The Insider's Guide To Hector Guimard's Metro Entrances In Paris

In 1900 Hector Guimard designed the first of many decorative Metro station entrances. Since then they have come to symbolize not only the Paris Metro but Paris itself. In another article we described Guimard's top ten Metro stations, but now let's delve deeper into the world of Hector Guimard for the complete Insider's guide to all of his remaining, and inspirational, Metro stations.

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Hector Guimard & the Paris Metro

Hector Guimard Metro Station

Paris wasn't the first city to have an underground system, that was London, but the 1900 Paris Exposition was a reason to show the world that Paris, too, could build an efficient mode of mass transportation. In 1898 the Compagnie du Métropolitain launched a competition for the design of Metro entrance gates. Guimard didn't actually enter the competition but he was awarded the commission nonetheless due to his avant-garde schemes using inexpensive cast-iron elements.

Each of Guimard's (1867-1942) cast iron entrances display the word Métropolitain along with the station's name. Unbelievably, many of his station entrances were subsequently destroyed, right up until the 1960s. Fortunately for us, at least half have been saved and can still be admired at sixty-seven Metro stations.

The style he employed, called Art Nouveau (as seen in the photo below of the former Metro station at Etoile), emerged around the end of the nineteenth century, during the period called La Belle Époque, the result of a quest for an aesthetic based on organic, fluid lines inspired by nature. At first Parisians were skeptical of Guimard's style, but once his Metro stations were installed, Art Nouveau was embraced as the look of the Belle Époque.

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Former Guimard Metro Entrance at Etoile

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Guimard's genius didn't stop at Metro stations. He was a prolific designer and brought Art Nouveau sensibility to houses, furniture, and many objets like umbrella stands, vases, picture frames, door handles, trays, letter seals & openers, and jewelry.

Current art historians can't heap enough praise on Guimard's Art Nouveau Metro stations, but when he died in New York City at the age of 75 the French architect's body of work had fallen into obscurity. His contribution to Paris had been long forgotten by 1938 when he and his Jewish wife Adeleine left their native France to escape the toxic tide of antisemitism.

Today Guimard's Metro station entrances can be seen across Paris. Some of them have been relocated from their original locations, like the one at Porte-Dauphine in the 16th. (In fact, there's one at Square-Victoria station in Montreal, Quebec.) Here is a complete list of Hector's extant Metro station entrances in Paris. Can you find the arrondissement that has the most examples? Or the one arrondissement that doesn't have (or share) one of Guimard's gateways?

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Hector Guimard's Metro Stations in Paris

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Palais Royal Musee du Louvre Metro Entrance, photo by Simon Law

In the 1st Arrondissement

Guimard's Metro entrances can be found at stations Chatelet, Etienne-Marcel, Palais-Royal–Musée-du-Louvre (photo), Louvre-Rivoli.

Metro Name Fun Fact

Station Etienne Marcel, on line 4, opened in April 1908, named for the 14th-century revolutionary and provost (leader) of small merchants and guildsmen under French king Jean II. There's a statue of Etienne Marcel at the Hotel de Ville. By the way, the current Chatelet entrance is a modern replica.

In the 2nd Arrondissement

Guimard's Metro entrances can be found at stations Quatre-Septembre, Reaumur-Sebastopol, and Sentier.

Metro Name Fun Fact

Quatre-Septembre, on Metro line 3 is named for an important date in French history. On September 4, 1870, Napoleon III's defeat was finalized and the Third French Republic was proclaimed. This Metro station opened in October 1904, providing service between Avenue de Villiers and Pere Lachaise.

3rd Arrondissement

Temple station, in the Marais.

Metro Name Fun Fact

Also on line 3, Temple is named for a long-demolished Templar fortification that once stood in the Square du Temple in the Marais. The Templar's building gave its name to the Rue du Temple, which gave its name to the Metro station.

4th Arrondissement

Metro Cite, Wikimemdia Commons, photo by Clicsource

Cité, on Île de la Cité.

Metro Name Fun Fact

Deep underneath Île de la Cité (one of the two islands of Paris) is Metro Cité. The only Metro station on the island opened in December 1910; although tunnels once linked the station to the nearby Prefecture of Police of Paris and the Palais de Justice, they were closed for security reasons so that now the only exit is on Rue de Lutèce, in front of the Prefecture of Police.

5th & 6th Arrondissements

Saint-Michel–Notre-Dame. (That's one station.)

Metro Name Fun Fact

Saint-Michel–Notre-Dame, on line 4, in the Latin Quarter, also connects to RER lines B and C (underground). While you're viewing Guimard's entrance (on the west side of Place Saint-Michel), be sure to check out the famous Fontaine Saint-Michel by Gabriel Davioud, just around the corner.

