Art aficionados, culture vultures and unashamed aesthetes flock to Paris to see some of the best art in the world. Its iconic museums and galleries are bursting with world-class paintings and sculptures, but let’s not disregard what lies beneath the cobbled city streets.
Bella from the Paris Pass has gone underground to uncover the true beauty of Paris’ metro stations. From original art nouveau entrances to cleverly curated platforms, the Paris subway system is a network worthy of much more than getting from A to B! There’s plenty to appreciate in terms of art and culture, so take your adventures to another level – under the busy streets of the French capital.
Louvre-Rivoli: 8 rue de l’Amiral de Coligny
Photo credit: k e t y
The Louvre is one of the most popular attractions in Paris thanks to its vast collection of artworks. Welcoming over 9 million visitors a year, it’s not surprising that the Paris underground reflects the style and stature of this renowned museum. Built in 1990 at the same time as the new glass pyramid, the Louvre-Rivoli metro station is lined with replicas of pieces on display within the museum. Although this station no longer provides access to the museum itself, visitors can still admire the uniquely curated platforms.
Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre is now the Louvre Museum’s main metro station, which is another must-see on your metro art tour. Decorated with multi-coloured glass baubles, the unique Place Colette entrance is well worth a look.
Concorde: Place de la Concorde × Rue Royale
Photo credit: osecours
Concorde is one of the big interchange stations in the Paris underground, linking lines 1, 8 and 12. If you’re planning on visiting the Orangerie Museum or walking up the Champs Elysées, it’s the station to head towards. Opened in 1990, it’s one of the most recognisable stations in Paris thanks to the walls of the line 12 platform.
The genius behind the décor was artist Françoise Schein who covered the tunnel with lettered tiles spelling out the 1789 Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen. Trying to spot as many words as possible before the train pulls in is a wonderful way to pass the time! Did you know that Ezra Pound’s 1912 poem In a Station in the Metro was inspired by this Concorde station?
Abbesses: Rue des Abbesses
Photo credit: Steve Cadman
As one of only two original art nouveau glass canopies left in Paris, the entrance to the Abbesses Paris subway station is something to be admired. Built by Hector Guimard, the entrance originally covered the metro at Hôtel de Ville before being moved to the picturesque area of Montmartre, home to the Sacré Coeur, in the 1970s.
You might also recognise the station (and the area) if you’ve watched the romantic cult film Amelie. At 36 metres below the pavements of Paris, Abbesses is the deepest metro station in the city. As you wind your way down the stairs to the platforms, you’ll be able to see the brightly coloured murals and graffiti-covered walls, which are also a sight worth seeing.
Opening photo credit: Sebastien Camelot
Pont Neuf: Rue du Pont Neuf
Photo credit: jean-louis Zimmermann
Pont Neuf is actually the oldest bridge in Paris, although its name, which translates to “New Bridge”, suggests otherwise. Built in 1607, it’s one of Paris’ most popular landmarks, favoured by visitors taking a romantic walk across the River Seine to the Île de la Cité to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle. The theme of the Pont Neuf Paris underground station represents the Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint), which is located just around the corner. Large replicas of French coins line the platforms, along with display cabinets and scales for weighing money.
Bastille: Place de la Bastille
Photo credit: icklekitty
Step back in time and learn a bit about French history at Bastille station. Its walls were decorated in 1989 by Liliane Belembert and Odile Jacquot to celebrate the bicentenary of the French Revolution. Standing on the platform, you can see five frescoes depicting historic French scenes – it’s almost as if you’re standing in a museum.
The Bastille was famously stormed on July 14th 1789, marking the start of the French Revolution. Hop off at this station if you want to see the Bastille Basin, too. It’s a charming little boat basin that links Canal Saint-Martin to the River Seine.
Arts et Metiers: Rue Réaumur
Photo credit: Stephen Rees
You definitely won’t have seen anything like this station before! Vaulted and clad completely in copper, the Arts et Metiers station was designed to feel like a submarine, complete with portholes and exposed bolts. The Arts et Metiers (Art and Craft Museum), located just above, contains some of the most fascinating displays of technological evolution, including vintage cars and planes, as well as Foucault’s pendulum. The Arts et Metiers station, whose redesign was based on the writings of French novelist and adventurist Jules Verne, is a great reflection of the museum itself, leading you into the wonderful world of artistic creation and invention.
It’s safe to say that if you depart on an art tour of Paris, you’ll be just as likely to find inspiration in what’s below ground as what’s above. Travel by Paris metro to enjoy even more authentic art and architecture as you go from one iconic Paris museum to another. Celebrate the old and the new, from original art nouveau structures at Abbesses to symbolic displays of the French Revolution at Concorde and Bastille, an event ingrained in Parisian culture and history. Take the time to discover the beauty of the Paris underground – it offers so much more than just stations!
Photo credit: Sean_Marshall
The Paris Pass is the ultimate sightseeing package, providing access to over 60 world-famous museums, art galleries and monuments in Paris. Explore Paris the easy way with the Paris Pass!