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Posts tagged ‘RER Line ‘C’’


Gare du Champs de Mars

WHEN I TRAVEL IN Paris I mostly use either the Métro or the buses but rarely the RER. The RER, or Réseau Express Régional, of course does crisscross Paris but I only seem to use it when travelling further afield to the Parisian suburbs.


The RER Network across Paris and the Île-de-France

The other day I was on an RER train returning to Paris from a sound recording assignment in the suburbs when I alighted at the RER station ‘Champs de Mars – Tour Eiffel’. Although I pass this station frequently on my regular 82 bus journeys I had never actually been inside so I took this opportunity to have a look round and, of course, to capture the atmosphere in sound.

Inside the Gare du Champs de Mars:

There are two unassuming entrances to the station, one at the junction of the Quai Branly and the Avenue de Suffren …


… and the other further along the Quai Branly at the Pont Bir-Hakeim.


Entering the station from the entrance close to the Avenue de Suffren the unassuming feel continues. There is no huge concourse but rather a narrow corridor leading to the ticket barrier.


There are only two platforms at the station conveniently named ‘A’ and ‘B’ and the signage is good too, which is just as well since thousands of tourists use this station to get to and from the most visited attraction in Paris, Le Tour Eiffel. Many tourists wanting to venture from the city centre to the Palace of Versailles also use this station.


It’s only once you pass the ticket barrier and have figured out which platform you need (for the Palace of Versailles you need Platform ‘A’ by the way) that you begin to get a different feel for this station.


RER Line ‘C’ – Direction Pontoise

The sweeping platforms are very long and from Platform ‘B’ you can look out across La Seine.


RER Line ‘C’ – Direction Versailles

Today’s Champs de Mars – Tour Eiffel station dates from 1988 when the Vallée de Montmorency – Invalides branch of RER Line ‘C’ opened. This stretch of line used a large part of the infrastructure of the former ligne de petite ceinture dating from 1867.

Today’s station may have only been here since 1988 but it is in fact the fifth railway station to have occupied this site.

The first Gare du Champs de Mars was built to connect the Petite-Ceinture to the Champ de Mars and the site of the 1867 Exposition Universelle, or World’s Fair. This station was demolished shortly after the Exposition.


Bird’s Eye view of the site of the 1867 Exposition Universelle in the Champs de Mars

Image via Wikipedia

For the 1878 Exposition Universelle, again held in Paris on the Champs de Mars, another Gare du Champs de Mars was built.


Gare du Champs de Mars in 1878

Image via Wikipedia

This station was designed and built by the French architect, Juste Lisch who, amongst other things, also designed the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris. This station survived longer than its predecessor and it was used for the 1889 Exposition Universelle as well. In 1897 though the station was demolished and moved to Bois-Colombes on the outskirts of Paris.


The 1878 Gare du Champs de Mars in situ at Bois-Colombes

Image via Wikipedia

For the 1900 Exposition Universelle, this time featuring the newly built Tour Eiffel, another Gare du Champs de Mars was built and the line was moved closer to la Seine and extended to Invalides.


Gare du Champs de Mars in 1900

Image via Wikipedia

As well as a station for passengers, a goods station was built close by between the Avenue de Suffren and the Boulevard de Grenelle. After the 1900 Exposition the passenger station was closed, the goods station became a coal depot and from 1937 it was transformed into engine sheds. The former goods station was finally closed in 1971.

Although the 1900 Gare du Champs de Mars no longer exists it is possible to imagine something of it by walking along the Promenade du quai Branly between the Pont d’Iéna (opposite the Tour Eiffel) and the Pont Bir-Hakeim and looking back towards the Tour Eiffel. Along this stretch of the Promenade du quai Branly some of the original wall of the 1900 station remains.


Part of the original wall of the 1900 Gare du Champs de Mars

The Gare du Champs de Mars and its association with the Expositions Universelle held in the Champs de Mars close by is of interest to me partly because I find the history of these Expos fascinating (Paris also hosted the 1937 one as well) but also because Paris is bidding to hold the Exposition Universelle in 2025.

It just so happens that my local Mayor and Deputé (Member of Parliament) is leading the bid so I must ask him if we can expect yet another new Gare du Champs de Mars in 2025!



Gare de Javel

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.