Metro Magic: Multifaceted Abbesses

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Metro Magic: Multifaceted Abbesses
This is the fourth in a monthly series of stories about the wonders of the Paris Metro System. Iconic staircases are prominent throughout Paris. The vertical 1665 steps connecting three floors of the Eiffel Tower, surrounding you in iron lace as you navigate the unending swirl. The Arc de Triomphe’s 295 steps with its ultimate arc-top view of the city’s spoked boulevards (stay tuned for the Christo wrapping in September). The 460 steps in the claustrophobic spiral to the Notre-Dame belltower (now closed for who knows how many years). A spiral staircase deep in the heart of Montmartre. Photo by Meredith Mullins Metro Abbesses One of the most unique sets of stairs in Paris can be found hidden in the heart of the 18th arrondissement at the Abbesses metro, the deepest station in the city. The Line 12 metro platforms are buried 36 meters below ground at Place des Abbesses near the base of the Butte Montmartre. The Abbesses/Montmartre area has the feel of a village— with its windmills, vineyards, cabarets, and artists of past and present. Although the neighborhood is sometimes overtouristed, you can still be captivated by its charm. A charming neighborhood, below and above ground. Photo by Meredith Mullins When you wind your way up (or down) the stairs, you’re immersed in a spiral art gallery that previews what lies above in the artistic community of Montmartre —  ghosts of past artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, Braque, Van Gogh, Matisse, Valadon, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, and Renoir; café and cabaret scenes; the natural beauty of the countryside; and a hint of more stairs . . .  leading up to Basilica of Sacré-Coeur. Abbesses is the deepest metro station in Paris, so be ready for the climb to the exit. Photo by Meredith Mullins As you exit the metro car to the platform, you are forewarned. There are 144 stairs to the metro exit — a challenging vertical climb. The good news is that there is also an elevator.

Lead photo credit : The Abbesses Metro Station Entrance. Photo by Meredith Mullins

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Meredith Mullins is an internationally exhibited fine art photographer and instructor based in Paris. Her work is held in private and museum collections in Europe and the U.S. and can be seen at or in her award-winning book "In A Paris Moment." (If you’re in Paris, a few rare, signed copies are available at Shakespeare and Company and Red Wheelbarrow.) She is a writer for OIC Moments and other travel and education publications.


  • Geraldine Connor
    2021-09-10 11:04:58
    Geraldine Connor
    I have never been to that station, but you have inspired me to go the next time I can be in Paris. Lovely article.


  • Theresa Lapin
    2021-09-09 06:30:02
    Theresa Lapin
    Loved this article. I've climbed those steps a few times!


    •  Meredith
      2021-09-12 09:02:06
      Dear Theresa, Thank you for your comment. Yes, there were many months when the station was being remodeled when the elevator was not working. It IS a long climb! All best, Meredith