Monday, 10 October 2011

Sab's Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs: No.3 ~ "Madeleine"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Metro ~ Signs

Sab's Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs
No.3 ~ "Madeleine" ~ Introduction
 Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

I don't know about you, but for me there's something utterly magical about all those wonderful Paris metro signs, be they the traditional ones we're all familiar with, or the rather more unusual sort we're quite surprised and rather pleased to stumble come across on our cross-city travels.

In fact the variety is far greater than you might expect and their 'form' is far from 'uni'.

I didn't realise that at first though, which is why I rarely paid them much attention; I thought they were all just variations on the good old Hector Guimard Flowy Joey Art Nouveau style. This is not the case.

In this spontaneous series I'll be bringing you ten (or so, I find restrictions so... restricting) of my all time favourite Paris metro signs, classic or otherwise. As I'm writing this introduction with only the first sign below in mind I'd be delighted to have suggestions for the other nine!

It's also a great excuse to have a bit of fun with my cameras, both fancy, and not, the pic directly below being an example of the latter. It's an iPhone shot, played around with afterwards, and the limitations of the camera sure tests the inventivity of the photographer, which is half the fun. I hope you enjoy reading my Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs articles as much as I do writing them, and I look forward to reading your comments sometime down the line!

Sab's Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs
No.3 ~ "Madeleine"

Apart from having a legendary set of toilets (oh yeah, that'll be another "Sab's Top Ten", for sure!), Madeleine has three of the cutest metro signs in the whole of Paris.

These unusual and oh-so evocative metro signs tucked away in the corner of Place de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissement of the city are, for me, at least as charming as the more typical Guimard ones.

That's not to say that they're not art nouveau. Indeed, created in 1910 for the new line 12 by the upstart Nord-Sud company, they could hardly escape the heavy influence of this earthy and sinuous architectural tidal wave which swept across the city at the start of the 20th century.

The second photo below shows a highly unusual gold leafed motif which actually encroaches upon the red background to the white writing and, I'll be humble enough to admit, I thought were real autumn leaves caught in the ironwork until a discovered they were otherwise.

The shape, especially in the single sign below (there are two of the first photo signs - see the last photo for proof) is also charming, a bit like a cup. Not that the letters are particularly vegetale. A hint of the forthcoming art deco, with its geometric shapes and angles perhaps? I like to think so.

But the interest doesn't stop there. These Paris metro signs singularly unusual for their incorporation of the words 'Passage Public' into the sign, indicating that you can also just cross (under) the road by the subway if you wish. Are there any others like this? I haven't done an exhaustive study, but I don't know of any others like them off the top of my head.

Click on any of the pictures here to get bigger versions to see the lovely detail. I'm afraid they were all taken on an iPhone 3GS, which means pretty crumby resolution, but that's the challenge I'm giving myself these days.

The first and last pics were also taken in very low light as you can probably see, but the one in the middle of the prettiest Madeleine metro sign includes a quiz question if you wish: What are the top right and bottom left reddy-orange bits which perfectly frame the subject of the photo? Answers on a train ticket...  ;~S



* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

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