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Paris metro

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Paris metro

Paris region public transport
Template:PM icon Métro lines
Template:PM icon Line 1 Template:PM icon Line 7bis
Template:PM icon Line 2 Template:PM icon Line 8
Template:PM icon Line 3 Template:PM icon Line 9
Template:PM icon Line 3bis Template:PM icon Line 10
Template:PM icon Line 4 Template:PM icon Line 11
Template:PM icon Line 5 Template:PM icon Line 12
Template:PM icon Line 6 Template:PM icon Line 13
Template:PM icon Line 7 Template:PM icon Line 14
Template:PR icon RER lines
Template:PR icon Line A Template:PR icon Line D
Template:PR icon Line B Template:PR icon Line E
Template:PR icon Line C
Template:PB icon Suburban rail (Transilien)
Template:PA icon Saint-Lazare Template:PA icon Nord
Template:PB icon Template:PB icon Template:PB icon Template:PB icon
Template:PA icon La Défense Template:PA icon Est
Template:PB icon Template:PB icon
Template:PA icon Montparnasse Template:PA icon Lyon
Template:PB icon Template:PB icon
Airport shuttles
Template:PA icon CDGVAL Template:PA icon Orlyval
Template:PA icon Bus (RATP) Template:PA icon Noctilien
  Bus (Optile)  
Template:PT icon Tramway
Template:PT icon Tramway T1 Template:PT icon Tramway T3b
Template:PT icon Tramway T2 Template:PT icon Tramway T4
Template:PT icon Tramway T3a Template:PT icon Tramway T5
Template:PA icon Montmartre funicular

The Paris Métro or Métropolitain (French: Métro de Paris) is a rapid transit system that operates in Paris, France. A symbol of the city, it is noted for its density within the city limits and its uniform architecture influenced by Art Nouveau. The network is mostly underground and runs to 214 kilometres (133 mi) in length.[1] It has 303 stations, of which 62 facilitate transfer to another line.[2] There are 16 lines, numbered 1 to 14 with two minor lines, 3bis and 7bis. Lines are identified on maps by number and colour, and direction of travel is indicated by the destination terminus.

Paris's is the second busiest metro system in Europe, after Moscow.[3] It carried an annual total of 1.524 billion passengers in 2011[4] (up from 1.506 billion in 2010),[4] which translates into 4.175 million passengers a day. It is one of the densest metro systems in the world, with 245 stations within 86.9 km2 (34 sq mi) of the city of Paris. Châtelet – Les Halles, with 5 Métro lines and three RER commuter rail lines, is the world's largest metro (subway) station.[5]

The first line opened without ceremony on 19 July 1900,[1] during the World's Fair (Exposition Universelle). The system expanded quickly until the First World War and the core was complete by the 1920s. Extensions into suburbs (together with Line 11) were built in the 1930s. The network reached saturation after World War II. The Métro introduced newer trains to allow higher traffic, but further improvements have been limited by the design of the network and in particular the short distances between stations. Besides the Métro, Downtown Paris and its urban area are served by the RER developed from the 1960s, several tramway lines, the Transilien (suburban trains) and two VAL lines serving Charles De Gaulle and Orly airports. In the late 1990s, the automated line 14 was built to relieve RER line A.


Métro is the abbreviated name of the company which originally operated most of the network: La Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris, shortened to "Le Métropolitain". That was quickly abbreviated to métro, which became a common word also used to designate all subway networks (or any rapid transit system) in France or elsewhere (a genericized trademark).

The Métro today is operated by the Régie autonome des transports parisiens (RATP), a public transport authority that also operates part of the RER network, bus services, light rail lines and many Paris bus routes. The name métro proved very popular and was adopted in many languages, making it the most used word for a (generally underground) urban transit system. It is also possible that "Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain" was copied from the name of London's pioneering underground railway company, the Metropolitan Railway and possibly also the Metropolitan District Railways, which had already been in business for almost 40 years prior to the inauguration of Paris's first line.


Since the Métro was built to comprehensively serve the city inside its walls, the stations are very close: 548 metres apart on average, ranging down to 424 m on line 4[6] and up to one kilometre on the newer line 14, meaning Paris is densely networked with stations.[7] In contrast, the surrounding suburbs are only served by later line extensions, thus traffic from one suburb to another must pass through the city. The slow average speed effectively prohibits service to the greater Paris area.

