The term ghost station has come to describe any abandoned or disused station on an underground railway system, but is particularly associated with Paris, where a collection of defunct platforms and silent tunnels – many of them inaccessible to urban explorers – have earned their place in urbex folklore.
Some subterranean Parisian stations were closed and later reopened, such as Rennes and Liège, which came back online in 1968 after 30 years of disuse. Cluny, meanwhile, reopened in 1988 after half a century of abandonment, renamed Cluny – La Sorbonne. Aside from these, the majority of the Paris ghost stations fall into several distinct categories:
Moved and Merged Stations
The advent of modern rolling stock proved too long for some stations, which saw their platforms moved several hundred metres to accommodate newer carriages. Stations such as Victor Hugo (above) and Les Halles remain open though their original platforms stand silent. Other stations were merged due to falling passenger demand. Martin Nadaud, for example, was integrated into Gambetta, and can still be seen today behind a gate in the direction of Pont de Levallois.
Abandoned subterranean stations are a regular feature of most rapid transit systems. Far less common, however, are stations that never opened at all. Such places may not be haunted by the ghosts of passengers past, but remain a holy grail for urban explorers due to their inherent inaccessibility and the fact that few people have ever seen them.
Two such stations exist below Paris – Porte Molitor and Haxo. Constructed in 1923, Porte Molitor (above) linked Lines 9 and 10 and despite being built to service night matches at Parc de Princes and Roland Garros stadiums, was abandoned during construction. Station access was never completed and the space is now used to park trains.
Similarly, Haxo lies silent beneath the streets of Paris – a forgotten station with no access to the world above. Special trains occasionally stop to allow enthusiasts and urban explorers to photograph the disused platforms. A sign saying “1993” which hangs from the ceiling harks back to a press event that took place that year in the defunct subterranean space.
In addition to merged, moved and unopened stations, a number of Paris ghost stations were open to passengers for a number of years before falling into abandonment. Most of these closed in 1939 at the outbreak of World War Two, including Saint-Martin. Once an important station on the Grands Boulevards, it ultimately closed due to its proximity to neighbouring Strasbourg – Saint-Denis.
Three other stations – Arsenal, Champ de Mars and Croix-Rouge (above) have also been closed since 1939. Another two, Porte des Lilas – Cinéma and Invalides remain open but house disused platforms that were closed following modernisation work to the stations.
(Images by (Patch), reproduced with permission)
Situated on Line 5 between the stations of Bastille and Quai de la Rapée, Arsenal (above) has been closed since September 2, 1939. Signs of its existence are also visible above ground, in the form of a blocked-off entrance on Boulevard Bourdon.
Repurposed & Recycled Stations
Not all ghost stations on the subterranean Parisian network lie abandoned. Several have been repurposed to act as training areas or depots. Gare du Nord USFRT, for instance, which served as the terminus of Line 5 until closing in 1942, is now used to train RATP conductors.
Conversely, the Olympiades station was initially used as a subterranean service depot and workshop before the tunnel was expanded to Maison Blanche. It has since opened as a fully functioning station. Villiers, meanwhile, the former terminus of Line 3, has also become a training platform for the RATP.
Of course, Paris isn’t the only city to house hidden ghost stations from a bygone era. Find more in this series of 9 Abandoned Subways and Rapid Transit Systems, and explore the abandoned subterranean tunnels of South Kentish Town tube station.