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Photographing Paris from the metro? yes, from line 6

Updated: May 4, 2021

The Paris metro is one of the most efficient urban transport systems in Europe. You can debate about its care, its dirt, its noise, but truth be told, it is an effective mechanism to move around the city, and sometimes it is also a worthwhile walk for photographic explorations.

Of the 16 metro lines, if we had to choose one to photograph, it would undoubtedly be line 6. Its semi-circular route covers the entire south of Paris and is the only metro line that crosses the Seine twice, above the river, and it is that of its almost 14 kilometers long, more than 6 kilometers are built on viaducts. What does that mean? Well, instead of being sunk in the tunnels under the ground -or under water-, you have a privileged point of view of the city.

Its construction began towards the end of the 19th century to guarantee access to the Universal Exhibition of 1900, linking the Arc de Triomphe to Trocadero, as part of line 1. Progressively, the viaducts of the Bir-Hakeim bridge (1903-1906) were built, the from Bercy to the east, the underground stations such as the circular line 2, the aerial stations, fully covered and with brick facades instead of glass and finally, around 1909, more than a hundred years ago, line 6 acquired its current trajectory .

Following this order, it is worth stopping at Passy station where the first aerial section begins over the Bir-Hakeim bridge. This fantastic 230 m long structure can be crossed by metro, it can be photographed from the pedestrian area, it can serve as a setting for photographs with the Eiffel Tower or to start a journey to the southwest on the Ile des Cygnes, where the model of the statue of Liberty. All this makes the Bir-Hakeim bridge one of the most photogenic points of the city where more than one photographer and some filmmaker take advantage of its powerful architecture for very marked linear compositions -look at the film Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio where it is seen fading into a parallel reality.

Photographing through the windows you can see the Eiffel Tower, signs of late 20th century architecture, and Haussmannian architecture until you reach Pasteur station where the line goes underground again to Saint-Jacques station where it retakes its character as a viaduct over stone arches arranged in an impressive longitudinal axis for perspective photos.

It will go underground again towards the Place d'Italie station and will once again be a skytrain at the National station, until it crosses the Seine and enters Bercy. In this section, the Haussmannian architecture will disappear to make way for 20th century architecture, the great works of monumental Street art that the 13th district shines as its flagship, through the district of the National Library of France, which has become the boiling center of the contemporary architecture of Paris, and finally crossing the Seine on the Bercy viaduct with a view to the east of a rarely represented Paris, and to the west, of the powerful building of the Ministry of Economy.

Once underground you can resume the connection to many of the metro lines or continue to the Nation station where line 2 begins, which completes the circular route to the north. On this line you will pass through the Canal del Ourcq, the Sacré Coeur, the neighborhoods of Pigalle, Clichy, Monceau, until you reach the Arc de Triomphe (Charles de Gaule-Étoile station) and join line 6 again.

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