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

The Local · 18 Oct 2016, 15:55

Published: 18 Oct 2016 15:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Oct 2016 15:55 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
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 Some stations have been replaced by newer ones, whilst others never actually opened.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
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.
Story continues below…
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
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available