Metro line 5 : a line and its history

Do you know the history of Paris metro line 5, which was commissioned on 2 June 1906?  Unlock the full history with us!

The story of metro line 5 is complex, marked by many changes, notably during its early years of operation. The line is the result of the linking of two sections originally conceived as separate lines:

  • From Boulevard de Strasbourg (Gare de l’Est) to Pont d’Austerlitz (Quai de la Rapée);
  • From Place d’Italie to Pont d’Austerlitz (Quai de la Rapée): a section of line 2 Sud (south), integrated into line 5.


Photo d'archives travaux ligne 5

A line that has evolved greatly

It was on 2 June 1906, that line 5 was commissioned between Place d’Italie and Gare d’Orléans (currently Gare d’Austerlitz). That same year, it was extended to Place Mazas (currently Quai de la Rapée), and later to Lancry (currently Jacques Bonsergent). On 17 October 1907, the operation of line 5 fully merged with that of line 2 south, forming a single line connecting the stations from Étoile to Lancry, and later to Gare du Nord after the extension commissioned on 15 November 1907. For many years, it remained the longest line on the metro network. The segment between Place d’Italie and Nation, on the future line 6 (Nation – Étoile), was later opened in 1909.

However, changes on line 5 did not stop there, as at the end of the 1920s, an extension project to Porte de Pantin was launched. This extension was declared being of public utility in January 1935, but it was not until much later, in October 1942, that the line would serve the suburbs, following a major redesigning:

  • 6 October 1942: The section between Place d’Italie and Étoile was assigned to metro line 6, which then took its current configuration connecting stations from Nation to Étoile, via Place d’Italie. The southern terminus of line 5 then became Place d’Italie.
  • 12 October 1942: The extension of line 5 to Église de Pantin was commissioned.
Photo d'archives Place d'Italie

Following this, the line only saw one additional extension, which was commissioned on 25 April 1985, serving Bobigny, the prefecture of the Seine-Saint-Denis department. Spanning 14.6 km, it has since connected the stations from Bobigny–Pablo Picasso to Place d’Italie.

Montage photos ligne 5

Another interesting fact…in 1973 the line was equipped with a Centralised Command Post (PCC), and in 1978 with an automated piloting syste. That same year, MF67 rolling stock began to be used on the line, before being replaced by MF01 rolling stock in 2014.

Line 5 and its stations unlike any others

Several of line 5’s 22 stations possess noteworthy features!

Gare d’Austerlitz, the station on the viaduct

From line 5, the arrival at Gare d’Austerlitz station from Quai de la Rapée station is via the Austerlitz Viaduct, listed in the inventory of historical monuments in 1986. Indeed, after crossing the Seine, the metro continues its journey to the station before moving through the glass canopy located above the main line tracks. This unique configuration is made possible with the two metal viaducts upon which the tracks and platforms of the station are located.

Did you know? In Gare d’Austerlitz, on metro line 5, there is a unique decorative element that cannot be found in any other RATP station. It consists of floral ceramic motifs that adorn the columns visible on either side of the platform.

Céramique Gare d'Austerlitz ligne 5
Montage photo Gare d'Austerlitz ligne 5

1, 2,… 3 tracks at Porte de Pantin

With its three tracks enabling it to serve as an intermediate terminus for some metros, the Porte de Pantin station has a very peculiar layout. The platform towards Bobigny–Pablo Picasso is laterally placed, while the platform in the direction of Place d'Italie forms an island between two tracks. The central track is used for the storage of trains.

Photo des 3 voies de la station Porte de Pantin

Ourcq and its iconic architecture

Did you know? Ourcq is among the stations on line 5 that have retained the "Ouï Dire" architectural style. It stands out with its seats, luminous ramps, and colourful advertising frames (red for Ourcq), contrasting with the white tiling of the station, as well as with its rainbow-lit vault.

To discover all the mysteries in metro line 5 stations, consult our interactive map "Worth the detour".

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Ligne 5 Heritage