Art and puzzles: 7 of Paris' coolest Metro stations

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Art and puzzles: 7 of Paris' coolest Metro stations
A sign of the French metro station. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

From word puzzles to artworks to secret film sets - here are the Paris Metro stations that are worth a visit even if you don't need to hop on a train.


Paris inaugurated its first Metro line in 1900, now over 200 kilometres long with 309 stations, the Paris Metro welcomes over four million people per day.

Most people will know the unique art nouveau entrances at some stations, but once you get underground there are some stations that also stand out.

Here are our favourites;

Concorde - connecting lines 1, 8, and 12, the Concorde Metro station is located right in the heart of Paris in its 1st arrondisement at the Place de la Concorde - where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed.

This station is great if you have a few minutes' wait for your train, because the walls and ceilings are decorated with little tiles, each bearing a letter.

And they are not placed at random - artist Françoise Schein designed the station's decor, covering the walls with words from the Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (human rights declaration) of 1789, so travellers can amuse themselves by finding the words. 


Arts et Métiers - You might find yourself humming the lyrics to 'Yellow Submarine' as you step off a Line 11 train into Arts et Métiers station in the 3rd arrondisement. With its copper tinted walls resembling a steampunk style submarine, you will feel as if you have been transported into a Jules Verne novel - which is the goal.


In 1994, comic artists François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters collaborated to design the decor for the station as an homage to the science fiction author, with the goal of reminding passengers of the Nautilus -  the fictional submarine in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island.


Abbesses - Paris' deepest Metro station, 36 metres below ground, can be found along line 12 in Montmartre.  If you are brave enough to climb the 176 steps (you can opt for the elevator if you prefer), you will pass by colourful paintings depicting scenes and views of Paris.


Bastille - The Bastille prison has a big place in French history and the Metro station of the same name - which connects lines 1, 5 and 8 - showcases this. 

On the platform for line 1, the tiled walls show scenes from the location's history during the French revolution.


READ MORE: Paris Metro: 5 figures from French history who have stations named after them

Palais-Royal - The two stations that serve the Louvre museum are both special - Louvre-Rivoli has copies of some the artworks on display upstairs while Palais Royal-Musée de Louvre makes the list for its exterior. 


One of the entrances has the 'Kiosque des noctambules', a structure created from aluminium and coloured, blown glass. Intended to show two domes, one representing day and the other night, it was created by artist Jean-Michel Othoniel in 2000.


Cluny-La Sorbonne - Found in Paris' Latin Quarter, the former home to many important figures in French history, including the playwright Molière station, this station is along Metro line 10.


It stands out because of the colourful mosaic on the ceiling of the platform. It is called Les Oiseaux (The Birds), and is the work of Jean Bazaine. Showing two birds with their wings spread, the mosaic is emblematic of the intellectual world that has existed just above the station for centuries. The remaining tiles on the station's ceiling show 54 signatures of famous figures in French history. 


Porte des Lilas - an otherwise unremarkable and frankly quite scruffy station, Porte des Lilas at the eastern edge of Paris has a secret.

In addition to the working platform that serves line 11, Porte des Lilas also has an extra, hidden platform and length of track. It was taken out of commission in 1939 due to under-use and in the 1950s it served as a place to test new Metro carriages before it arrived at its current use - as a film set.

If you've ever watched a scene set in the Metro, chances are it was filmed at Porte des Lilas, which in addition to the platform has a section of track that Metro cars can move along if needed for action sequences. 

Ghost stations

And then there are the stations that you won't see. A total of 16 Metro stations go unused underground in Paris - some were built and never put into use, others were decommissioned after World War II.

READ MORE: Skulls, beer and a 'cathedral': Discover the secrets of underground Paris


Beware if you find yourself in Haxo station - it does not have its own entrance or exit and is only accessible by following the Metro tunnels. It is one of the six that never opened, along with Porte Molitor, Orly-Sud, La Défense-Michelet and Élysée-La Défense.

Other stations were closed for being too close to other stations, such as the Saint-Martin station, which was closed after World War II as it was too close to Strasbourg-Saint Denis. 

These phantom stations are usually off-limits to the public, but sometimes access is allowed for special guided tours or events.


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