The Paris Métro is mostly underground (197 km of 214 km). Surface runs consists of the viaduct sections within Paris (on lines 1, 2, 5 & 6) and the suburban ends of lines 1, 5, 8, and 13. The system's tunnels are relatively close to the surface due to the variable nature of Paris's terrain which complicates deep digging; exceptions include parts of line 12 under the hill of Montmartre and line 2 under Ménilmontant. Instead the tunnels follow the twisting lie of the streets. During construction in 1900 a minimum radius of curvature of 75 metres was imposed, though this low standard was not adhered to at Bastille and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. Like the New York City Subway, and in contrast with the London Underground the Paris Métro mostly uses two-way tunnels. As in most French métro and tramway systems, trains circulate on the right; though the SNCF's run in the opposite direction, like that company's long distance trains. The tracks use the standard gauge (1.435 metres). Electric power is supplied by a third rail which carries a DC voltage of 750 volts.

The width of the carriages, 2.4 metres across, is narrower than that of newer French systems (such as the 2.9m carriages in Lyon, one of the largest in Europe)[8][9] and lines 1, 4 and 14 have capacities between six and seven hundred passengers; against two thousand six hundred on the Altéo MI 2N trains of RER A. The size of the Metro cars (and tunnels) was deliberately chosen by the City of Paris to prevent the running of French mainline trains in the Paris Metro system; the city of Paris and the nation of France had historically poor relations.[10] In contrast to many other historical metro systems (such as those of the New York, Madrid, London, and Boston), all of Paris's lines have tunnels and operate trains with the same dimensions. Five Parisian lines (1, 4, 6, 11 and 14) are capable of running on a rubber tire system developed by the RATP in the 1950s; later exported for use on the Montréal, Santiago and Mexico City metros.

The number of cars in each train varies line by line from three to six; most have five and eight is possible on the new line 14. Just two lines, 7 and 13, have branches at the end, and trains serve every station on the line except when they are closed for renovations.

Opening hours

The first train leaves the terminus at either end of each line at 5:30 am, although, on some lines, additional trains may also start from an intermediate station. The last train, often called the "balai" (broom) because it sweeps up remaining passengers, arrives at the terminal station at 1:15 am, except on Fridays (since 7 December 2007[11]), Saturdays and on nights before a holiday, when the service ends at 2:15 am.

For New Year's Eve, Fête de la Musique, Nuit Blanche, and other events, some stations of lines 1, 4, 6, 9 and 14 remain open with service all night long.


Fares are sold at kiosks and at automated machines in the station foyer (see hereafter for details). Entrance to platforms is by automated gate, opened by smart cards as well as simple tickets. Gates return tickets for passengers to retain for the duration of the journey. Since there is normally no system to collect or check tickets at the end of the journey, tickets can be demanded for inspection at any point of the journey prior to final exit at the destination station. The exit from all stations is clearly marked as to the point beyond which possession of a ticket is no longer required.

The standard ticket is ticket "t+". It is valid for a multi-transfer journey within one and a half hours from the first validation. It can be used on the whole Métro network, on buses, trams and in zone 1 of the RER. The ticket allows unlimited transfers using the same mode of transport (i.e. Métro to Métro, bus to bus and tram to tram), between bus and tram, and between metro and RER zone 1. When transferring between the Metro and the RER, it is necessary to retain one's ticket. The RER requires a valid ticket for entry and exit, even if it is only a transfer. It costs €1.70 or in tens (a carnet) for €12.70.[12]

Other fares now exclusively use the Navigo pass, an RFID-based contactless smart card. Particular fares include:

  • daily (Mobilis; the Ticket Jeunes, for youth under 26 years on weekends and national holidays, comes for half the cost of a Mobilis pass[13]).
  • weekly or monthly (the former Carte orange, nowadays sold as the weekly Navigo ("hebdo"), and the monthly Navigo)
  • yearly (Navigo intégrale, or Imagine R for students)
  • The (Paris Visite) travel card is available for one, two, three or five days, for either zones 1–3 covering the centre of Paris, or zones 1–5 covering the whole of the network including the RER out to the airports, Versailles and Disneyland Paris. It was conceived mainly for visitors to Paris and it is available through RATP's distributors in the UK, Switzerland and Belgium. Interestingly enough if a traveler arrives on or near a Monday and stays for 5 days or more, it may be a better deal to buy a weekly card (up to €10 savings). However, the weekly card always runs from Monday to Monday (and is reset every Monday), irrespective of when it was purchased, whereas the Paris Visite card is valid for the number of days purchased.


