The Paris Metro has some absolutely wonderful designs in its metro stations. Many pay homage to the history or the culture of the area.
Arts et Metiers is a copper-plated, steampunk tunnel, evoking the museum of craft and invention. Cité is illuminated by art deco street lamps. Concorde even has the French constitution spelled out in individual tiles along its walls.
There are over 300 stations in the Paris Metro network, and although many follow a similar format, there are some true gems to be found.
Many metro platforms follow the same format; a short concave tunnel tiled with slick white tiles, brightly coloured seats and lots of advertising. But some of them have been redesigned into aesthetic wonders to make an ordinary commute extraordinary. It could be easy to overlook some of these when you’re in a hurry, so make sure you check out some of these!
I love the art and design of the Paris metro. Here are 16 of the most stunning designs!
1. Cadet (line 7)
In this small station you are wrapped in the first incarnation of the American flag, a tribute to their allies and friends across the ocean. This is a stunning metro station to behold, as ribbons of red white and blue race from ceiling to floor.
2. Varenne (line 13)
As an homage to the nearby Musee de Rodin, Varenne metro station adds a touch of class with a pair of huge sculptures, one resembling Rodin’s famous ‘Thinker’ sculpture.
Across from the platform in Liege are a series of murals arranged with painted tiles honouring the Belgian town of Liege, and the battering that it heroically withstood during WW1. The station was previously known as Berlin but changed with the onset of the great war.
4. Bastille (line 1, 5 and 8)
Bastille has an above ground platform full of colour and life. Figures spring out of the walls in lively 3D murels, an homage to day to day life of France of yesterday and it’s people. Some famous Parisian figures make an appearance, as do jugglers, musicians, soldiers, miners, farmers, nobles and many more.
Arts et Metiers might be the best Paris metro station to board a train, and in honour of the museum of the same name above ground, the interior has become a Jules Verne Victorian era submarine. The walls are burnt copper fastened with rivets. The ceiling is alive with cogs and wheels. Garbage bins and seats in matching copper and portholes in the walls complete the fantastic illusion of this excellent station.
6. Réaumur – Sébastopol (line 3 and 4)
Also paying homage to the Arts et Metiers museum, Reaumur Sebastopol is never short of a crowd, with life-sized commuters painted onto the walls.
7. Pont Neuf (line 7)
While you’re underground waiting for your train in Pont Neuf, above ground the museum of money is raging. But don’t despair, part of the collection can still be enjoyed as giant coins crawl up the walls and onto the ceiling. If you stand alone on the platform and look up at the ceiling, the effect is really cool, and feels like something from Alice in Wonderland!
8. Tuileries (line 1)
Need reading material at Tuileries? Impossible. Stretching along the walls are a brief history of the last 100 years complete with pictures and descriptions. There’s always something to learn at Tuileries.
9. Concorde (line 1, 8 and 12)
The giant find-a-word. Every white tile has a different letter, spelling in an unbroken stream phrases from the French constitution. The end result is pretty cool.
10. Hôtel de ville (line 1 and 11)
As the mayor of Paris conducts his business at the Hôtel de Ville above our heads, in the metro station below, among bits and pieces of decoration is a massive costs of arms of the city of Paris. It also shows some history of the metro system on various plaques.
11. Parmentier (line 3)
The theme is potatoes, oddly. Parmentier is named for Antoine-Augustine Parmentier, the frenchman who pushed to introduce the potato as a staple food throughout France and Europe.
12. Jaurès (lines 2, 5 and 7)
Above ground Jaurès with its breezy open air, art deco design and stained glass windows give the station an airy lightness.
13. Chaussee d’antin la Fayette (line 7 and 9)
A busy station near mega shopping area La Fayette, and nothing special to behold if you’re focused on the designer shopping bags in your hands…but look up a the ceiling. A la Sistine Chapel, the great murals above are a blue sky of French portraiture.
14. Cité (line 4)
The art nouveau street lamps with their low-hanging globes of soft light lend to Cité metro station an elegance, and a gentlemanly sophistication reminiscent of a time not too long ago. The light bounces off the polished tiled ceiling and slick floor to great effect.
15. Cluny – La Sorbonne (line 10)
There are two cool things about Cluny – la Sorbonne. Firstly, there are no advertisements. This gives the station a pure, clean look, and also accentuates the second cool thing, the sparkling tiled mosaics above, flying across the ceiling like frozen birds of pastel blues, yellows and purples. The names of notable artisits, writers, philosophers and other Frenchmen of importance in the Latin quarter are signed on the ceiling as well.
16. Assemblée Nationale (line 12)
Another station with no advertising, the blue walls and big white spots of Assemblée Nationale allow this huge cartoon cowhide to be freed for admiration without obstruction.
What do you think is the coolest Paris metro station? Let me know in the comments below!