Friday, July 09, 2010

Paris Underground

There is something about a Metro sign that just says PARIS
The sign at station Concorde.
So many ways to spell P A R I S. Getting lost in the Metro - where would we be without those maps with their special coating making them indistructable to our pointing fingers. Never get lost again on the Paris Underground! Learn who decides what color each line will be. Study over earliest Metro maps from 1886 and find out who designed them. Those funny seats in the stations? Who designed them? It's all inside this book and ooodles more information to keep the armchair traveler happy for days. Or just gaze at the pictures longingly as I do. Even the typeface is the same used inside the Metro! Who knew? I was doodling whilst listening to NPR Weekend Edition - Secret Stations And Boyhood Love On The Paris Metro.
British author, Mark Ovenden, waxed poetic about the Metro. I had to get this book. It's full of wonderful Parisien graphics to drool over. Paris and the Metro are so integrated. At Station Sevres-Babylon the walls are covered with elegant huge ads for Le Bon Marche just like back in the '20's.
Same thing with astonishing Jean-Paul Goude Galeries Lafayette posters/afiche at Station Chausee d'Antin La Fayette.
I took a look at the graphics in one of New York's posher stations, 60th and Fifth avenue. What did I find?
Parrot mosaics and ads for 'Drink Muscle Milk'.
Hello Bergdorf Goodmans! You can do better than that.
Every detail about the Metro is well thought out. Like these location maps that greet you when you step off a train. In New York if you find one, it's placed at knee-level. You have to get on the floor for a good look. What's up with that MTA?
What's not to love about the Metro? Certainly maintaining the arte deco signage adds to Paris glamour.
A few doors down from the Vaneau station is a mini version in a jewelry shop window - how witty is that?
Everyday I eat on Metro map placemats under a bigger Metro map on the wall. Am I crazy? Absolutely not. Only the best designers created these - you can't go wrong.
I added to my collection a Metro map makeup/pencil case. I kicked myself again and again that I did not buy the eraser and matching notebook.
Who doesn't dream about sleeping in Metro map sheets?
Author Mark Ovenden's 2 British cats,Yin and Yang sleep amidst piles of Metro paraphernalia, lucky ducks.
Londoner Mark visited Paris on a school trip. He wanted to stay in the underground but his teachers insisted on the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre so he had to move back to Paris and write this book and we're very lucky for it.
This is my Metro map covered in scotch tape and marked up to a fair thee well. I refuse to leave home without it.
I own Mark's Transit Maps of the World. If you love maps and I don't mean chocolate maps, you will love this book too.
Bear is an avid Metro map reader. If you hang out with map readers, you will end up one - c'est comme ca.
Dogs do not pay to ride the Paris Metro I'm happy to report...
Have expat cats Yin and Yang been on the Metro?
Mark didn't say.
Watch this little video - almost as good as being there.
*PS An excellent tip from SHELLEY:There's a great website for the Paris metro that instantly shows you your route -- have you run across it? Click your departure station; then the green flag, followed by your arrival station & the red flag, and voilå, the shortest route lights up! I have an armchair addiction for it, but do understand the charms of paper maps, too. Thanks Shelley. I'm now addicted too. Did you know you can take a TOUR of the Metro? It's true.


Nikon said...

I love your opening shot - perfect composition!
The cats are so cute :)
The video does give you the sense of being there - does the Metro run all night like NYC?
Have a great weekend.

Parisbreakfasts said...

It stops around midnight just like Cinderella!

jeanette, mistress of longears said...

Please do not judge the Parrots and Muscle Milk (What on earth?). Give them 80 years and they may posess all the quaint charm of the Metro. Or perhaps they will be as incomprehensible then as they are now.... :-)

Liliana in Lisboa said...

Thank you for your Paris Breakfast blog tips. Every time I can drag my husband, we go to Paris and your tips are very useful to find some other places where I can have some macarons, besides Laduree.
He always says that Paris is not just Laduree… but every time we go for a walk in Paris, I find a way to find a Laduree, or Pierre Hermé.
So, thank you for saving my marriage and provide some great alternatives and “plaisirs sucrés”.

I just got your post about French urderground. In Lisbon, there is a French underground station entry, a gift from RATP.

It’s a great piece of Paris in this sunny city. It’s next to an art deco building that it’s still one of Metropolitano de Lisboa offices, actually it was the first one, now there several Metro buildings, but this one is special.

Needful Things said...

Love this!
I was obsessed with Metro signs and entrances while there and incorporated some photos into my own post on Paris. I can see now that there are some signs that I missed seeing and photographing. . maybe next time!

Natália Fávero said...

Bonjour, Je suis en provenance du Brésil et a été à Paris pendant un mois faire un cours, tombé en amour avec Paris, comme tout le monde (rires) et vous me donner la plus grande joie parce que je vois encore les belles choses à Paris, tout est parfait tous les détails, Aimez vos aquarelles, tout amour, je vous remercie! (Et désolé pour le mauvais français

Kethrim said...

