Ghost subway stations

Saint-Martin, Croix-Rouge, Porte des Lilas, Haxo… You may never heard about these French subway stations. And as a matter of fact these stations are ghost or closed since a long time. In Paris we can count up to 11 of those “special” subway stations.
Several were closed while the beginning of World War 2 for economy reasons and because fewer people had to take the subway during this black period.
Only 85 stayed open over the 300 stations. They all reopened after the war excepted 6 stations that were judged useless because other stations were too near (some stations were only 100m far from each other!) This is the case for Saint-Martin definitely closed in 1939 because Strasbourg – Saint-Denis was too close to it. Saint-Martin was initially on lines 8 and 9. There still stay old ceramic advertisements from the 30’s. A part of the station is still used by the Armée du Salut to host homeless people.

Other stations were built but not completed. This is the case for Haxo and Porte Molitor. They were initialy built as a junction between lines 3 and 7 and between lines 9 and 10. Porte Molitor was also built for deserving the Parc des Princes. But the too complicated use of the stations drive to a dead-born project. The stations were never finished and even no stairways nor access were made for users.

Two other stations are still open but not for everyone. This is the case for a platform at Invalides and the station Porte des Lilas – Cinema. This one is very famous because it still used by movies producers. Fake name plates can be made in order to transform this station into another one (Pont-Neuf, Pigalle or Pyramides). This platform appear for example in the movie “Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain”.

Hope one day if it could get me the chance to go in one of these ghost stations. And you? Would you like it?


Granpa, tell me about the Minitel…

Minitel banner
Last month I made you discover a forgotten French high technology invention of the 60’s: The Aerotrain
This time let’s talk about another great French invention: the Minitel.

Officially launched on 1982, the Minitel experimentations began on 1980 with more than 4000 Minitel terminals given for free to users to replace the French phone books called “les pages Blanches”. The cost of an electronic terminal is lower than printing thousand of pages every year.

The Minitel service is based on a dedicated network created specially for it: the Télétel. The services or programs are on servers and the user only owns a terminal composed of a screen, a keyboard and a modem. There is no processor, memory or hard drive in a Minitel.

Here are several version of the Minitel terminals:

The first ever Minitel The Minitel 1 with 8 colors screen
The first ever Minitel The Minitel 2 with 8 colors screen
90's Minitel equiped with smart card reader Tiny portable Minitel 5
90’s Minitel equipped with smart card reader Tiny portable Minitel 5

Minitel services were very large and could be like:

  • Electronic phone book
  • Mail order selling
  • Movie showtimes
  • Games
  • Baccalaureate outcomes
  • Weather channel
  • Bank account
  • Erotic messaging service…

Below is a short video showing the how works a famous Minitel service: 3615 ULLA!

In 2002, the Minitel service was at its peak. About half the French people were used to use it. At this time the Minitel was offering more than 25 000 services. Even the Americans were far late with very few users of a similar network. Minitel gave envy to countries over the World and contributed to make the France a country ahead of its time.

For those who have never used the Minitel, hurry up until the service close on June 2012, 30 years after it was launched…

The sad story of the Aerotrain

What’s an Aerotrain? I never heard about a such vehicle may tell you!

The Aerotrain is a French invention build for the first time in 1965. It’s an air cushion train build for high-speed travels between big cities. Remind us that in the 60’s, the only speed vehicle was the train with a max speed of 150 km/h.

Several studies were launched to resolve this lack of high-speed transports.

French engineer Bertin designed the first air cushion vehicle called Aerotrain #1.

This first Aerotrain was 10 meters long, weighted 2.6 tons and was able to carry 4 passengers and 2 pilots. It traveled at a top speed of 200 km/h on the short 6.7 km concrete rail specially build for it between Gometz-la-Ville and Limours.

On 1967, Bertin engineer put a jet plane reactor on it to achieve a record speed of 345 km/h!

Below is a short video showing the Aerotrain #2 build on 1969 who broke another time the speed record with 422 km/h thanks to a 1250 kg thrust Pratt & Witney reactor.

The experimental Aerotrain #2

Thanks to good results, Bertin engineering company got help from the French politics to build a larger concrete rail and bigger aerotrain.

On July 1969, a 20 km rail was built in the northern Orleans which could be extended for the future Paris-Orleans line.