On June 26, 2012, it was announced that the Paris Métro would get Wi-Fi coverage in most stations. Access provided is free to users, and a premium paid alternative offer is proposed for a faster internet connection.[14]

Technical summary


Paris Métro

Seine on the Austerlitz viaduct
Owner RATP
Locale Paris
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 16 (numbered 1-14, 3bis and 7bis)
Number of stations 303
Daily ridership 4,175,000 (2011)[4]
Annual ridership 1.524 billion (2011)[4]
Began operation 19 July 1900[1]
Operator(s) RATP
System length 214 km (133 mi)[1]
Track gauge
(standard gauge)

The Métro has 214 kilometres (133 mi) of track[1] and 303 stations, 62 connecting between lines.[2] These figures do not include the RER network. The average distance between stations is 562 m (1,844 ft). Trains stop at all stations.[15] Lines do not share tracks, even at interchange (transfer) stations.

Trains average 20 km/h (12.4 mph) with a maximum of 70 km/h (43 mph) on all but the automated, driverless trains of line 14, which average 40 km/h (25 mph) and reach 80 km/h (50 mph). An average interstation trip takes 58 seconds. Trains travel on the right. The track is standard gauge but the loading gauge is smaller than on the mainline SNCF network. Power is from a lateral third rail, 750 V DC, except on the rubber-tyred lines where the current is from guide bars.

The loading gauge of Paris Metro trains is relatively small compared to those of newer metro systems (but comparable to that of early European metros), with capacities between about 560 and 720 passengers per train on Lines 1–14. Many other metro systems (such as those of New York and London) adopted expanded tunnel dimensions for their newer lines (or used tunnels of multiple sizes almost from the outset, in the case of Boston), at the cost of operating incompatible fleets of rolling stock. However, Paris built all new lines to the same dimensions as its original lines. Before the introduction of rubber-tire lines in the 1950s, this common shared size theoretically allowed any Metro rolling stock to operate on any line; however, in practice, each line was assigned a regular roster of trains.

A feature of the Paris metro is the use of rubber-tired subway trains on five lines: this technique developed by RATP and entered service in 1951.[16] This rubber-tired technology was exported to many networks around the world (including Montreal, Mexico City, and Santiago). So the 1, 4, 6, 11 and 14 have special adaptations to accommodate rubber-tyred trains. Trains are composed of 3 to 6 cars depending on the line, the most common being 5 cars (line 14 may have 8 cars in the future), but all trains on the same line have the same number of cars.

The Paris Metro is designed to provide local, point-to-point service in Paris proper and service into the city from some close suburbs. Stations within Paris are very close together to form a grid structure. This structure ensures that every point in the city is conveniently close to a metro station (less than 500 metres or 1,600 feet), but also keeps the speed of service at a relatively slow 20 km/h (12 mph), except on Line 14 where the stations are farther apart and the trains travel faster. The low speed virtually precludes feasible service to farther suburbs, which are instead serviced by the RER.

The Paris metro is mostly underground; surface sections include sections on viaduct in Paris (lines 1, 2, 5 and 6) and at the surface in the suburbs (lines 1, 5, 8 and 13). In most cases both tracks are laid in a single tunnel. Almost all lines follow roads, having been built by the cut-and-cover method near the surface (the earliest by hand). Hence line 1 follows the straight course of the Champs-Elysées and on other lines some stations (for example, Commerce) have platforms that do not align: the street above is too narrow to fit both platforms opposite each other. Furthermore, many lines have very sharp curves. The specifications established by the Paris Metro in 1900 required very low minimum curve radius by railway standards, but even this was often not fully respected, for example near Bastille and Notre Dame de Lorette stations. Parts of the network are built at depth, in particular a section of line 12 passing under Montmartre, the line sections that cross under the Seine, and all of the more recent line 14.

Lines 7 and 13 have two terminal branches of different directions.

Rolling stock

The rolling stock has steel-wheel ("MF" for matériel fer) and rubber-tyred trains ("MP", matériel pneu). The different versions of each kind are specified by year of design (not year of first use).

  • No longer in service
    • M1: in service from 1900 until 1931.
    • Sprague-Thomson: in service from 1908 until 1983.
    • MA 51: in service on lines 10 and 13 until 1994.
    • MP 55: operated on Line 11 from 1956 until 1999, replaced by the MP 59.
    • Zébulon a prototype MF 67 which was used for training operators between 1968 and 2010. It never saw passenger service.
  • Future
    • MP 14: a future rubber-tyred rolling stock intended to replace the MP 59 and MP 73 stocks on Lines 6 and 11, and to add capacity on Line 14.


