Thursday, January 24, 2013

Metro Station Art

Metro Pont Neuf

The Pont Neuf metro station displays large reproductions of various French coins adorning the walls and ceilings.The reason for this motif is the nearby location of the Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint). The Paris Mint was created in 864 to issue coins and medals and is the oldest of French institutions. The Hotel de la Monnaie (House of Coins) dates back to the 18th century, when Louis XV decided to use the building for minting coins. The numismatics museum in the Hotel de la Monnaie is located in what was once the main foundry. The museum is open to the public and shows a pictorial history of the French franc, which finally becomes the euro

The Pont Neuf metro station
Replicas of real coins, some from antiquity, are displayed on the wall.

Besides ancient coins, you can see a large medieval coin with a fleur-de-lis around the edge. The fleur-de-lis looks like a stylized lily and was associated with the French monarchy. There is also a Knights Templar coin from the 13th century with a cross on it. The Knights Templar were noblemen-warriors whose mission was to guard pilgrims in the Holy Land.

The coins continue across the ceiling and down the opposite wall.
“La Semeuse,” (she who sows), the largest coin in the photo, is a highly popular design on French coins and stamps.
A vintage coin press machine

Metro Cité

The Cité metro station lies underneath the Île de la Cité, one of two islands in the Seine River. It is in the 4th arrondissement near Kilometer Zero, which is located on the square facing Notre Dame cathedral and is considered the official center of Paris. The station has globe lighting along the track itself, reminiscent of old-fashioned street lights.
Old-fashioned globe lighting spans the platforms of the metro station. The walls look like the riveted steel hull of an old ship. Since the Paris coat of arms features a boat on the water, the rendering is appropriate.
Cité sign with globe lights
Because of the station's depth, passengers must walk down to a mezzanine level, which contains ticket machines, and then another three flights of stairs before reaching platform level.
Metro Varenne

The Varenne metro station is the closest station to the Rodin Museum on rue de Varenne in the 7th arrondissement. The metro stop features two of Rodin’s sculptures on the platform, The Thinker and The Monument to Balzac. The Thinker is one of the most recognizable sculptures in the world, and you can see it fittingly displayed in the garden in front of the Rodin Museum. Also in the garden is the sculpture in memory of Balzac, which was rejected in 1898 by the writers’ association that commissioned it because, as Rodin put it, he portrayed Balzac’s persona rather than his likeness. The sculpture was too unconventional for the time.

Metro station Varenne
The Monument to Balzac

The Thinker
Metro Richelieu-Drouot

The Richelieu-Drouot metro station is named after Richelieu, Secretary of State to Louis XIII, and Antone Drouot, Aide-de-camp to Naploeon, who accompanied him to Elba, the island of Napoleon’s banishment. Coming upon this striking bronze sculpture in the depths of a metro station was quite a surprise for me. Carlo Sarrabezolles (1888-1971) sculpted the Monument aux Morts (Monument to the dead) in 1931 in memory of the Paris metro agents who died for France during the First World War. In the center of the monument is a caryatid in black marble, a sculpted female figure frequently used in France as an architectural support in place of a column or a pillar. The half-circle is inscribed with the names of the metro employees who gave their lives during the war. On the bottom is listed the battlegrounds during the war between 1914 and 1918.The word “Liberation” became part of this sculpture after the Second World War to commemorate the participation of deceased agents who were members of the Resistance network.
Monument aux Morts

Metro Champs-Elysees Clemenceau

The Champs-Elysées Clemenceau metro station has artwork by ceramist and painter Manuel Cargaleiro, (born 1927 in Portugal), who produces earthenware squares, the Portuguese “Azulejo,” an art that still has its importance in Portugal. In 1957 he moved to France, where he received numerous public commissions from the French Ministry of Culture, including an installation of frescos in the Champs-Elysées Clemenceau metro station in Paris in 1995. His compositions are based on geometrical modules and primary colors, suggesting movement in space. He received recognition and honor both in France and in his native Portugal. Cargaleiro lives and works in Paris.
Ceramic mural by Manuel Cargaleiro
The artist is known for his geometrical figures and primary colors.
Geometrical figures and bold colors
Metro Hotel de Ville

The Hotel de Ville metro station is located below City Hall, where the mayor of Paris conducts his business. In the metro station, there is a large coat of arms of the city of Paris. Prominent on the coat of arms is a silver-white sailing boat on the waves against a red background. Paris had its beginnings on the Ile de La Cite, in the middle of the Seine River. The diamond-like shape of the island gives the appearance of a vessel sailing on the waters. The top of the coat of arms is crowned with golden fleur-de-lis against a blue background. Clovis, the first king of France used the fleur-de-lis as a royal emblem in 507 AD. The motto is “Fluctuat nec mergitur,” (She is buffeted by the waves but does not sink.) The Legion of Honor medal, the highest decoration in France, is at the bottom of the coat of arms in the middle; The Croix de Guerre (War Cross), a French military decoration of World War I, is on the right; and The Ordre de la Liberation (Order of Liberation), awarded to heroes of the liberation of France during World War II, is on the left. The coat of arms appears frequently on public buildings all over the city of Paris.
The coat of arms of Paris
The coat of arms of Paris
Metro Bastille

The Bastille metro station pays homage to French history by illustrating on huge, colorful frescos, events leading up to the French Revolution. The storming of the Bastille by a crowd took place on July 14, 1789. This date is celebrated as French Independence Day.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité (Liberty, equality, fraternity), the rallying cry of the French Revolution
The writing of a French constitution
A 400-livre note was the first issue of currency replacing the franc after the French Revolution (1792)

The symbol on the 400-livre note included a Republican eagle holding a bundle of wooden sticks and topped by a Phrygian cap--the French Revolutionary symbol of freedom. (The Phrygian head-piece originally was worn in Roman times by liberated Phrygian slaves to indicate their freedom)

The fiddle and drum corps at the storming of the Bastille

A view of the Canal Saint Martin from the window of the Bastille metro station







  1. That set of scales is actually a coin press

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