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METRO

IN PICS: The story of the ‘ghost Metro stations’ of Paris

Thought you knew the Paris Metro map off by heart? There are a few stations you have never discovered, but perhaps one day will.

IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
Photo: Vincent Desjardins/Flickr
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 Some stations have been replaced by newer ones, whilst others never actually opened.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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TRAVEL

The Paris transport works that could disrupt your summer

Every year, major engineering works take place on the capital's public transport network in July and August, when Parisians flee the city for their summer holidays. Here’s the lines affected this year.

The Paris transport works that could disrupt your summer
Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

Metro

The most significant changes to Metro lines will take place on line 6. The line will be closed between Montparnasse-Bienvenüe and Trocadéro throughout July and August, and the Nationale station will remain closed until the end of August. Replacement bus services will be available but will add time to your journey.

The Mairie des Lilas stop will also be inaccessible from June 26th, so line 11 line will end at Porte des Lilas until August 29th.

There will also be disruption on line 14, with no trains running between Gare de Lyon and Olympiades from July 25th until August 22nd, as work takes place to extend the line to Paris Orly Airport.

RER

Services on the RER A line will be suspended between Auber and the Université, Cergy and Poissy stations from June 26th until August 29th, every day from 9pm and all day on weekends.

From August 9th to 13th, and August 16th to 20th,  services will be suspended all day between Auber and La Défense, and no trains will be running to or from Poissy.

Frequent work is planned on RER B, which will affect journeys between the city centre and Charles de Gaulle and orly airports. There will be no services between Aulnay-sous-Bois and Charles de Gaulle 2 Airport on the weekend of June 26th-27th, or any day after 11pm from July 1st until August 27th. There will however be a replacement bus.

Services between Charles de Gaulle terminals 1 and 2 will also be suspended on July 3rd and 4th. Likewise for journeys between Gare du Nord and Charles de Gaulle 2 on August 14th and 15th.

Improvements take place during the summer, when public transport is less crowded. Photo: Aurore MESENGE / AFP.

The Luxembourg stop meanwhile will be closed throughout the whole of July. As will the Fontaine-Michalon station to the south of Paris from June 28th to July 23rd, and Denfert-Rochereau every weekend from July 24th until August 22nd.

The RER C will also see its share of engineering works, with no trains running between Pontoise and Avenue Henri Martin on weekdays after 9:30pm, from July 1st until July 13th.

There is greater disruption to come on weekends from July 15th to August 21st. Services will be suspended between Musée d’Orsay and Pontoise, Saint-Quentin en Yvelines and Versailles Château Rive Gauche, and Massy – Palaiseau and Pont de Rungis Aéroport d’Orly.

Tram

Most tramlines will be unaffected by works, but there will still be interruptions in certain areas. Notably, the stretch of the T3b line from Porte de Vincennes to Delphine Seyrig will be blocked between July 3rd and 9th.

Full details of the disruption can be found on the RATP website.

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