Squeezed between a train and the tunnel wall, just poking our heads over the level of the platform, all four of us eyed off the security camera at the far end of the phantom station. We had made it this far and we weren’t stopping now, this is Paris’ most converted abandoned metro station – Molitor.
Molitor is no ordinary phantom station, it was built but never put into service, meaning that no external access was built. One does not simply walk up to the front door, you have to do it via the tunnels. To do it via the tunnels, you have to know more than how to do it without getting killed… there is more than one reason why Molitor is the hardest abandoned metro station to access.
Molitor is built on a line that was never used for it’s intended purpose, which was to service the well dressed folks who live around Parc Des Princes. After construction the idea was scrapped and the Murat tunnel, on which the Molitor station is located, became a train garage for line 9 trains… lots of them. This is what makes Molitor no ordinary Saturday night in the tunnels.
Dsankt, Snapple, Quantum-x and myself, semi reluctantly left the Champagne and luxury of the Everland pod to make our way through the cold, deserted streets of the 16th arrondisment. Molitor was the last big item left on the do list from the infamous metro blitz of 2009. We had visited all the other abandoned metro stations, walked countless kilometers of tunnel, and hid in so many tunnel duck-outs that being in the tunnels on foot was about as familiar as riding through them in a train.
Like fifth graders on a Friday after school we blazed our way across Paris on Velibs, direction Parc Des Princes. Despite the antics this was a well planned affair. There is a golden two and a half hours in which risky metro exploration is possible, between when the trains return to the depots and before they go back into service. We had a long way to go in those two and a half hours and we were planning on doing it without being caught or worse.
We had several kilometers of tunnels to walk before we reached the station and we knew we would have to deal with security systems designed to protect the trains from graffers. Firstly the IR detectors, then the cameras and finally the guards and train cleaners.
Stepping into the tunnels we all had the feeling that this was the point of no return, once we started along those tunnels we were committed to whatever happened until we stepped back out into the early morning streets of Paris.
Photo by dsankt
This is one of the more complicated sections of the network, in terms of the number of tunnels, interconnections and ways to get lost. I was impressed with the efficiency in which we navigated our way to our first major obstacle, the floor to ceiling IR detectors. This signaled the start of the train garages and where things start to get serious.
With ninja like movements we past through the IR beams faster than the speed of light. We reasoned that this would prevent the detectors from being triggered thus ensuring that a no one would be alerted to our presence. Ultimately ensuring that a battalion of RATP security guards would not be sent down the tunnels in our pursuit, essential to the success of our mission.
Walking along those wooden duckboards on the sides of the tunnels was nerve racking. We needed to be in and out quickly, but unfortunately speed and moving quietly are not mutually exclusive – those duckboards are noisy, especially in the silence of an RATP garage at 4:00am. So we crept along seemingly endless tunnels in the space between the parked trains and the tunnel wall, all the time scanning ahead for signs of what might later be dragging us away in handcuffs.
After an eternity of creeping, stopping, listening, creeping, stopping, listening the station was in sight. We bunched up in the tunnel and peered over the platform into the station. We were about to walk into no mans land.
With one last committing glance between us, we strolled up the steps and there we were, standing on the platforms of Molitor.
We’d planned no more than five minutes on the platform. There was a security camera in the station and we did not want to give the security guard watching the monitors more time than he needed to call in the RATP Gestapo.
It was all over quickly. Doing this kind of thing is a journey not a destination but we all knew the journey was far from over. The only way out is the way we had just come.
After doing everything in reverse, creeping back along the tunnels, passing of IR barriers and navigating the multi-way junctions we made it back to a point where we could relax. With a bit of time before the trains started running and enough distance between us and Molitor, we sat around basking in the afterglow of a successful mission, drinking Maximator and enjoying the last few moments of silence in the tunnels.
Missions like this don’t run like clockwork first time, in fact this mission is the last of a series of trials. Check out sleepycity.net for Hount and dsankt’s pioneering visit as well as adventuretwo.net for the story of the eventfull second mission.
Shouts to the dedicated ninjas dsankt, Snapple, Quantum-X and Hount.