Paris Métro lines

Paris Métro lines
Line name Opened Last
Length Average
Journeys made
(per annum)
Template:PM icon Line 1 1900 1992 25 16.6 km / 10.3 miles 692 m 213,921,408 La Défense
Château de Vincennes
Template:PM icon Line 2 1900 1903 25 12.3 km / 7.7 miles 513 m 95,945,503 Porte Dauphine
Template:PM icon Line 3 1904 1971 25 11.7 km / 7.3 miles 488 m 91,655,659 Pont de Levallois
Template:PM icon Line 3bis 1971 1971 4 1.3 km / 0.8 miles 433 m Porte des Lilas
Template:PM icon Line 4 1908 2013 27 12.1 km / 6.6 miles 424 m 155,348,608 Porte de Clignancourt
Mairie de Montrouge
Template:PM icon Line 5 1906 1985 22 14.6 km / 9.1 miles 695 m 92,778,870 Bobigny
Place d'Italie
Template:PM icon Line 6 1909 1942 28 13.6 km / 8.5 miles 504 m 104,102,370 Charles de Gaulle - Étoile
Template:PM icon Line 7 1910 1987 38 22.4 km / 13.9 miles 605 m 121,341,833 La Courneuve
Mairie d'Ivry
Template:PM icon Line 7bis 1967 1967 8 3.1 km / 1.9 miles 443 m Louis Blanc
Pré Saint-Gervais
Template:PM icon Line 8 1913 2011 38 23.4 km / 13.8 miles 614 m 92,041,135 Balard
Pointe du Lac
Template:PM icon Line 9 1922 1937 37 19.6 km / 12.2 miles 544 m 119,885,878 Pont de Sèvres
Mairie de Montreuil
Template:PM icon Line 10 1923 1981 23 11.7 km / 7.3 miles 532 m 40,411,341 Boulogne
Gare d'Austerlitz
Template:PM icon Line 11 1935 1937 13 6.3 km / 3.9 miles 525 m 46,854,797 Châtelet
Mairie des Lilas
Template:PM icon Line 12 1910[17] 2012 29 13.9 km / 8.6 miles 515 m 81,409,421 Front Populaire
Mairie d'Issy
Template:PM icon Line 13 1911[17] 2008 32 24.3 km / 15.0 miles 776 m 114,821,166 Châtillon - Montrouge
Les Courtilles
Template:PM icon Line 14 1998 2007 9 9 km / 5.6 miles 1,129 m 62,469,502 Saint-Lazare


The typical Paris Métro station comprises two central tracks flanked by two 4‑m-wide platforms. About 50 stations, generally current or former line termini, are exceptions; most have three tracks and two platforms (Porte d'Orléans), or two tracks and a central platform (Porte Dauphine). Some stations are single-track, either due to difficult terrain (Saint-Georges), a narrow street above (Liège) or track loops (Église d'Auteuil).

Station length was originally 75 m. This was extended to 90 m on high-traffic lines (1 and 4), with certain stations at 105 m (the difference as yet unused).

In general stations were built near the surface by the cut-and-cover method, and are vaulted. Stations of the former Nord-Sud network (lines 12 and 13) have higher ceilings, due to the former presence of catenary. There are exceptions to the rule of near-surface vaulting:

  • Certain stations particularly close to the surface, generally on line 1 (Champs-Elysées – Clémenceau), have flat metal ceilings.
  • Elevated (above-street) stations, in particular on peripheric lines 2 and 6, are built in brick and covered by platform awnings (line 2) or glass canopies (line 6).
  • Stations on the newest line (14), built at depth, comprise 120 m platforms, high ceilings and double-width platforms. Since the trains on this line are driverless, the stations have platform screen doors.

Several ghost stations on the Paris Métro are no longer served by trains. Haxo, built on an unused section of track, is often used as a backdrop in films.

Interior decoration

Paris Métro train halls are decorated in a style defined at the Métro's opening in 1900. The spirit of this aesthetic has generally been respected in the various renovations since then.

Standard vaulted stations are lined by small white earthenware tiles, chosen because of the poor efficiency of early twentieth century electric lighting. From the outset walls have been used for advertising; posters in early stations are framed by coloured tiles with the name of the original network operator (CMP or Nord Sud). Stations of the former Nord Sud (lines 12 and 13) generally have more meticulous decoration. Station names are usually inscribed in white onto blue metallic plaques (CMP) or in white tiles on a background of blue tiles (Nord Sud).

The first renovations took place after the Second World War, when the installation of fluorescent lighting revealed the poor state of the original tiling. Three main styles of redecoration followed in succession.

