Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sab's Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs: No.5 ~ "Vaneau"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ Metro ~ Signs

Sab's Top Ten Magical Paris Metro Signs
No.5 ~ "Vaneau" ~ 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.5 ~ "Vaneau"

There are few Paris metro station entrances which can match the charm and originality of Vaneau on line 10.

It was constructed in 1923 as part of the first section between Invalides and Croix-Rouge. That's odd, you might be thinking, if you know a little of the Paris metro system.

You see, the line 10 doesn't actually go to Invalides, but carries on in a westerly direction to Duroc, La Motte-Picquet Grenelle and beyond.

And what's this about a Red Cross, I hear you say. Because, try as you might, you won't find a Croix-Rouge station marked anywhere on a modern metro map.

This not being an article on the history of the Paris metro but simply about some of its wonderful station signs, suffice it to say that after 1937 the line was diverted to its current route and two years later Croix-Rouge was considered surplus to requirements and became a ghost station floating in limbo between Sèvres Babylon and Mabillon.

The great thing about this station entrance is that there is so much to admire.

You'll see that due to lack of space, the station was actually built into the wall, as it were, taking a chunk out of the neighbouring hospital thank you very much and signalling its presence with two rather splendid signs saying 'Metro' and 'Station Vaneau'. But that's where the similarity with practically all other metro entrances ends.

There are two more sets of text to discover, each echoing the style of the external signs but also different in their own way.

The first is on the external wall, a sort of creamy white for the letters and a dark background to make them stand out. As I took these shots at night on an iPhone 3GS (it wasn't easy) I can't vouch for the original colours of anything you see here!

The other text is inside the entrance and is an absolutely gorgeous set of almost cartoon letters set into a recess which is painted red, along with the surrounding wall, and the effect is perfect.



* 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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