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Paris’s ghost subway stations reimagined: Three looks that may bring them back to life

Abandoned rail terminals always look tragic, but there's something mysterious about disused subway stations. They're hidden, like caves, or like the burial places of plans and desires that went nowhere. Paris has several ghost stations that mayoralty candidate and former cabinet minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet – NKM to Parisians – wants to turn to other uses.


She got architects Nicolas Laisné and Manal Rachdi to sketch plans for an underground nightclub, restaurant or swimming pool in the Arsenal metro station, which lies near the Canal Saint-Martin and has been closed to the public since 1939.

Computer renderings preserve the station’s broad arched ceiling and passageways, filling in the track area with spaces for dancing, dining or swimming – surely the wittiest of the conversion ideas, in its reversion from electric speed to the very human pace of backstroke and crawl. 

But NKM, an ally of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, is trailing in the race to become Paris’s first female mayor, and likely won’t prevent Socialist candidate and current deputy mayor Anne Hidalgo from winning on March 30. Hidalgo’s electoral platform is heavy on housing and transport policy, notably silent on new underground sites for after-hours fun. NKM’s plans could well turn out to be as ghostly as the places they might have animated.

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