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Paris Metro Line 12 Must-Sees

The Line Taking You To Notre Dames In the North & South
Paris metro line 12 at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette
Last updated November 7, 2023
Taking you from the southern suburbs to neighborhoods up north, Paris Metro Line 12 leads you to some superbe shopping, charming churches, and a stunning concert hall right on the Seine. These are the stops you won’t want to miss.

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Running pretty much straight from south to north, with a little wriggle in the center, Paris’s Metro Line 12 links the suburbs Issy-les-Moulineaux in the south with Aubervilliers in the north. When opened in 1910, the line initially connected the Montparnasse neighborhood in the south with the hilltop Montmartre district in the north, but has been extensively expanded upon over the years. 

Never ridden the Paris metro before? Here are the simple dos and don’ts.

Map of Paris metro line 12

As suburbs go, Issy-les-Moulineaux, named for the windmills that once stood here but have long since disappeared, has rather nice scenic spots along the Seine, with the island Ile Saint-Germain offering a beautiful park.

A little further down toward the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, which can be reached by Metro Line 9, lies another island, the Ile Seguin, with the fabulous Seine Musicale concert hall.

Seine Musicale Paris music venue on the Seine river
La Seine Musicale

Line 12 enters the Paris city limits at Porte de Versailles, where you can catch regular conventions and consumer fairs. It then follows along Rue de Vaugirard, the longest street in Paris. While at Porte de Versailles, be sure to walk the few yards over to the entrance of the Petite Ceinture, the old belt railway turned trail from where you can stroll along the gentrified tracks to the pretty Parc George Brassens.

If you love old metro station buildings, pop up to Volontaires, which has a lovely exterior. Next up Pasteur, with its famous institute, and then Montparnasse-Bienvenüe gives access to the railway station with trains to cities such as Toulouse and Bordeaux in the southwest, as well as Brest and St Malo in the north and La Rochelle on the Atlantic Coast.

The zig-zag escalators in Paris department store Le Bon Marché
Le Bon Marché department store in Paris

Shoppers won’t want to miss the stop Sèvres-Babylone which is right by the department store Le Bon Marché and the historic Hotel Lutetia. The nearby Rue de Bac is also one of Paris’s best shopping streets.

Line 12 then crosses the Seine at Assemblée Nationale, lying just in between the Eiffel Tower to the left and the Musée d’Orsay to the right, making its next stop on the Right Bank at Concorde. This photogenic metro station is covered in tiles spelling out France’s revolutionary 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. 

Man siting on bench on platform of Concorde metro station in Paris

Onward to Madeleine with its temple-like church and another train station, this one Gare Saint-Lazare, taking you to various suburbs such as Versailles.

The next must-get-out-and-explore stop on Line 12 is Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, from where you can walk up the Rue des Martyrs all the way to Montmartre. The street is filled with shops, cafés, and much residential Parisian life, and inspired the book The Only Street in Paris: Life on Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino, worth reading before you set off.

Pigalle takes you right to the not-to-miss Bouillon Pigalle, a traditional restaurant where you can sample typical French dishes in a classic setting, and on a budget. From here, either hop back onto the metro to the next stop or walk up the busy lanes to Abbesses.

Art Nouveau metro entrance at Abbesses
Abbesses metro station in Montmartre. Photo by Alexander Baranov, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

This station offers a challenge, not only because it’s the deepest station in Paris, but it also begs to be walked up and down. The seemingly endless 176 steps take you past murals and photographs. But don’t think you can skip either the up or down, it’s one-way traffic, and both directions offer a different permanent exhibition.

Once you reach the light again, Abbesses has one of those typical Art Nouveau entrances, is close to the Wall of ‘I Love You’s, and lies in the heart of lower Montmartre. From here, just around the corner, you can either walk up further, if your legs allow it, or catch the funicular to reach the top of the hill and Sacré-Coeur. 

Sacré coeur on top of the hill of Montmartre

North of Montmartre, station Jules-Joffrin offers a glance into a bustling residential Parisian neighborhood with plenty of cafés. After that, Line 12 takes you into suburbia.


Eager to explore more of Paris by public transportation? Check out our complete guide to taking the metro.

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