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8th Arrondissement

Europe, Saint-Lazare

Metro Name Fun Fact

Europe opened in October 1904 and is named after the Place de l'Europe, the square from which streets named for European capitals radiate. This was also the site of the first Paris railway station, Embarcadère de l'Ouest, which opened in 1837.

9th Arrondissement

Metro Opera Entrance, Wikimedia, photo by MOSSOT

Cadet, Opera (photo, corner of Rue Auber and Rue Scribe, kitty-corner from the Nespresso store)

Metro Name Fun Fact

Cadet, on line 7 is named after a wealthy landowner, Monsieur Cadet de Chambine, who just happened to own the land where the street and Metro station is now located.

10th Arrondissement

Chateau-d'Eau, Colonel-Fabien, Gare du Nord, Louis-Blanc, République

Metro Name Fun Fact

République serves lines 3, 5, 8, 9, and 11 and is named after the Place de la République, which commemorates the First, Second, and Third French Republics. The Metro station is found directly underneath the place.

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11th Arrondissement

Breguet-Sabin, Couronnes, Menilmontant, Parmentier, Pere-Lachaise, Richard-Lenoir, Rue-Saint-Maur

Metro Name Fun Fact

Parmentier on line 3 opened in October 1904 and is named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier. He's the man who convinced the world that potatoes weren't poisonous and could be used as a food source for humans. Frites, anyone? Station Pere-Lachaise serves, of course, Pere Lachaise cemetery.

12th Arrondissement

Bastille, Daumesnil, Gare-de-Lyon, Nation, Picpus

Metro Name Fun Fact

Daumesnil, serving lines 6 and 8, honours General Pierre Yrieix Daumesnil (1776-1832), one of Napoleon's star soldiers.

13th Arrondissement

Metro Campo-Formio

Campo-Formio, Place-d'Italie, Saint-Marcel

Metro Name Fun Fact

Saint-Marcel on line 5, serving the University Hospital, is named for a 5th-century bishop of Paris

14th Arrondissement

Denfert-Rochereau, Mouton-Duvernet, Raspail

Metro Name Fun Fact

Raspail on lines 4 and 6 is named for the 19th-century scientist and politician François-Vincent Raspail (1794-1878). Born in Carpentras in Provence, he was one of the founders of the cell theory in biology. The longest boulevard in Paris, Boulevard Raspail, is also named in his honor.

15th Arrondissement

Pasteur

Metro Name Fun Fact

Opened in April 1906, the Pasteur station honors Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). The renowned French microbiologist and chemist discovered the principles of vaccination and pasteurization and created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax.

16th Arrondissement

Metro Porte-Dauphine, Wikimedia Commons, photo by Bellomonte

Boissiere, Chardon-Lagache, Eglise-d'Auteuil, Kleber, Mirabeau, Porte-d'Auteuil, Porte-Dauphine (photo), Victor-Hugo

Metro Name Fun Fact

Named for the famous author, the Victor Hugo station (line 2) got a temporary name change in July 2018, when the French national soccer team won the World Cup. The station, located in the 16th Arrondissement was for a short time called Victor Hugo Lloris for the team's captain and goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris.

17th Arrondissement

Monceau, Rome, Ternes, Villiers, Wagram

Metro Name Fun Fact

Monceau on Line 2 is near Parc Monceau on the border of the 8th and 17th Arrondissements. Both the station and the park get their name from the former village of Monceau, annexed by Paris in 1860 as part of the expansion of Paris.

18th Arrondissement

Metro Abbesses, photo by Mark Craft

Abbesses, Anvers, Barbes-Rochechouart, Blanche, Pigalle, Place-de-Clichy

Metro Name Fun Fact

What happens when you marry French Republican revolutionary Armand Barbès (1809-1870) to the scholarly French nun Marguerite de Rochechouart, (1665-1727)? Metro station Barbes-Rochechouart is born. Situated on Paris Metro lines 2 and Line 4, it's where the 9th, 10th, and 18th Arrondissements converge.

19th Arrondissement

Bolivar, Botzaris, Crimee, Jaures, Pre-Saint-Gervais

Metro Name Fun Fact

Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) was a hero of South American independence. We're sure he would be saddened to know the history of the Metro station bearing his name on line 7B. During World War I the station was converted into an air raid shelter. As people rushed to the shelter during a bombing on March 11, 1918 panic ensued when the doors jammed. Seventy-six people died in the resulting rush of bodies.

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20th Arrondissement

Metro Philippe-Auguste

Alexandre-Dumas, Avron, Gambetta, Philippe-Auguste (photo)

Metro Name Fun Fact

You say you want a revolution? Philippe-Auguste on line 2 is the only Paris Metro station named for French royalty, Philip II of France, 1165-1223.

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