Montmartre funicular

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Template:Use dmy dates Template:Infobox rail line The Montmartre funicular is an automatic funicular railway serving the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris, in the Eighteenth arrondissement. It is operated by the RATP, the Paris transport authority. It was opened on 13 July 1900 and was entirely rebuilt in 1935 and again in 1991.

The funicular carries passengers between the foot of the Template:Lang (outlier) of Montmartre and its summit, near the foot of the Sacré-Cœur basilica. It provides an alternative to the multiple stairways of more than 300 steps that lead to the top of the Butte Montmartre. At Template:Convert long, the funicular climbs and drops the Template:Convert in under a minute and a half. It carries two million passengers a year.


File:Funiculaire de montmartre.jpg
One of the cabins taken from the level of its wheels

The funicular is open every day from 6 am until 12.45 am, transporting 6,000 people a day, or around 2 million a year, mostly tourists and pilgrims en route to the Sacré-Cœur, and also Parisians and those who love the ambience of the Place du Tertre.

The lower station was built between the Template:Lang and the Template:Lang, and the upper one on the Template:Lang. The funicular runs alongside the Rue Foyatier, a wide 220-step staircase.

Current funicular

Constructed by Schindler Group, the new funicular with electrical traction entered service on 1 June 1991. It has two independent cabins with sixty places each. Its capacity is 2,000 passengers per hour in each direction. A trip in either direction, which covers a vertical distance of Template:Convert over a track distance of Template:Convert, takes less than 90 seconds. The funicular is double track at standard gauge of Template:RailGauge and the gradient is as high as 35.2% (a little steeper than 1:3).

The technology of the funicular is derived from that of standard elevators, which allows each car to function independently, with its own hoist and cables. This allows one car to remain in service if the other must be taken out of service for maintenance. At busy times, both cabins can ascend at the same time (usually, more passengers use the funicular to ascend than to descend).<ref name="Ayers">Template:Cite book</ref>

The see-through stations were designed by the architect François Deslaugiers, while the new cabins with their distinctive glass sections were by the industrial designer Roger Tallon, who also designed the carriages of the TGV Atlantique. The cabin roofs are partly glazed, which allows a view while in transit of the Montmartre Basilica or the panorama over Paris.<ref name="Ayers"/>


File:PARIS - Le funiculaire du Sacré-Coeur.jpg
The first, water-driven Montmartre funicular

The Paris city government voted to construct the Montmartre funicular in 1891. Initially, operation of the funicular was subcontracted to Decauville through a concession that ended in 1931.<ref name="Mellot">Template:Cite book</ref> Thereafter, the Société des transports en commun de la région parisienne (STCRP) took control, and this was nationalized together with the Template:Lang (CMP) to form the Template:Lang (RATP), which continues to operate the funicular today.

The original funicular was water-powered, using a system of cisterns of Template:Convert each that were filled or emptied to move the cars and to compensate for passenger load. In 1935, the system was converted to electricity. The funicular was completely rebuilt by the RATP in 1990–1991.

The funicular was shut down after a minor accident during tests by the RATP in December 2006. It reopened in July 2007.


  • 5 June 1891: Decision to create a funicular at Montmartre
  • 12 or 13 July 1900: Inauguration of the first water-driven funicular
  • 1 November 1931: Closure of the water-driven funicular
  • 2 February 1935: Opening of the electric funicular
  • 1 October 1990: Closure of the funicular for the second renovation
  • 5 October 1991: Opening of the modern funicular
  • 7 December 2006: Accident during a brake load test, without passengers


The construction of the Montmartre funicular was decided upon by the Paris municipal council in 1891. It was built to serve the Sacré-Cœur Basilica at the summit of the outlier of Montmartre and was inaugurated on 5 June 1891. If built according to the plan of the project selected initially the funicular would have used electrical traction and had a much longer route, serving six stations as well as two termini. It ended up being far more modest with only two terminal stations, and using water-filled counterweights for motion.

The funicular entered service on 12 or 13 July (sources vary), and its operation was handed over to the Decauville company with a contract lasting until 1931. However, lacking the necessary authorisation from the Paris Prefecture of Police to run the service, the company had to close the funicular from 24 November 1900 until 22 May 1901.

The funicular was of double track at standard gauge, using the Strub rack system for braking. The rails were supported by sleepers made of structural steel, supported on concrete pedestals.Template:Sfn

The system was powered by two sealed water tanks with a capacity of Template:Convert placed underneath the floor of each cabin. The cabin's tank was refilled at the upper station which allowed its descent under gravity with the combined weight of the passengers and the water, enabling the other carriage to ascend. A steam engine situated at the lower station worked the filling pumps at the upper station. The cabins had a capacity of forty-eight passengers in four closed compartments arranged like a staircase; the two end platforms were reserved for the driver and brakeman. These were retained for a brake system established on the rack railway. This system transported a million passengers a year for some thirty years.

