Arsenal is a ghost station on the Paris Métro system in France which has been abandoned since World War II. Although sometimes used for training purposes, the station is mostly derelict and closed to the public. It has become popular with French urban explorers but trespassers are dealt with harshly by the authorities.
The Paris Métro began construction in November 1898. Unlike other underground systems at the time, such as the one in London, the Paris system was designed as a network of nine lines from the beginning and so the project was a massive undertaking. The name comes from the original company to operate the system, La Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris and became shortened to Le Métropolitain and then again to Métro and is now used as a common name for various underground systems throughout the world. The name came from the already successful Metropolitan Railway operating in London and now part of the London Underground system.
Before the construction of the the Paris Métro, the city was served by the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture, or Circulaire, an orbital line which joined the city’s main train stations. It had been suggested as early as 1845 that an urban system to link the inner city was needed. The Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture became obsolete as the Métro grew and was eventually abandoned.
The first line, Porte Maillot–Porte de Vincennes, was opened on 19 July 1900 during the Exposition Universelle of 1900, commonly known as the Paris World’s Fair. Entrances to the station were designed the Art Nouveau style by Hector Guimard and are now regarded as a symbol of the city.
Line 5 was opened in 1906 and ran from Place d’Italie to Gare d’Orléans. It was extended to Gare de Lyon soon after and various further extensions occurred in the next few years eventually terminating in Étoile and Gare du Nord.
Arsenal station originally opened with the line in 1906. It was located between Bastille and Quai de la Rapée in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. The area was home to the Arsenal de Paris, the former royal ammunition and weapons depot on the right bank of the Seine next to the Bastille. Today, the only remaining part of the original complex is the Arsenal Library.
Services to Arsenal were suspended on 2 September 1939 after the outbreak of World War II. Many employees of the Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris (CMP) were mobilised to fight in the the war and services on the Paris Métro were greatly reduced. The risk of bombing meant the service between Place d’Italie and Étoile was transferred from Line 5 to Line 6. This raised section of the system was deemed to be safer running underground. Many of the stations on the Paris Métro system were too shallow to be used as bomb shelters.
Arsenal did not reopen when services were reinstated on Line 5 after the war. The closure was initially planned for a short period but it never reopened. The entrances remain in place but are boarded up and locked. It has remained abandoned since 1939. Today, the station is partly used as a training station for staff of Paris Métro operator RATP and can be accessed from boulevard Bourdon.
In 2014, concept art was released with suggestions for converting some of the disused Métro station. Suggestions for Arsenal included a swimming pool, gallery or nightclub. There has been additional discussion suggesting the stations be opened to tourists visiting Paris. None of the plans have yet to come to fruition.
In total there are 303 stations and 16 lines on the Paris Métro and it is the second busiest underground system in Europe after Moscow. There are four additional lines now under construction. The stations are located quite close together when compared to similar underground systems with an average of 548 metres distance between stops.