Monday, January 18, 2010

Paris what lies beneath...

Dan's post about what lies beneath London got me thinking about underground Paris and the abandoned Metro station I visited.

Underneath these gates to Parc Monceau in the 17th arrondissement where Marcel Proust walked with his governess lies an abandoned Metro station and the graveyard of the Sprague Metro

Worse for wear now the Sprague Metro cars languish defaced and grafitti'd in long rows but you can see a bit of their former elegance. The wood, the brass fittings, the painted glass panels.

The old poster for the Metro workers to contact inter agency.

A restored tiled advertisement for Maizena. Part of a route map.

The French would say 'Seelance' for this sign. It's part of the underground area under Parc Monceau that was a bomb shelter for Metro executives during the war. Inside are huge seal off gates against poison gas which the French still feared the Germans would use in WWII. Interestingly enough, civilians weren't allowed here and though never used, this shelter would have accomodated only several hundred of the top Metro brass.

Above ground here's the restored Art Nouveau Metro station entrance.

Here's the trailer for Charade, the film with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. Bear with the trailer and towards the end you see Audrey being chased through the Paris Metro circa 1963.

In December during our visit to the Crime Scene Department we met François who, as one of his jobs, needed to recreate a possible crime scene in the Metro station at Bastille. The juge d'instruction, like our DA, wanted to ascertain if foul play or an accident had occured. Evidently a dealer used part of the Metro tunnel, a crevice in the wall, to hide his stash and either the deal went wrong and he was shot or he made a mistake and got hit by the running train. François recreated the scene in the Bastille tunnel after the trains stopped running late at night to assist the juge d'instruction in assembling evidence and possible scenarios. Was the Metro tunnel a crime scene or not?

My eyes lit up...not at the gory details he proceeded to tell us, but at the idea of an underground cache, possible confrontations and the speeding train in the Metro tunnel. Who knows how this could work in a story? After I'd visited the underground quarries in the Latin Quarter, saw the cavern complete with a bar built by underground cinema guerillas who held film festivals and parties there, I ended up using the quarry bar in Murder in the Latin Quarter.

Cara - Tuesday


  1. The abandoned Metro station is so cool! A perfect crime scene. Do the tunnels still connect with the system?

  2. Gary, it's a webbed honeycomb of tunnels down there and yes some still connect to the Metro lines, some are bricked up. Definitely, a site for murder


  3. Well, damn Cara,
    I spent, as you know, from March to October of last year living within ten minutes walk of that Parc Monceau gate, but I never knew those Sprague Metro cars were under there.
    I loved those cars.
    I'll bet they're still full of old ads.
    Some were terrific.
    I remember one of a smiling kid (a drawing) with the title "He doesn't suffer from liver problems". It was for the government campaign against the abuse of alcohol, cerca 1965.
    How does one get down there to get a glimpse of those cars?
    Or doesn't one?

  4. Leighton,

    Never fear, I'll put you in touch with the Metro man. Wear your old clothes and repare to get down and dirty.


  5. OOOO - how great! That facade is superb and the pizza delivery hoaxes as well.