Paris Metro Map


As a result of the publicity generated by my London Tubemap, I was invited to enter a competition to redesign the Paris Metro map.


The current official version of the Metro map is a good example of applying a design system without considering if it is appropriate. The success and longevity of Harry Beck’s London Underground map has resulted in it becoming the default model for many of the world’s transit system maps. In particular, the use of vertical, horizontal, and 45º lines has become a standard for this type of information graphic.


Unfortunately, this does not fit well with the geography of Paris resulting in a disjointed, busy map with lines making for more changes of direction than they need to. This last point is especially relevant as it makes navigating the map and route planning more difficult. In 1951 Beck himself submitted a version of the Paris map employing the same principles he used for London. It was rejected mainly because of the liberties it took with the geography of the French capital.


My approach to redesigning the map was the same as it was for London, to create a diagrammatic map that is easy to follow and reflects the geography of the city at street level. In some ways this is more important for Paris as many of the lines and stations follow the road system and the river Seine describes a distinctive, twisting route through the city. Another important factor is the complexity of the main interchanges incorporating many lines and linked stations.


Having established an overall pattern for the system, I sketched each of the main focal points to establish how the lines run through them. Once I’d worked these out, I ‘grew’ the map working out from these points.


Although my map eventually finished sixth in a public vote on Facebook, I believe this version is much clearer and easier to use that the official one. So far, it has been used in the Analogue Guide to Paris, and one Parisian was so taken by it, he used it in his kitchen!









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London Tubemap