  • Between 1948 and 1967 the RATP installed standardised coloured metallic wall casings in 73 stations (École Militaire).
  • From the end of the 1960s a new style was rolled out in around 20 stations, known as Mouton-Duvernet after the first station concerned. The original white tiles were replaced to a height of 2 m with non-bevelled tiles in various shades of orange. Intended to be warm and dynamic, the renovations proved unpopular. The decoration has been undone as part of the "Renouveau du métro" programme.
  • From 1975 certain stations were redecorated in the Motte style, which emphasised original white tiling but brought touches of colour to light fixtures, seating and the walls of connecting tunnels. The subsequent Ouï Dire style features audaciously shaped seats and light housings with complementary multi-coloured uplighting.

A number of stations have original decorations to reflect the cultural significance of their locations. The first to receive this treatment was Louvre – Rivoli on line 1, which contains copies of the masterpieces on display at the museum above. Other notable examples of theme-decorated stations include Bastille (line 1), Saint-Germain-des-Prés (line 4), Cluny – La Sorbonne (line 10) and Arts et Métiers (line 11).

Exterior decoration

The Métro's original art nouveau entrances are iconic symbols of Paris, and 83 survive. Designed by Hector Guimard in a style that caused some surprise and controversy in 1900, there are two main variants:

  • The most elaborate feature glass canopies. Three still exist, at Porte Dauphine, Abbesses, and at the intersection of Rue des Halles and Rue Sainte-Opportune.
  • The rest have a cast-iron balustrade decorated in plant-like motifs, accompanied by a "Métropolitain" sign supported by two orange globes atop ornate cast-iron supports in the form of plant stems.
    • Several of the iconic Guimard entrances have been given to other cities. The only original one on a metro station outside Paris is the one at [2].

Later stations and redecorations have brought increasingly simple styles to Métro entrances.

  • Classical stone balustrades were chosen for certain early stations in prestigious locations (Franklin D. Roosevelt, République).
  • Simpler metal balustrades accompany a "Métro" sign crowned by a spherical lamp in other early stations (Saint-Placide).
  • Minimalist stainless-steel balustrades (Havre – Caumartin) appeared from the 1970s and signposts with just an "M" have been the norm since the war (Olympiades, opened 2007).

A handful of station entrances have entirely original architecture (Saint-Lazare), and a number are integrated into residential or standalone buildings (Pelleport).


Paris and the existing railway companies were already thinking by 1845 about an urban railway system to link inner districts of the city. The railway companies and the French national government wanted to extend existing mainline railroads into a new underground network in Paris, whereas the Parisians favoured a new and independent network and feared national takeover of any system it could build.[18] The disagreement lasted from 1856 to 1890. Meanwhile, the population became more dense and traffic congestion grew massively. The deadlock put pressure on the authorities and gave the city the chance to enforce its vision.

Prior to 1845, Paris's urban transport network consisted primarily of a large system of omnibus lines, consolidated by the French national government into a regulated system with fixed and unconflicting routes and schedules.[19] The first concrete proposal for an urban rail system in Paris was put forward by civil engineer Florence de Kérizouet. This plan called for a surface cable car system.[20] In 1855, civil engineers Edouard Brame and Eugène Flachat proposed an underground freight urban railroad for Paris, due to the high rate of accidents on surface rail lines.[20] On November 19, 1871, the General Council of the Seine commissioned a team of 40 engineers to plan an urban rail network.[21] This team proposed a network with a pattern of routes "resembling a cross enclosed in a circle" with axial routes following large boulevards. On May 11, 1872, the Council endorsed the plan, but the French national government turned down the plan.[21] After this point, a serious debate occurred over whether the new system should consist of elevated lines or of mostly underground lines; this debate involved numerous parties in France (including Victor Hugo, Guy de Maupassant, and the Eiffel Society of Gustave Eiffel) and continued until 1892.[22] Eventually, the underground option emerged as the preferred solution because of the high cost of buying land for rights-of-way in central Paris (required for building elevated lines), estimated at 70,000 francs per meter of line for a 20 meter-wide railroad.[23]

The last remaining hurdle was the city of Paris's concern about national interference in its upcoming urban rail system. The city commissioned renowned engineer Jean-Baptiste Berlier, who designed Paris' postal network of pneumatic tubes, to design a plan for its new rail system in the early 1890s.[23] Berlier recommended a special track gauge of 1300mm (versus the standard gauge of 1440mm) to protect the system from national takeover, which inflamed the issue substantially.[24] The issue was finally settled when the French national Minister of Public Works begrudgedly recognized the city's right to build a local system in November 22, 1895, and by the city's secret designing of the trains and tunnels to be too narrow for French mainline trains (while adopting standard gauge tracks as a compromise with the French national state).[24]

Fulgence Bienvenüe project

On 20 April 1896, Paris adopted the Fulgence Bienvenüe project, which was to serve only the city proper of Paris. Many Parisians worried that extending lines to industrial suburbs would reduce the safety of the city. Paris forbade lines to the inner suburbs and, as a guarantee, Métro trains were to run on the right, as opposed to existing suburban lines, which ran on the left.

