Pelleport ligne 3bis, XXe arrondissement
Trafic annuel entrant par station: 361,581 The 2nd least used Métro station in Paris
Pelleport and Pré St-Gervais usually jockey for penultimate position in the Parisian Least Used stakes, and Pelleport currently holds the title by a margin of just 6000 passengers. Alighting from the train it looks normal enough, a very typical pair of facing platforms within an elliptical tiled tunnel. Above ground it looks normal enough too, a very typical Parisian road junction in the eastern suburbs. The reason for such low footfall is the railway itself, specifically line 3bis - the runtiest Métro line of them all. Originally it was a branch of line 3, but got disconnected in 1971 to streamline services on the busier arm to Gallieni. Line 3bis therefore serves just four stations, nowhere anybody who isn't local wants to go, and Pelleport is one of the two in the middle.
The platforms are generally deserted, as you can see, partly because of location but also because trains are unnecessarily frequent. Tiles are white. Seats are yellow. A gallery of oversized gilt-framed posters lines the walls. This is a deep level station, indeed 3bis is a deep level line, so Pelleport's lifts are very necessary. On this occasion I decided to ignore them and take the stairs, there being no sign at the bottom warning that this wasn't a good idea. It proved not to be a good idea, as the staircase turned and turned and turned until eventually I'd climbed 98 steps. Adverts on the walls suggest people must come this way, probably downwards at the height of the rush hour, but it was a relief to finally reach the surface.
Above ground Pelleport has a very dinky entrance, almost chalet-like in construction, designed by Charles Plumet using reinforced concrete and ciment de Grenoble. The lift doors open directly onto the pavement, with egress from the stairs on one side and a hideyhole for selling tickets on the other. A high roof is required to conceal the lift machinery, decorated with ornate ceramics plus the word Metropolitan in smart lettering across the middle. Peer closer and the words Rue Pelleport appear in mosaic on the edge of the overhang, which would have been what counted as a station nameplate in 1921. Below that on the main wall are three similarly original signs... ← Billets ←, Ascenseurs and Escalier ...for reasons previously explained.
The station entrance pokes up at the intersection of Avenue Gambetta and Rue Pelleport, less than a kilometre from the edge of the city, on the same block as an oversized hospital. Other corners are taken by the obligatory bistro, an awninged cafe, a run-of-the-mill pharmacy and a tempting boulanger/pattisier/traiteur. No tourist is going to stumble their way out here, ensuring these remain genuine outlets for the immediate populace, along with further independent retailers tucked away on bifurcating sidestreets. Seven-storey apartment blocks shield the spring sun. Coffee and pastries are taken at outside tables. Traffic slowly streams. And a better station on a better-connected line is only 300 metres down the street, so why start your journey here?