Parisian panache: six of the most spectacular Paris Métro stations

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Grand designs will feature in a major expansion of the Paris Métro, but there is plenty of theatricality, beauty and swagger on show at existing stations

One aspect of the Paris Métro is minimalism. Most stations are simply white subterranean vaults with no surface building to sully the beauty of the streets. Sometimes, a station entrance is indicated by art nouveau iron flowers of no known genus (except possibly triffid), and these – the creations of Hector Guimard in the early 1900s – signify the flamboyance that coexists with the minimalism.

The sheer theatricality of some stations reflects a society that accords engineers a high status (the UK has no real equivalent of the elite engineering school École Polytechnique) and encourages them to make bold statements. This kind of swagger is evident in the Eiffel Tower and the Pompidou Centre. It will also be manifest in the huge new stations of the Grand Paris Express scheme which, between now and 2030, will double Métro mileage. But here are some fine examples on the existing network.

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