Metro line 3: a line and its history

Do you know the history of Paris metro line 3, which was commissioned on 19 October 1904? Unlock the full history with us!

Line 3 was designed to link all the vibrant districts of central Paris. This year, we celebrate the 120th anniversary of the opening of the line’s first stretch, which linked stations Villiers and Père Lachaise, passing through Saint-Lazare, Opéra, and République stations. Soon after, on 25 January 1905, it was extended to Gambetta. Visit our “Un jour, une station" webpage to learn more about the history of this station! Since then, the line has undergone restructuring in its eastern section, enhancing access to Paris' gates and leading to the creation of line 3 bis.

Retracing the evolution of line 3

Stretching 1.8 km to Porte de Champerret, the first extension was added to the west section of the line and included four new stations: Malesherbes, Wagram, Pereire, and Porte de Champerret. It was commissioned in two phases:

  • On 23 May 1910 to Pereire station,
  • On 15 February 1911 up to Porte de Champerret.
Photos d'archives de la ligne 3

On 27 November 1921, the second extension of the line was opened, stretching 1.5 km from Gambetta to Porte des Lilas in the northeast of the capital. Initially, the close location of this new station to Pré-Saint-Gervais on line 7 prompted consideration of a joint operation between the two lines; however, this idea was ultimately set aside in favour of more important operations. Only a shuttle service was maintained between Porte des Lilas and Pré-Saint-Gervais from 1921 to 1939, thereby becoming part of the metro system. This short autonomous line had only two stations, Pré-Saint-Gervais and Porte des Lilas.

Did you know? The new line 3 stations built during this extension are all at great depth (between 19 and 25m), and they are equipped with lifts leading directly to street level. The structures housing them were built by the architect Charles Plumet in 1922 using an Art Deco style. They are adorned with ceramics, mosaics, and decorative friezes, with signs indicating ‘Metropolitain'.

Stations structures designed by architect Charles Plumet. - RATP
Stations structures designed by architect Charles Plumet. - RATP
Stations structures designed by architect Charles Plumet. - RATP
Stations structures designed by architect Charles Plumet. - RATP

In the late 1920’s, a project to extend the metro into the nearby suburbs began. As a result, about fifteen extensions were declared public necessities, including the extension from Porte de Champerret to Pont de Levallois on line 3. A new 1.8 km section opened to the public on 24 September 1937, and three new stations were created. The new line terminus had a particularly unique configuration, as it featured three platform tracks.

Les trois voies à quai de la station Pont de Levallois

34 years later, line 3’s route was modified once again: on 2 April 1971, the line was extended by 1.37 km from Gambetta to Gallieni in Bagnolet. At the same time, on 27 March of that year, the segment of line 3 connecting Gambetta to Porte des Lilas was "disconnected”, thus becoming a separate and autonomous line, now known as line 3 bis. To discover the full story of how line 3 bis was created, please check out the specially dedicated webpage A line and its history.

Key figure:

The current length of line 3: operated from Pont de Levallois-Bécon to Gallieni, it spans 25 stations.

A line well worth visiting

Did you know? Line 3 boasts several stations with unique features.

Parmentier, the “potato station”.

As the name suggests, Parmentier station is decorated on the theme of the potato! Its framework is inspired by the mesh of a potato sack, which is an integral part of the station's cultural decor. Make your way to the platform heading towards Gallieni to see the statue of Antoine Parmentier, famed for his advocacy of the potato consumption in human diets.

La station de la pomme de terre : Parmentier

Pereire, a tribute to two brothers

It’s not just one man that the Pereire station on line 3 commemorates, but two! The brothers Isaac and Emile Pereire played a significant role in railway development under the Second Empire. Here’s the full story.

Sentier and its unique mast

Have you ever seen the big red 'M' surrounded by a blue circle, crossed by the word 'Metro' in white on a blue background, illuminated from within? This one-of-a-kind mast, first seen in the late thirties, is now only on display at the Sentier station!

Le mât de la station Sentier

To learn more about the various artistic, historical, or unusual treasures that make up line 3, check out the interactive map "Worth the visit" dedicated to line 3.

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Patrimoine Ligne 3