Behind the Paris Metro
YESTERDAY, I TRAVELLED on Metro Line 1 to Bastille, something I do often. And, even though I travelled on one of the sparkling new automatic trains, I took the journey pretty much for granted. Alighting at Bastille, I emerged from the exit at the Boulevard Henry IV, which is something I seldom do.
Just off the Boulevard Henry IV I came upon this building.
A very helpful plaque on the wall told me that this was once the sous-station électrique Bastille built in 1911 and designed by the architect Paul Friésé. Now a national monument, this was once part of a chain of early twentieth-century electrical sub-stations used to supply power to the Paris Metro.
I don’t know what this building looked like inside when it was opened but I think we can assume that it looked something like this postcard depiction of another electrical sub-station at Quai de la Rapée.
Today, a company called TDF (Transformation et Distribution de l’Énergie électrique) is responsible for managing the power requirements of the Paris Metro and I was surprised to learn that 90% of the electricity used comes from Austria and Germany rather than from France.
While I was admiring this piece of industrial archaeology, below ground in the Metro station Bastille, life was as colourful as ever.
Below ground at Bastille:
As a regular traveller on the Paris Metro I seldom give any thought to the vast infrastructure that lies behind the operation of the Metro. Yesterday at least made me pause and think about it.