Well, the coating on the Metro maps isn't completely indestructible- there's always a worn spot right on the spot of whatever Metro station you happen to be in, from the millions of people tracing their route from it. It can actually be quite helpful when you forget what station you're in!

anna-marie said...

Good to know about the destructability of the Metro Maps Kethrim! Sometimes bad things can be good..
Love all the metro graphics too..
Wich there was more to bring home besides magnets and pencil cases.
I would like to cover my traveler's armchair in map fabric!

FoodWalker said...

The NYC heat must have inspired to you go underground this morning. Good blog!

Annie said...

I love the London tube, too.
I just love London.

M. in Paris said...

Tu devrais avoir un chat, tu les aime beaucoup !

Celestial Charms said...

Love everything Metro, that you presented. Wish I were in Paris right now, riding on one of those trains. I'd even welcome getting lost whilst riding...without a map!

Renee' said...

Love it!! After visiting Paris and riding the Metro, I was so surprised when I visited New York for the first time (I'm a West Coast girl). It is so hard to see the subway signs!! Oh well, I LOVE both cities!

I always look forward to your blog, beautiful!

A Brush with Color said...

I remember thinking the Metro tiles were so beautiful. I did get lost on the Metro, but to me that was ok--it just dropped me off in another new place to explore. I love maps--and yours all marked up are wonderful. Shows you've hit some serious pavement.

shirenesBEAN said...

I loved watching the video! :D It made me think of the daily rides I got on the metro when I was in Paris..aahh, such fond memories :) (and no sarcasm in that sentence by the way!)

Steph Kunze said...

It's true...the metro system is really immaculate. I've been going since I've been young and it really is impossible to get lost...and I'm really bad at maps, that says alot! I wish every city had a subway system this good.

cocoa and coconut said...

Cats are ADORABLE!!!

Clare said...

You haven't mentioned the rubber tyres and the doors. I just love the sound of those doors.

Somewhere on the internet there is a site describing travelling on the Metro after midnight. Apparently there are tours which explore the stations no longer in use. I think the same people do tours of the catacombs at night (shudder).

I'll see if I can find it again.

Bonjour Metropolitan!

Clare said...


Parisbreakfasts said...

I never noticed the tyres Clare.
The doors yes, you have to, but never the tires..
Must go back and inspect the tires!
Thanks for the Metro tour info!
sounds great fun!

Anonymous said...

Last week in Paris we took the metro for the first time, and while bying tickets and trying to understand how it works we made some parisian wait....well they were so courteous and nice, all of that with a smile...I felt right at home. Thank you for your posting I love the memory.

Anna-Marie said...

I'm always amazed how the French will hold the Metro exit door for you even is your a few steps away, they will insist on waiting for you to approach-most kind indeed.
Never happen in most US cities like NYC for example...
tres bien eleve
Loving all the details here!

The Armchair Parisian said...

le ::sigh:: Now I am thinking of whooshing through tunnels on my way to and fro to wonderful places...

Chrissy said...

When I lived in Paris ages ago (now moved to central France), the trains had slatted wooden seats and noisy doors. There were messages telling you to give up your seat to war veterans or pregnant women - and don't spit!

What I loved were the big maps with little light bulbs and masses of buttons. You could see your whole route, including exchange stations, lit up.

BTW, the Paris map is modelled on the London Underground map, a truly ground-breaking design.

It's ultra-hot in Paris this weekend. Not too comfortable on the metro!

Shelley said...

There's a great website for the Paris metro that instantly shows you your route -- have you run across it? Click your departure station and then the green flag, followed by your arrival station and the red flag, and voilå, the shortest route lights up! I have an armchair addiction for it, but do understand the charms of paper maps, too.

Parisbreakfasts said...

I have never understood how to use that map.
I'm adding your tip to the post for the next time I am lost in Paris

Britt-Arnhild said...

We have booked tickets for Paris for the first week of October. Will you be there then?????? We can meet for a macaroon feast :-)

Mervat said...

Oh the seduction of those signs and all that is Parisian! Fantastic post Carol!


Pauliina said...

Lovely story about the Paris Metro.
Have you tried the new line 14 without drivers? Or 6 which goes outdoors and you can see the Eiffel tower?
I live in Paris and it's great to read your comments about Paris lifestyle!

Jenny said...

OH, Carol...the things I must confess to you! I fell in love with the Metro on my first meeting the summer of 1993 when I was there for two months. Coming from Texas, where you need a car to get anywhere, being able to be sans car and get everywhere in that beautiful city was a freeing wonder to me. When a French family I was staying with asked me what feature of Paris I liked best I immediately answered "oh, of course the Metro" and they looked aghast. And I have since loved the Tube too. Now I have passed on to my girls that same joy of mapping out point A to point B, the ups and downs of the stairs, and the different feel of each station that they say it makes the visit for them to go "underground".