Historical Map: Old Paris Metro Map Uncovered at Les Halles Station
A fantastic photo from Jean-Luc Raymond on Instagram of an old Metro map that’s just been revealed behind multiple layers of billboard advertising at Les Halles station. Definitely looks like it used to have a street grid layer which has faded away with age.
I’m not entirely sure of the vintage, although I’d say it can’t be from before 1979, as that’s when the RER C opened. It’s the thicker yellow line across the top of the photo with stations at Quai d’Orsay and St. Michel. The map’s typographical treatment — with names for interchange stations set in all caps Futura Bold — would also seem to point to that general era. Any further ideas on dating this?
Official Map: Île-de-France Regional Transit Map
Brought to my attention by readers Tony and Guillaume is this striking new regional transit map for the Île-de-France region that surrounds Paris.
It shows not only the Paris Métro (lines 1 through 14), but also the tramways (Lines T1 through T7), RER lines (lines A through E) and the Transilien commuter rail network (lines H, J, K, L, N, P, R and U). In addition to all this, it also manages to show a wide array of bus routes and indicate travel zones! That it can do all this while still looking quite lovely is definitely an achievement.
Issued by the Syndicat des Transports d’Ile de France (STIF) and designed by LatitudeCartagene, the map is starting to pop up at stations across Paris, replacing an older, more geographically-based map.
It’s interesting to note that while the map shows the entire Métro, it isn’t based on the official map of that network and has instead been drawn from scratch — a wise choice. It also uses Frutiger as the main typeface, rather than the RATP’s bespoke Parisine font. However, it does share the Métro map’s slightly muted pastel colour palette, which means that the few really bright colours like the blazing red of the RER “A” line really jump out.
The map uses an interesting mix of angles to allow all the routes to meet up with each other, as well as some lovely sweeping curves, especially the RER “C” line along the banks of the Seine. In general, the RER and Transilien lines have more flowing curves than the Métro, which works well to visually separate them. The bus routes are shown as straight lines with very tight curves when they change direction.
About the only fault with this map is the lack of a legend: the distinction between the RER lines (route letter in a circle) and Transilien lines (route letter in a square) isn’t immediately apparent, and I’m still not entirely sure why some bus routes are orange and others are blue (orange routes mainly serve central Paris, while blue routes seem to serve the outer areas or be express routes).
Our rating: Basically, I love this: a huge, complex network of interconnecting routes and transit modes simplified and rendered in a stylish, understandable way. Hopefully, it’s future-proofed to cope with the upcoming expansion of Métro and RER services. Four-and-a-half stars!
(Source: Official STIF vianavigo site — PDF download)
Historical Map: “Blue Guides Short Guide to Paris” Paris Métro Map, 1951
An excellent effort to portray the complexities of the Métro with just two colours. A wide array of different dashed lines allows 15 lines (the 14 Métro lines plus the Ligne de Sceaux) to be differentiated relatively easily. As a guide for tourists, the map wisely concentrates on the central part of Paris, leaving the stations further out to be listed in neat little call out boxes.
Paris Metro map from the inside cover of The Blue Guides Short Guide to Paris published by Ernest Benn Limited in 1951. Edited by L. Russell Muirhead.
Inside the book was a fold out map of Paris - although not attached it is presumably intended as part of the book.
Future Map: Paris Métro, RER and Tram Expansion Plans to 2030
Once hemmed in by old city walls, then by the Boulevard Périphérique, the Paris Métro has rarely ventured outside the city proper into the suburbs. That is about to change with the ambitious “Le Grand Paris” plans shown here. Extensions of the existing Métro Lines 11 and 14 will take them far out into the Île-de-France, while new Lines 15, 16, 17 and 18 will encircle the region with orbital routes. Extensions to the RER E and a comprehensive network of regional trams will complement the system. All this is planned to be completed in just 17 years’ time, by 2030.
Historical Map: Société des Transports en Commun de la Région Parisienne - Réseau Tramways Banlieue, 1921
Transport in Paris these days is so inextricably linked to the image of the ubiquitous Metro, that it’s very easy to forget that it once had an extensive network of trams spreading far out into the suburbs. Fancy catching a tram from the Louvre to all the way to Versailles along the banks of the Seine? You could back in 1921, when this gorgeous map was produced.
