The Chairfather: Père Lachaise Part III

    Js headshot 180x180
    26 Jul 2018
    Clock 45min      Length1mi
    5 ratings


    Pay wave

    After passing ave Transversale 2 look on your right for a green bench.


    Just after it is an opening. In-between Vermond on the right and Bouville on the left.

    Make a right on the little dirt path. The 6th tomb on the right is our next host.


    You probably have Fulgence Bienvenüe to thank for getting you here today. He's the father of the Parisian 'Métropolitain' and the Montparnasse station bears his name.

    Paris was playing catch-up to London, which had pioneered underground rail in 1863. They needed a determined builder to lead the project, and Bienvenüe was chosen, having already engineered marvels in the mountains, and showing dedication by losing his left arm to a rail accident.

    The first line, today's ligne 1, ran from Porte Maillot to the Porte de Vincennes, and opened in Summer 1900, just in time for the World's Fair [Universal Exhibition]. Lines 2, 3 and 4 quickly followed with 50km of new track laid. The first 10 lines were designed by Bienvenüe, who personally supervised their construction.

    His structure was built to last, with forward-thinking excavation of grand arches above tracks, compared to London's tiny tunnels. These prevented obsolescence, while increasing safety and comfort. Art nouveau entrances by Hector Guimard were commissioned to beautify this modern and populist transportation method. Distinctive, even underground, you know you're in Paris.

    Today, there isn't a single spot in Paris more than 300m from a Métro station, making it the number one way for Parisians to get around.

    As if the Métro wasn't enough, he's also credited with inventing the baguette. His tunnel excavators kept stabbing themselves in the dark with the knives they would take underground to cut bread for lunch. Bienvenüe wanted something they could easily tear apart with their hands.

    Make sure to take all belongings with you as you exit with Bienvenüe on your right and follow the dirt path to the next cobblestone road, which is Avenue des Thuyas.

    Next stop: litterature.

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