Oblivious to the world above ground, is another world, hidden below the ground, which is the Paris underground metro. The first time I came across underground metros, it was in Hong Kong and I thought it was as complex as it could get, but boy was I wrong. I have never ever seen anything like this before in my life. Entire city of Paris sprawls with underground stations, situated at several underground levels, below historic monuments, beside rivers, inside hills, below buildings, basically everywhere. The rail lines pass through the city from one end to another, in several levels, never intersecting, going under every possible imaginable structures and water bodies.
Some of the metro stations themselves are so large, that for an outsider it would take an easy 15-30 minutes just to get to the right platform, that is after you have figured out the entrance to the underground, most of which inconspicuously blend into the streets, sometimes with the only indication being a staircase leading into the ground, in places where they strangely appear to have no business of being there. Trying to use connecting trains to get from one place to another is an entirely different deal altogether. In my 5 day stay, I would have walked almost 5-10 miles just underground, while trying to get to the right platform.
What I can neither understand nor comprehend is that many of these rail tunnels that are still in use, were built almost a century ago in the early 1900s, for electric locomotives – talk about having vision! Few routes are now completely automated and are devoid of any human intervention. That for me represents the culmination of old meets new.
Enough words. Here are some pictures…
Not knowing that the french word ‘Sortie’ meant ‘Exit’ in english, caused quite a bit of confusion the first 2 days, when I tried to find my way out, until I realised it can’t be possible to get to a station named ‘Sortie’ from every corner of the city.