At this time, all the many competing tram and omnibus companies in and around Paris had just been merged into the Société des Transports en Commun de la Région Parisienne (STCRP), in effect, an early predecessor to today’s RATP.
The map itself is simply beautiful, with excellent and intelligent use of a limited colour palette — a range of hatching and stipple effects introduce some subtle, but informational, texture to the map. Even though the route lines are all in red, they’re easy to follow from end to end, thanks to some nice spacing between parallel routes, and helpful but unobtrusive route numbers along the lines. Interestingly, the Metro is not shown at all, but the main railway stations are.
Also shown are the extensive 19th century fortifications around Paris: not only the about-to-be-demolished Thiers Wall (also shown on this 1913 Metro map), but the myriad of forts in the surrounding countryside, like the Fort de l’Est near St. Denis in the picture above.
Our rating: Simply beautiful and stylish: couldn’t be more Parisian if it tried. 5 stars!
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The Lyon Metro map (March 2012, 4 stars) on the platform at Croix-Paquet station — reputedly the steepest Metro station in the world, with a 17 percent grade! Although nominally part of Lyon’s Metro system, the "C" Line is really a refurbished rack-and-pinion funicular, with the earliest trains running as far back as 1891.
Historical Map: Indicateur d’Itinéraires, Paris, c. 2003
An old-school interactive Metro map in Paris. Simply press one of the 360 or so buttons underneath the map, and a path lights up from your current location to your chosen destination. Who needs a fancy touch screen kiosk? I particularly like the way that the furtherest reaches of the RER lines are compressed into diagrammatic form to allow the centre of Paris to be shown as large as possible.
This particular example is still in use, despite it being around ten years out of date: the extension of Ligne 14 from Madeleine to St. Lazare (which opened in December 2003) is shown as being under construction.
(Source: Hervé Platteaux/Flickr)
All Aboard the Orient Express!
Here’s an absolutely charming little map found on the inside of a French model train set box lid. I don’t have a definitive date for this, but it does have a lovely retro feel to it.
The map itself isn’t much help, as it’s pretty much a work of fiction: a weird combination of different parts of the Orient Express’s historical routes (see this diagram on Wikipedia) and a branch to Warsaw via Prague that was never part of the train’s itinerary.
Maybe, as simple artwork intended for a children’s toy, the designers were simply thinking that no one would notice any inaccuracies. Looks great, though!
(Source: japanese forms/Flickr)
Now, I don’t want answering this sort of question to become a habit — I’m more interested in looking at maps than being some sort of public transportation help desk — but I’ll make an exception just this once.
The short answer is that you can’t, as the Metro itself doesn’t go to CDG. However, a quick glance at the official Paris Metro/RER map tells you that you can catch a train on the RER “B” line from CDG (shown at the very top right hand corner of the map) to the Chatelet-Les Halles station, where you can transfer to Metro Line 14 (via a short walk through tunnels to the connected Chatelet Metro station) towards Olympiades. Bercy is just two stops down the line!
Unofficial Map: Itinéraires de train à grande vitesse de la France
Whenever the topic of high-speed rail in the US comes up, I always like to point people to this map that I made back in 2011 of France’s TGV network. It’s a little out of date now with the opening of the LGV Rhin-Rhône, but the basic concept still holds true.
The map shows all TGV, Eurostar, Thalys and German ICE routes in and around France in a diagrammatic “subway map” style. Not every route shown runs at the TGV’s maximum operating speed of 350km/h (217mph) along its entire length — that speed is reserved for the specially-built LGV (Lignes à Grande Vitesse) track — but even on standard track (lignes classique), TGVs can still operate at maximum speeds of 220km/h (137mph): at least as fast as the Acela Express, the fastest passenger service in the US.
And this is just France: much of the rest of Europe has true HSR as well. I’ve ridden the TGV from Paris to Avignon in around three hours and cruised effortlessly across Germany at 300km/h: it’s an incredible way to travel.
(Source: Cameron Booth/Flickr)