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Day 213: Cultural station – Arts et Métiers

A number of métro stations in Paris are not your typical stations bombarded with advertisements and just tunnels and stairs to get places. These are known as cultural stations. At times, the cultural aspect is rather temporary but for others, they’re more permanent fixtures. My favourite so far? Arts et Métiers.

Just to put things in context, Musée des Arts et Métiers is a museum of all things scientific and inventive. It is a shame that this gem of a place is often overlooked by visitors of Paris. In 1994, during the bicentenary celebration of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, the métro station was redesigned to evoke the atmosphere of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus from “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”, a science-fiction written by Jules Verne (of “Around the World in 80 Days” fame). It’s quite a perfect tribute, don’t you agree?

Day 206: Cultural station – Kiosque des Noctambules

The very first time I walked past the kiosque des noctambules (sure, I didn’t know the name back then either) I was perplexed by its colourful bejewelled state (who installed a glass bead-like art sculpture here?) and then noticed people coming up from underneath. Curious. A quick investigative effort revealed that it is the entrance to the métro station of Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre.

A contemporary art piece by Jean-Michel Othoniel, it was commissioned for the centenary celebration of the inauguration of métro in Paris. First introduced in 1900, métro line 1 was used to transport visitors of the city to enjoy the sites and sights during the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Back then, the line runs between Porte Maillot and Porte de Vincennes and Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre was one of the eight stops of the line. Pretty steep in history eh?

Day 82: Gasp, wide eyes!

Métro stations in Paris have their own characters. Certain stations are cultural, e.g. if you’re at Louvre-Rivoli, you’ll see casings with “artefacts” to reflect the fact that you’re at the station for Musée du Louvre (although I assume the items are replica rather than the real deal); certain stations are under renovation works (these are not that interesting); certain stations get thematic advertisement series, like this one.

Odéon has been given the creative advertisement treatment this week. Walking along the platform, the faces of the kids looking surprised, astonished, delighted, gleeful and all, it pulled me in right away and I knew I had to act fast. One minute before my train arrived and off I scrambled, searching for my camera in my bag. Reviewing the photos at home, the posters are marked with “Ce qu’il/elle a vu? Regardez le quai d’en face” – “What did he/she see? Look at the opposing platform”.

Don’t ask me what were the advertisement posters on my side of the platform. I didn’t pay any attention at all.

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