Unlike many other subway systems (such as that of London), this Paris Metro system was designed from the outset as a system of (initially) nine lines.[10] Such a large project required a private-public arrangement right from the outset - the city would build the most of the right of way, while a private concessionaire company would supply the trains and power stations, and lease the system (each line separately for initially 39-year leases).[10] In July 1897, six bidders competed, and The Compagnie Generale de Traction won the contract; this company was then immediately reorganized as the Compagnie de Chemin de Fer Metropolitan.[10]

Construction began on November 1898.[25] The first line, Porte MaillotPorte de Vincennes, was inaugurated on 19 July 1900 during the Paris World's Fair. Entrances to stations were designed in art nouveau style by Hector Guimard. Eighty-six of his entrances are still in existence.

Fulgence Bienvenüe's project consisted of 10 lines, which correspond to today's lines 1 to 9. Construction was so intense that by 1920, despite a few changes from schedule, most lines had been completed. The shield method of construction was rejected in favor of the cut-and-cover construction method order to speed up work.[26] Fulgence Bienvenue, a highly regarded engineer, designed a special procedure of building the tunnels to allow the swift repaving of surface roads, and is credited with a largely swift and relatively uneventful construction through the difficult and heterogenous Parisian soils and rocks.[27]

Lines 1 and 4 were conceived as central east-west and central north-south lines. Two lines, ligne 2 Nord (line 2 North) and ligne 2 Sud (line 2 South), were also planned but line 2 South was merged with line 5 in 1906.

Line 3 was an additional east-west line to the north of line 1 and line 5 an additional north-south line to the east of line 4. Line 6 would run from Nation to Place d'Italie. Lines 7, 8 and 9 would connect commercial and office districts around the Opéra to residential areas in the north-east and the south-west.

Bienvenüe also planned a circular line, the ligne circulaire intérieure, to connect the six main-line stations. A section opened in 1923 between Invalides and the Boulevard Saint-Germain before the plan was abandoned.

Nord-Sud: the competing network

Main article: Nord-Sud Company

On 31 January 1904, a second concession was granted to a company called the Société du chemin de fer électrique souterrain Nord-Sud de Paris (Paris North-South underground electrical railway company) and abbreviated to the Nord-Sud (North-South) company. It was responsible for building three proposed lines:

  • line A would join Montmartre to Montparnasse as an additional north-south line to the west of line 4
  • line B would serve the north-west of Paris only by connecting Saint-Lazare station to Porte de Clichy and Porte de Saint-Ouen
  • line C would serve the south-west only by connecting Montparnasse station to Porte de Vanves. The aim was to connect B with C, but CMP bought before: B renamed as 13 and C renamed as 14. Both were connected by RATP being current line 13.

Line A was finally inaugurated on 4 November 1910, after being postponed because of the flood Paris experienced in January of that year. Line B was inaugurated on 26 February 1911. Because of the high construction costs, the construction of line C was postponed. The Nord-Sud company and the C.M.P. company used compatible trains which could be used on both networks. But CMP trains catches current from + 600 volts at the third rail, and NS from the differential between − 600 volts on the aerial and + 600 volts on third rail. This was necessary due the high slope to climb on NS lines. Moreover, the Nord-Sud network distinguished itself from its competitor with the high-quality decoration of its stations, the train's extreme comfort and its pretty lighting.

Nord-Sud did not become profitable and bankruptcy became unavoidable. By the end of 1930, the C.M.P. bought Nord-Sud. Line A became line 12 and line B line 13. Line C was built and renamed line 14, that line was reorganized in 1937 with line 8 and 10. This partial line is now the south part of line 13.

The last Nord-Sud train set was decommissioned on 15 May 1972.[28]

1930–1950: The first inner suburbs are reached

Fulgence Bienvenüe's project was nearly completed during the 1920s. Paris planned three new lines and extensions of most lines to the inner suburbs, despite the reluctance of Parisians. Bienvenüe's inner circular line having been abandoned, the already built portion between Duroc and Odéon for the creation of a new east-west line which would become today's line 10 and it would be extended west to Porte de Saint-Cloud and the inner suburbs of Boulogne.

