Sign for a Paris Metro station

You may have seen signs like this in Toulouse-Lautrec paintings. What thrilled me is that this really is the sign to indicate a Métro station. Public, functional Art Nouveau. Wow. Evidently Paris hired an artist around 1895 to create a number of these Art Nouveau Métro entrances.

This is in a plaza behind the Louvre; there were mimes performing for money, and rollerbladers skating around furiously. I asked a woman at a newsstand where I could find une toilette, and she practically snarled, "Là-bas! Juste devant vous!" ("Over there! Right behind you!") I still didn't see them, but I was so intimidated that I thanked her anyway and moved on. Ah, the French.

I got on the Métro here and rode a few stops to the Franklin D. Roosevelt station, at the other end of the Champs-Elysées. I didn't want to run into the amorous Frenchman again, so I skipped the Arc de Triomphe and the obelisk -- my guidebook said that the Champs-Elysées are disturbingly Disneyfied these days, so I wasn't that bent on seeing them in the first place.


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Emily Way (
Last updated August 12, 1999