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July 29, 2012


Gare de Javel

by soundlandscapes

I WAS MAKING MY WAY to the Parc André Citroën in the 15th arrondissement when I came upon the Gare de Javel.

It’s a train station on Line ‘C’ of the RER, the Paris suburban rail system and it was built for the Exposition Universelle in 1889. It stands on a bridge over the railway line.

The French architect, Jean Juste Gustave Lisch, specialised in designing civic works and especially stations. He designed the main line railway station in Paris, Gare Saint-Lazare. He also designed the Gare de Javel in the Chinese pagoda style that was typical of the time.

Originally, the station was called ‘Pont Mirabeau’ and it’s not hard to see why. It stands close to that magnificent structure which is now a listed historical monument.

Not only was I interested in looking at the station, I was also interested in capturing some sounds of the RER. On my way to the Parc André Citroën, I walked to the Porte de Javel where the RER line is close to the quay. I waited for what seemed like ages and nothing happened and then, in a sudden burst of activity, two trains arrived at once. The first one, coming from the left, was on the line furthest away from me and the second, coming from the right, was on the line closest to me … probably too close I thought.

RER Trains at Porte de Javel:

The Gare de Javel stands next to la Seine on the Quai André Citroën. The word ‘Javel’ in the station’s name derives from the village of Javel where the Comte d’Artois had an enterprise making ‘eau de Javel’, or ‘bleach’. In 1915, André Citroën opened a factory making munitions on this site. This subsequently became the Citroën car factory and it remained so until its closure in 1974. Today, this site is the Parc André Citroën and it’s just a short walk from the Gare de Javel.

After my visit to the Parc André Citroën I returned to the Gare de Javel and caught the RER to the Tour Eiffel, which was the talk of the town at the Exposition Universelle in 1889. This is what the journey sounded like yesterday. Sadly, we can only guess what it sounded like in 1889.

Gare de Javel to Champs des Mars – Tour Eiffel:

Those who follow my Paris Métro sounds, particularly the sounds of Métro Line 5, will immediately notice the difference in the texture of the sounds between the Métro and the RER. On the Métro it’s usually the sounds of the train that dominate the sounds of the people. On the RER the reverse is usually true.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 2 2012

    Your post certainly shows the value of patience when recording out in the field. I know the feeling of switching everything off only for the anticipated sound to finally happen. Your post also shows the value of field recording as an archival process, in relation to how the areas you are attracted to might once have sounded.

  2. Aug 6 2012

    This is fascinating, and it is interesting to know a little more about the history of the station. The recordings are wonderful. I can close my eyes and imagine myself there for a minute or so.


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