With polished copper walls, submarine portholes, decorative rivets, and even gears on the ceiling, the Paris metro station Arts et Métiers is a stunning design straight out of a Jules Verne novel. Serving both line 3 and line 11, the platform for line 11 was redesigned to fit in with the theme of the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of arts and crafts). The museum, known for its amazing display of inventions, scientific instruments and vehicles, is perfectly represented by this must-see station.
Platform 3 was opened in 1904, with line 11 built in 1935. For 90 years it looked like any other metro station, with plain white tiles and advertising billboards. But then, in 1994, it was given a makeover to make it one of the Paris metro’s most amazing platforms.
Designing The Steampunk Station
To celebrate the bicentenary of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (an educational institute focusing on engineering degrees), Belgian comic artist François Schuiten was commissioned to redesign the station. Schuiten is well known for such works as Les Cités Obscures (Cities of the Fantastic), stories about amazing and impossible cities. Himself inspired by scientific fantasies of Jules Verne and surrealism by René Magritte, the end result looks like Verne’s Nautilus. The low mood lighting completes the effect, making the platform look like something otherworldly.
Metro Arts et Métiers Portholes
One of the most interesting features of the station are the portholes, which were designed by the Bleu Méthylène design group. Each one displays a fantastical scene – view of earth from outer space, fictional flying machines, old water wheels, space rockets and moons, bridges and classical buildings.
Musée des Arts et Metiers
For many people, the station is not a well-known tourist attraction, and most people merely glimpse the Nautilus design through the windows on their way to the cemetery Pére Lachaise. But it’s worth jumping off not only to admire the station, but also the visit the museum which gives the station its name.
The Musée des Arts et Métiers was founded over 200 years ago in 1794 by Catholic priest and revolutionary leader Henri Grégoire. It is housed in the former medieval monastary, the Abbaye de Saint-Martin-des-Champs.
It is dedicated to exploring inventions and technological innovations. The collection of over 2400 inventions is divided into the categories of communication, scientific instruments, materials, energy, construction, mechanics, and transport. Some of the most remarkable objects are Marcel Leyat’s Hélica airplane car; an early steam-powered airplane with bat-like wings, the Ader Avion III; the original model of the Statue Of Liberty; as well as one of Foucault’s Pendulums.
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The metro station Arts et Métiers is one of the most beautiful and eye-catching designs in Paris, with its copper walls and submarine-style portholes and gears. For people travelling through line 3 or 11, it is worth making a special point of getting off at this station simply to admire platform 11 (another train will be along in a few minutes)! For those interested in all things science and technology, the Musée des Arts et Métiers is also a great excuse to visit the area!