The line C planned by Nord-Sud between Montparnasse station and Porte de Vanves would be built as an initial line 14 (different from present line 14). It would also extend north in encompassing the already built portion between Invalides and Duroc which was initially planned as part of the inner circular.

The over-busy Belleville funicular tramway would be replaced by a new line, line 11, which would be extended to Châtelet. Lines 10, 11 and 14 were thus the three new lines envisaged under this plan.

In addition, most existing lines would be extended to the inner suburbs. The first to leave the city proper was line 9, extended in 1934 to Boulogne-Billancourt; more would follow it in the 1930s. World War II forced authorities to abandon projects such as the extension of lines 4 or 12 to the northern suburbs. By 1949, eight lines had been extended: line 1 to Neuilly and Vincennes, line 3 to Levallois-Perret, line 5 to Pantin, line 7 to Ivry, line 8 to Charenton, line 9 to Boulogne-Billancourt, line 11 to Les Lilas and line 12 to Issy-les-Moulineaux.

World War II had a massive impact on the Métro. Services were limited and many stations closed. The risk of bombing meant the service between Place d'Italie and Étoile was transferred from line 5 to line 6, so that most of the elevated portions of the Métro would be on a single line: line 6. As a result, lines 2 and 6 together now form a circle. Most stations were too shallow to be used as bomb shelters. The French Resistance used the tunnels to conduct swift assaults throughout Paris.[29]

It took a long time to recover after liberation in 1944. Many stations had not reopened by the 1960s and some closed for good. On 23 March 1948, the C.M.P (the underground) and the STCRP (bus and tramways) merged to form the RATP, which still operates the Métro.

1960–1990: the development of the RER

The network grew saturated during the 1950s. Outdated technology limited the number of trains. That led the RATP to stop extending lines and to concentrate instead on modernisation. The MP 51 prototype was built, testing both rubber-tyred metro and basic automatic piloting on the voie navette. The first replacements of the older Sprague trains began with experimental articulated train units and then with mainstream rubber-tyred metro MP 55 and MP 59, some of the latter are still in service today (line 4 and 11). Thanks to newer trains and better signalling, trains ran more frequently.

The population of Paris boomed from 1950 to 1980. Cars became more popular and suburbs grew further from the city. Paris' main railway stations, here the termini of the suburban rail lines, were overcrowded during rush hour. The short distance between metro stations slowed the network and made it unprofitable to build extensions.

The solution in the 1960s was to revive a project abandoned at the end of the 19th century: joining suburban lines to new underground portions in the city centre. The system would be known as the réseau express régional (regional express network) (RER).

The RER plan initially included one east-west line and two north-south lines. RATP bought two unprofitable SNCF lines—the Ligne de Saint-Germain (westbound) and the Ligne de Vincennes (eastbound) with the intention of joining them and to serve multiple districts of central Paris with new underground stations. The new line created by this merger became line A. The Ligne de Sceaux, which served the southern suburbs and was bought by the CMP in the 1930s, would be extended north to merge with a line of the SNCF and reach the new Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy. This became line B. These new lines were inaugurated in 1977 and their wild success outperformed all the most optimistic forecasts to the extent that line A is the most used urban rail line in the world with nearly 300 million journeys a year.

Because of the enormous cost of these two lines, the third planned line was abandoned and the French authorities decided that later developments of the RER network would be more cheaply developed by the SNCF company, alongside its continued management of other suburban lines. However, the RER developed by the SNCF company would never match the success of the RATP's two RER lines. In 1979, SNCF developed line C in joining the suburban lines of Gare d'Austerlitz and Gare d'Orsay, the latter being converted into a museum dedicated to impressionist paintings. During the 1980s, it would also develop line D, which was the second line planned by the initial RER schedule, but would serve Châtelet instead of République to reduce costs. A huge Métro-RER hub was created at the Châtelet-Les Halles station, the world's largest underground station.

The same project of the 1960s also decided to merge lines 13 and 14 to create a quick connection between Saint-Lazare and Montparnasse thanks to a new full north-south line. Distances between stations on the lengthened line 13 differ from that on other lines in order to make it more "express" and hence to extend it farther in the suburbs. The new Line 13 was inaugurated on 9 November 1976.

1990–2010: Eole and Météor

In October 1998, Line 14 was inaugurated. It was the first fully new Métro (not RER) line in 63 years. The project, which was known during its conception as Météor (Métro Est-Ouest Rapide), is still the only fully automatic line within the network. It was also the first to feature platform screen doors to prevent suicides and accidents.

