8.6.15

Metro "totems"...


Of the Paris metro entrances, the most well-known design is obviously the art nouveau ones by Hector Guimard, the first ones from 1900 when also the first metro lines, numbers 1 and 2, were opened.  But of the total 303 stations today, there are only 86 (of the initial 141) Guimard entrances left. Fashion has changed with the years... 

One example is from Place de la Bastille, where three lines meet, created between the years 1900 and 1913, with originally different designs at different entrances, which also later have been "modernized".

Here are some examples from some other stations.  

The "modernization" has in general involved so called “totems”, the first type referred to as “Val d’Osne” (the name of the factory where they were made), which appeared during the 1920’s, with a globe and a metro sign, eluminated from the inside. Different sources vary when it comes to list which stations have these “totems”. I went out for research and found these ones, most of them are along line 4, one “totem” at “Odéon”, two at “Saint Germain des Prés”, two at “Saint Sulpice” (see also top picture) and one at “Saint Placide”. 



I also found two along line 9, at “Saint Augustin” and at “Iéna”, one on line 1 at “Saint Paul” and one on line 7 at "Le Peletier”. There may of course be other ones.



A simpler “totem” came into use during the 1930’s, referred to as “Dervaux” (the name of the architect). They are similar, but of a slightly simpler design. I didn’t really go out looking for these, but here are some examples - two at “Iéna”, one at “Saint Michel” and one at “Mabillon”.
Actually, there are quite many of this model. Here are two entrances at "Alma-Marceau" with double "totems".  

12 comments:

Kate said...

Wish our country had more metros because of the efficiency for travel. Paris'signs are wonderful and unique. For awhile I used the metro "M" for my profile photo. Thanks for posting the variety of signs!

Virginia said...

You won't be surprised to learn that all of these made me so homesick for Paris!!! I put some of my metro photos on iPhone cases to sell on Zazzle. They notified me recently that they had to remove them for sale due to copyright violations. Who ever heard of such? Have you Peter?
V

Peter Olson said...

Virginia: I never heard about metro copyrights... What I know is that photos from the metro "downstairs" and especially in the cars is more or less forbidden. I don't know the rules exactly, but I have twice been stopped by some metro agents.

Anonymous said...


I can't believe they have a metro entrance called Robespierre. Yikes!

Loved the sweet looking photos, loved seeing all of those landmarks again...
Thank you, Peter for this beautiful and interesting tour.
Maria

claude said...

Je les aime bien moi ces totems du métro.

Jean(ne) in MN said...

So interesting and great photos. Thanks

Jeanie said...

I was fascinated by the metro signs and their differences while I was in Paris, although you noted so many more intricate details (of course!) and that wonderful background and history! Thanks, Peter!

Thérèse said...

Interessante collection de totems a suivre.
Vrai aux dires de la police: pas le droit de photographier dans le metro. Je me suis fait prendre par un chien policier...
Voir plus ici:
http://blog.droit-et-photographie.com/photos-metro-et-gare-a-vous/

Vagabonde said...

I returned to my computer so I read all your back posts. I am pleased that you posted on “un-touristic” parts of Paris – these areas are rarely seen on blogs on Paris – they only show the pretty areas, but they are parts of the city and you had a great post on the 18ième arrondissement. I also liked all your photos of parks and flowers - spring is so lovely in Paris. I come to check your blog often to keep up to date on what is happening in our city. As for the Metro I was surprised to see the garlands on the station Louvres-Palais Royal. I wrote a post on the Palais-Royal but I also wrote about the history and most people who read up on Paris monuments don’t care about Parisian history – they just want a quick look at the tourist sites – it is our new generation I guess only interested in speed and non pas à flâner.

Compared to the US copyright laws in France are a lot stricter, and I think much better – for example I rarely take pictures of people in France without their permission. I did take some pictures in the Metro, but of my husband in it. I know that the Metro authorities don’t like pictures. By the way, I am so pleased that the City of Paris has finally gotten rid of all those ugly love locks on the Pont des Arts this week – will you do a quick post on that and show the progress made?

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A great post Peter. The Metro signs are all interesting , I never fail to look at them.. I do laugh though at the YELLOW "M" .. I think some would think there is a McDonalds around .. hahaha.
It is also the Lamps that are fascinating. Thanks for sharing, Take care Anne

Studio at the Farm said...

Good post, Peter. I must admit, I still love those old "Metropolitain" signs from the early 20th c.
Kathryn

John Schnick said...

Thanks for a fascinating story. The graphics on the Metro are splendid and readable. BART, in my hometown, has small, dim, Helvetica signs. Like a faded photo from the 1970s.