The Aerotrain I-80, including 80 seats rode at 250 km/h. He was modified another time with a jet reactor to achieve a 400 km/h top speed. About 3000 people traveled by this way for test purpose.

including 80 seats

In 1974, the French government made ​​a deal with Jean Bertin to build a commercial line between Cergy and La Défense.

But in July 1974, new French president decided to cancel this contract for the profit of a new train : the TGV (High Speed Train). Jean Bertin, exhausted by all these years of hard work, died of cancer on late 1975.

The Aerotrain prototype stayed on warehouse for long tim. Several were destroyed by arson on 1991 and 1992.

Today, the Aerotrain still owns the world speed record for a vehicle on air cushion.

The Urban Exploration Ring vs THECOOLIST*

It has been quite difficult for me to find companies related to abandoned places or urban explorations. Maybe because it’s illegal or because only a few people like me are interested in? I choose to compare two websites about abandoned places over the world.

The first one is called THECOOLIST*. This post deals with 10 beautiful creepy modern ruins. We can see extraordinary places where life seems to be stopped. They are located all over the world like in Berlin, New York City, Russia, Ukraine, … The photos are always beautiful with extra colours or other improvement. The feeling of eeriness, mystery, curiosity is always present. Thecoollist preview
The Urban Exploration Ring The second website is called The Urban Exploration Ring. The feeling of sadness and fear is reinforced with the black background. Subjects are a more gloomy that Some links are dark and morbid as they treat of Chernobyl or abandoned hospitals with photos of old human organs in bottles…
So choose your side!

Japan’s Rotting Metropolis – Abstract

Hashima Island
Today I propose to bring you in Japan, on an island situated at one hour from Nagasaki harbour.
Hashima Island was a 1.2 square kilometer populated by over 13,000 people. It was the most densely populated place on earth. This island was owned by Mitsubishi Motor for its former coal mining facilities. It was occupied from 1887 to 1974, period where the coal was healthy. Then, the mines were shut and people decided to go back to the mainland leaving all their stuff in this mini urban nightmare.
Today it’s illegal to go on this island. The Japanese government is very strict and anybody being caught on Hashima island is subject to 30 days of prison and deportation.
But a little group of people decided to visit this rotten island at their own risks. They made a deal with a local fisherman who accepted to bring them on the island for few hours.
The pictures are simply impressive. All the buildings are crumbling. Entire facades have fallen to ground, every iron structure has totally rotten. On each floor can be seen 70’s TV sets, old shoes, empty bottles, newspapers, ….
The life on this island should have been totally uncomfortable, like in prison with no outdoor spaces. Don’t forget that this place where the most densely populated on earth.

The entrance
crumbling buildings
abandoned classroom

To learn more about this prison-like island please follow the link japan island
Reading this article makes me totally curious but sad, wistful.
You will see unthinkable pictures of an extraordinary abandoned place, asking you how could be the life before…

Mirapolis !

The Mirapolis Logo

Have you ever heard about this forgotten amusement park ? Probably the first biggest theme park in France, Mirapolis was located at Cergy Pontoise, near Paris.

With a surface area of 220 acres, this amusement park had opened first in 1987.  It counted up to 45 attractions.

With its Gargantua statue (the second world biggest hollow statue after Statue Of Liberty), Mirapolis was recognizable from miles away.

The biggest hollow statue of Gargantua

Why this park lasted only 3 years ?

First of all, the huge area was very bad thought. The several roller coasters were too far from each other and people had to walk so far it was annoying.

During the first year of exploitation, fairground people refused this park and distributed over 1,500 fake entrance tickets.

Fairground people have caused great harm to Mirapolis and the park suffered huge business losses.

2 years later, the park owner filed a petition for bankruptcy. Fairground people continued to take advantage of the amusements ride.

One year later, the park fell apart.

In 1995, the Gargantua’s head threatened to fall down and was dynamited.

Now there is nothing in this park, except vegetation and some rusty whirligig.

Last saturday, out of curiosity, I decided to go for a ride at this forgotten park. The pictures talk for themselves. There’s nothing left of the park, except the entrance grid and a few abandoned carousels.

The entrance grids

The entrance grids, with their famous elephants

an abandoned carousel

Behind the entrance grid, an abandoned carousel

The cash desk

The cash desk today, inhabited now by homeless people and junkies

The cash desk in 1987

The cash desk in 1987

Hope this topic left you a bit weepy. This park would have been the greatest in France before Asterix and Disneyland.
Should this park must be brought back to life?
Don’t hesitate to leave a comment!