It was conceived with extensions to the suburbs in mind, similar to the extensions of the line 13 built during the 1970s. As a result, most of the stations are at least a kilometre apart. Like the RER lines designed by the RATP, nearly all stations of line 14 offer connections with multiple Métro lines. The line currently runs between Saint-Lazare and Olympiades. Lines 7 and 13 are the only two on the network to be split in branches. The RATP would like to get rid of those saturated branches in order to improve the network's efficiency. As such, a project consists in attributing to the line 14 one branch of each line, and to extend them further into the suburbs. This project has not yet been approved.

In 1999, the RER line E was inaugurated as the latest extension of the network. Known during its conception as Eole (Est-Ouest Liaison Express), it is the fifth RER line serving Paris. Currently, the RER E terminates at Haussmann – Saint-Lazare, but a new project, financed by EPAD, the public authority managing the La Défense business district, should extend the line west into La Défense – Grande Arche and the suburbs beyond.


Under construction

There are currently three extensions to the Métro network being built.

Line 4 is being extended southward 3.2 km from Porte d'Orléans to Bagneux with two intermediate stations. The Mairie de Montrouge station opened in March 2013 and the further extension to Bagneux is due to open in 2019.[30][31]

Line 12 had a new station at Front Populaire opened in 2012. It will be followed by a further extension to Mairie d’Aubervilliers, which is due to open in 2017.[32][33]

Line 14 is being extended towards Mairie de Saint-Ouen with an objective to open before the end of the decade.


There are a few proposals that are being considered:

  • An extension of Line 14 at both ends (to Saint-Denis Pleyel at the north end and to Orly Airport at the southern end).
  • Line 11 will also benefit from extension by 2017.
  • Grand Paris Express, a project which includes a 100 kilometres (62 mi) circular line around Paris

There have also been proposals for:

  • An extension at both ends of Line 1.
  • A new station on Line 5.
  • A southern extension to Line 7.
  • A two-stop extension of Line 9.
  • Several studies for the future extension/merger of Line 10.
  • There is also a distant possibility that Line 3bis may be merged with Line 7bis to form a new line.


  • 10 August 1903: The Couronnes Disaster (fire), 84 killed.
  • 30 August 2000: an MF 67 rolling stock derailled due to excessive speed and unavailable automatic cruising at the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette station, 24 slightly injured.
  • 6 August 2005: fire broke out on a train at the Simplon station. The fire injured at least 19 people before it was extinguished. Early reports blamed an electrical short circuit as the cause.
  • 29 July 2007: a fire started on a train between Varenne and Invalides stations. Fifteen people were injured.

Cultural significance

The Paris Métro has a cultural significance that goes well beyond the city of Paris. As stated above, the name Métropolitan (or Métro) has become a generic name for subways and urban underground railroads.

The station entrance kiosks, designed by Hector Guimard, fostered the Art Nouveau building style (once widely known as "le style Métro"),[34] though, some French commentators criticized the Guimard station kiosks, including their green color and sign lettering (criticized as difficult to read).[35]

The success of rubber-tired lines in the Paris Métro led to its export to metro systems around the world, starting with the Montreal Metro system.[36] The success of this Montreal rubber-tired system "did much to accelerate the international subway boom" of the 1960s/70s and "assure the preeminence of the French in the process.[37] Rubber-tired systems were adopted in Mexico City, Santiago, Lausanne, Turin, Singapore, and other cities. Also, the Japanese adopted rubber-tired metros (with their own technology and manufacturing firms) to systems in Kobe, Sapporo, and parts of Tokyo.

In popular culture

See also



  • Bindi, A., & Lefeuvre, D. (1990). Le Métro de Paris : Histoire d'hier à demain, Rennes : Ouest-France. ISBN 2-7373-0204-8. (French)
  • Descouturelle, Frédéric, et al. (2003). Le métropolitain d'Hector Guimard. Somogy. ISBN 2-85056-815-5. (French)
  • Gaillard, M. (1991). Du Madeleine-Bastille à Météor : Histoire des transports Parisiens, Amiens : Martelle. ISBN 2-87890-013-8. (French)
  • Hovey, Tamara. Paris Underground, New York: Orchard Books, 1991. ISBN 0-531-05931-6.
  • Lamming, C.(2001) Métro insolite, Paris : Parigramme, ISBN 2-84096-190-3.
  • Ovenden, Mark. Paris Metro Style in map and station design, London: Capital Transport, 2008. ISBN 978-1-85414-322-8.

External links

  • RATP English version. Contains routes, schedules, journey times, etc.
  • Comprehensive map of the Paris Metro network
  • Printable PDF user's guide to the Métro
  • Real-distance network map at CityRailTransit website

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