© Paris Tourist Office -
Photographe : Catherine Balet
Fulgence Bienvenüe, Chief Engineer for bridges and roadways, accepted the network project in July 1897, and work began on 4th October 1898. The first line (Porte de Vincennes - Porte Maillot) was opened to the public on 19 July 1900 in order to serve the events of the 1900 summer Olympic Games at the Bois de Vincennes. The putting in place of the metro was agreed upon by the state and the city of Paris to remedy the problem of increasingly insufficient surface transport. They were thinking ahead, in particular, to the upcoming World Fair of 1900. The original project comprised a circular line running Étoile-Nation-Étoile and two transversal lines, one running north-south (Porte de Clignancourt-Porte d'Orléans) and the other east-west (Avenue Gambetta - Porte Maillot). Two management companies then came into being: CMP (Compagnie du métro parisien) and the Nord-Sud company, each using different decorations for their stations.

Different stations even bore the same name on the two different lines, there were two stations called Grenelle, for example)


©Paris Tourist Office -
Photographe : Catherine Balet
By 1913, the metro network had already grown to comprise ten lines: 8 were the property of CMP and the remaining two belonged to Nord-Sud (the current lines 12 and 13). From 55 million in 1901, the number of passengers had increased to 467 million by 1913. The network continued to grow during the First World War. Between the two wars, lines 9, 10 and 11 were opened and the two management companies merged into one.

It was all the way to 15th October 1998 before another new line was opened: the 14, initially running from Madeleine and to the National Library, then extended to cover gare Saint-Lazare. The 14 is a modern automated line, considerably reducing waiting time. It is also the line that serves as a demonstration model for RATP and the manufacturer, Alstom.

Previously, another line had carried the number 14: this was the southern part of what is now line 13 (south of Invalides). At that time, line 13 had its terminus at Saint Lazare and the two sections between Saint Lazare and Invalides were joined in the 1970’s. It was proposed that the unlucky number 13 should be deleted from the network, in the same way that it is not used in aeroplanes or hotels, but in the case of the metro, the idea didn’t stick. The carriages of line 13 were originally unique (but later adopted on lines 7 and 8), having been designed taking into account the suggestions of passengers, a notable difference is the softness of the lighting in these carriages.

Despite the fact that the highest numbered metro is the 14, there are in fact sixteen lines. This resulted from the splitting of lines 3 and 7 (in 1971 and 1967 respectively), which necessitated the creation of the short lines 3bis and 7bis.

The Paris metro is principally run by RATP, which also manages the city’s buses and tramways and partly manages the RER (Réseau Express Régional) in Paris.