Paris is traversed by 16 different metro lines, connecting all the city’s hotspots and then some. Knowing which ligne takes you where the fastest is one of the skills to learn before you can call yourself a true Parisian – read our full overview of the Paris subway system here. Here’s all you need to know about the first line, or as we call it, la une.
As the name already indicates, this was the first metro line to open in Paris. July 19, 1900, the stretch between Porte Maillot and Porte de Vincennes opened, with initially only eight stops, all highlights of the 1900 World Fair, but gradually more opened and the line expanded to the suburbs. The yellow line on the subway map now connects the modern business centre of La Défense with its Grande Arche standing in line with the Arc de Triomphe and the smallest, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, in front of the Louvre, and the medieval Château de Vincennes.
Line 1 gets you to many of the top Paris sights and runs pretty much along the Champs Élysées, Rue de Rivoli, under Bastille and past Nation, in a straight line along the West-East axis.
One of the most popular stops is Charles de Gaulle – Étoile, a transportation hub and also home of the Arc de Triomphe at the beginning of the famous Avenue des Champs Élysées. Stop off at Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau for the Petit and the Grand Palais with their ever-changing exhibitions or to pop into the lesser-known Palais de la Découverte if you’re with little ones who love science. From there, you can enjoy a walk across the splendid Pont Alexandre III, crossing the Seine to Les Invalides.
Back on the metro, the next major stop is at Concorde, the large square boasting some incredible luxury hotels as well as the main entrance to the Tuileries Gardens. Then, onto Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre for two stunning sights at one stop: you can enter straight into the Louvre from the subway station, or exit above ground to visit the oh-so photogenic Palais Royal where you can also enjoy a quick coffee from Kitsuné or sip an espresso and stay awhile on the terrace of the stylish Le Nemours café.
Continuing onward on Metro Line 1, you arrive at the busy, super-central area around Paris’s city hall, l’Hôtel de Ville, with the Centre Pompidou and BHV department store nearby; then onto Saint Paul, the stop for the Marais quarter.
At Bastille the metro crosses the canal briefly in daylight, and the station is a good place to learn more about the old Bastille with some remains of the fortress on display, to visit Paris’s modern opera house, or to stop at one of the neighborhood’s many bars and restaurants.
Little known is Nation, with its rather amazing Colonnes de la Barrière du Trône towering on either side of Cours de Vincennes, marking the site of a former city wall.
Then, finally, you reach the end of the line and emerge from the metro station to discover the Château de Vincennes and the surrounding woods, called the Bois de Vincennes. Between the medieval fortress and the huge expanse of forest and parkland, it feels about a million miles away from the bustling city.
Urbansider Tip: Line 1 is driverless, and if you are traveling with kids, make sure you get into the first train, as there are displays giving you facts and figures about the metro, but also you can pretend to drive the train and get great views of the stations ahead.