The Paris Métro, boasts 303 stations along 214 kilometres of track, making it one of the densest urban railway systems in the world. Known for its Art Nouveau entrances designed by Hector Guimard, the first line opened in 1900 and paved the way for a network that has become a symbol of the city.
But less well known are the 10 or so “ghost stations” that lurk in forgotten corners of the network. These shadowy reminders of Paris’ past include a number of facilities – Saint-Martin, Arsenal, Champ de Mars and Croix-Rouge – that closed in 1939 at the outbreak of World War Two.
Some of them sheltered homeless people during the war years, who slept on their platforms, steps and even tracks. And while some reopened during the post-war decades, others remained closed due to their proximity to neighbouring stations.
Not all ghost stations sit abandoned – several have been used to train metro staff or service rolling stock. Others, were relocated when they could no longer cope with the demands of modern trains. Many passengers using the station today don’t know about the older platforms hiding in a nearby tunnel.
The intriguing nature of these subterranean spaces has captured the imaginations of historians and filmmakers. The availability of former stations means that normal services can run unhindered during filming, and over the years scenes from Amelie and other movies have been shot in the tunnels.