St Martin, Phantom Metro Station – Paris, France

St Martin, the most interesting of several phantom metro stations in Paris, two levels, four platforms, active lines and rarely seen relics of a forgotten time in the Paris metro’s history.

The Parisian underground rail network is over 100 years old, and in that time there have been few modifications, extensions and additions, to say the least. So what that means for us is abandoned stations.

Before the Second World War, the French government drafted plans in case of invasion that included the closing of non-essential stations on the metro, St Martin was one of those stations. The station was closed in September 1939, 8 months before the German invasion and remained closed until the Liberation of Paris in August 1944. The re-opening was short lived and the station was permanently closed soon afterwards due to the close proximity of surrounding stations.

As you may have guessed from looking at the photo, the lines that run through the station are still very active. This photo was taken from the doorway looking into one of the four platforms in the station. From this position we could keep out of site and just enjoy a peak into the private life of trains. Hundreds of people rush by, unaware they are being watched from the dark corners of a phantom station they did not even know existed.

This photo was one of those rare times when multiple color temperature light sources worked well.

This platform was once used as shelter for the local homeless population, the wall on the left separates the still active train lines from the former living space. With access to the paris metro system like this, I’d live there.

Both these photos are of advertisements circa 1948, which have never been seen by the public. Note that there is no graffiti, in Paris that means one of two things: they are in a very public place and surrounded in security cameras… or they are very hard to access. In this case, they are very hard to get to…

After the war the metro advertising business was in bad shape, so during the stations brief reopening it was decided that the station would be used as a showcase for what companies could buy in the way of public advertising in the cities metro. However, the station closed soon after and the ads were never used for their intended purpose.

Both these ads are for real products, and “Maizena” (a brand of corn flour) is still in production. These are examples of semi permanent type ads for which a company would pay an annual fee. They are made of hand painted ceramic tiles, which explains why they appear in such good condition after 50 years.

There are sections of the station that were once not so difficult to access, like this corridor, not to far from the exit onto a busy Parisian street. So although I usually don’t give a shit about graff, it is a bit of a shame this has been bombed.

This place is now well secured and inaccessible, so your best chance of seeing it is by keeping face pressed to the glass, it is worth it, there is some cool stuff out there… Some of it might even show up here eventually…

If your interested in this, you might also want to check out posts on the other phantom metro stations in Paris; Arsenal, Croix Rouge, Champ De Mars, Molitor.

32 thoughts on “St Martin, Phantom Metro Station – Paris, France”

  1. Gotta continue a bit.. The thing I’m especially interested about is, how was the second photo taken? It seems there is a metro train running the lenght of the quai but somehow it still seems to be sealed up. And if it really is sealed up, where do the trains to the east run from now? (I never use the 8, so I haven’t noticed this at all)

    Also, how far can one go inside the corridors? can you still get to the old exits? Where do they exist nowadays? Obviously the one used by the Salvation Army is still there, but where are the others?

    The third question is actually quite unrelated, but please bare with me :)
    Directly above the station Strasbourg St. Denis, there seems to be some underground entrances with tiling stating at least the words “coiffure” etc. ad texts. Are these old entrances to the metro or are they something else?

    I would really appreciate if you could enlighten me if you have some info on these :)

    J

  2. Now THAT IS what I’d call an interesting thought on this subject. What I would suggest though is talking to other people involved in the scene and bring to light any conflicting points of view and then update your site or create a new article for us to . I hope you’ll take my advice, I’m looking forward to it! Try to cover off on some graffiti characters (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tStColZ8caA) as well if possible, they’re quite popular at the moment.

  3. Great site! Thanks so much! Question: where were the entrances to the Saint-Martin metro station? Can you still see the entrances (perhaps stairs leading underground) even though they are closed off? Many thanks.

  4. This page is fascinating. I am living on the Place de la République. Everyday, I take the métro on line 9. Everyday, I have a glimpse of that phantom station. Thanks to you, with your pictures, I have a much better view of that forgotten space, just a hundred yards from my flat.

  5. I am reading Fashion At The Edge by Caroline Evans which mentions a Spring /Summer 1992 fashion by Martin Margiela held in the Saint Martin subway station. The 3 main stairwells were lite with 1,600 beeswax candles. Sounds wonderful.

  6. hi i’m working on a analisis about paris brown spaces(non ocupied or abandoned spaces), id like to know if there are other places like this in paris or its surroundings, such as buildings, factories or any place thats deserted. thanks

      1. Hi S Marshall,

        I came across your website while searching google for ghost stations and the likes in Paris since I’m in Paris for (photography)-work for a few weeks. Since I’m shooting some Paris subway series on the homeless people that are jumping in and out of trains to hustle some change from people I figures it would be very nice to visit ghost stations, abandoned places and buildings etc. I just read through the comments and came across yours above. I would very much like to recieve the list you were talking about, if that’s ok with you. Can’t wait to find out about new (for me) undiscovered places that are so nice to take pictures off. If it’s ok with you, you can maybe send that list to hello [at] staygoldphotography [.] com

        Thanks in advance and props for your website. Definitely in my bookmarks!

        Cheers,

  7. [...] Both these ads are for real products, and I believe “Maizena” (a brand of corn flour) is still in production. These are examples of semi permanent type ads for which a company would pay an annual fee. They are made of hand painted ceramic tiles, which explains why they appear in such good condition after 50 years.” – courtesy of Pridian.net [...]

  8. I am writing a paper about underground homeless in different cultures. The idea of homeless people living underground in abandoned subway and train tunnels in New York is very well know. Do you know anything about homeless individuals in Paris living in abandoned or unused Metro tunnels? I have been searching the internet but have not found any sources about it.

    1. There are not too many homeless people living in abandoned sections of the Paris metro. The abandoned parts are just too hard to access and are pretty much inhospitable.

  9. Congratulations for your Métro explorations ! I

    On a pure photographic point of view, I don’t understand the second picture. The question has been asked before, but how did you do it ? There seems to be a train passing, but I can see no railroad tracks.

    You probably know about it, but you can find abandoned train stations in Paris too : What we call “la Petite Ceinture” is an old and disused railroad track around Paris. It is not underground but is worth the discovery if you like these kinds of atmosphere… Good Luck !

    1. That photo is taken from close to platform level (un-extended tripod), the tracks are lower so you can’t see them.

      Yep, you’ll find a few photos of the Petite Ceinture on this site if you take a look around.

  10. Pingback: Photography
  11. Pingback: maske
  12. When you go past st martin on the metro can you see the paltform as you go past or it is being blocked by a wall and how many passengers were using the station before it was abandoned

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>