First renovation, 1931

When the contract expired, the Mayor of Paris and the Seine Department charged the Template:Lang (STCRP) with running the service and modernising the infrustructure. The rack system was deemed too dangerous and so the initial system was shut down; operations ceased on 1 November 1931. The water-driven system was replaced by two electrically driven cabins and reopened on 2 February 1935 after an interruption of more than three years. Traction was provided by a winch driven by a Template:Convert electric motor, allowing a cabin holding fifty people to make the journey in 70 seconds at a speed of Template:Convert. The cabins were no longer arranged like a staircase but composed of a single compartment with a horizontal floor.

By 1955, the line was in service from 7 am until 9 pm in winter and until 11 pm in summer, entry to the station being made by cancelling a bus ticket.Template:Sfn In 1962, the funicular transported 1,600,000 passengers and operations were suspended for some weeks for a new renovation. The line was opened in the presence of "Template:Lang" (Parisian illustrators) and Émile Kérembrun, the President of the Template:Lang, a philanthropic society.Template:Sfn

Second renovation, 1991

After fifty-five years of operation, transporting two million passengers annually, the funicular was in need of renovation. A novel idea was proposed by the RATP and the Mairie de Paris: lengthen the line with a tunnel to the Anvers métro station. The idea was abandoned due to its high cost.

The RATP entirely rebuilt the funicular in 1990–1991 on the same design. Operations ceased on 1 October 1991, being substituted with a minibus service, the "Montmartrobus", between the Place Pigalle and the top of the Template:Lang, until the new funicular entered service on 5 October 1991. The old stations were demolished and rebuilt to the designs of the architect François Deslaugiers, being largely of glass and transparent. The works were undertaken by Schindler Group, a lift manufacturer, and cost 43.1 million francs.Template:Sfn

File:Paris Montmartre Cable-Car.JPG
Track and cabins after the second renovation

Since its latest renovation, the funicular uses angled lift technology with electrical traction and is no longer a funicular in the proper sense: it no longer functions with the traditional alternative movement of funiculars (where the descending cabin acts as a counterweight to the ascending one). The machinery resides in the higher station; it is composed of two totally independent AKROS winches powered by Template:Convert motors. The cabins each weigh Template:Convert unladen, Template:Convert when full. They have a service brake and an emergency brake. The carriages and chassis were made by Skirail, and the electrics by Poma.

Operation is entirely automatic: The presence and number of passengers are detected by a system combining electronic balance scales mounted in the cabin floor, and radar in the stations. A computer determines the cabin's departure, indicated with a display board in the cabin. According to the amount of passenger traffic, it chooses between the two possible operating speeds, Template:Convert or Template:Convert. For safety, the platform edge doors open only when a cabin is present, as on the Paris Métro Line 14 and some stations on London's Jubilee Line.Template:Sfn

On 7 December 2006 at 5.50 pm, a cabin crashed down the slope during a brake system test by the RATP. The terminal of the lifting cable broke. The service was suspended, adding to the problems of the residents and traders on the Template:Lang, the first having to make do with a less-frequent replacement bus service, the second seeing their trading levels fall (20–30% lower than for December 2006Template:Sic) from having fewer tourists. One of the two cabins was put back in service on 30 June 2007, the other on 2 August 2008.


The funicular is considered to be part of the Paris Métro network, and so has similar pricing. The two stations each have turnstiles which can read magnetic tickets and Navigo passes. They thus allow access via all RATP payment methods, including the single-journey Ticket "t", Paris Visite combination transport/museum pass and other RATP weekly and monthly passes.

There is no direct transport interchange, except with the "Montmartrobus" which has a stop in the Rue du Cardinal-Dubois in front of the upper station and offers a free interchange. Nevertheless, two métro stations are within easy walking distance of the lower station: Anvers on Line 2 about Template:Convert to the south and Abbesses on Line 12 about Template:Convert to the west.

The funicular is considered a special line not coming under the Ticket T+ fare rules for interchanges; a passenger coming from the Métro with an already-cancelled Ticket T+ must use a second ticket for the funicular, and vice versa.

The Template:Lang ("Allocation codes") of the lower and upper stations are respectively 31-02 and 31-03. Code 31 corresponds to the Quartier Pigalle, or FUNB and FUNH.


The RATP finances the line's operation (maintenance, infrastructure and cost of personnel). Fares are set by political decisions which do not cover the true cost of transportation. The loss is made good by the controlling authority, the Template:Lang (STIF), which since 2005 has been under the control of the Template:Lang ("Île-de-France Regional Council") and composed of local representatives. It defines the general conditions of operation and the duration and frequency of services. Losses are made good by an annual block grant to regional transport operators funded by the Template:Lang ("Transport payment"), a tax raised on companies with more than nine employees. Public bodies also contribute.


Given the interest in the technical solution provided by the funicular for public passenger transport over relatively short and extremely steep routes, studies have called for the RATP to build similar systems, notably at Issy-les-Moulineaux, in the renovation project of the Fort d'Issy quarter, and to link the Meudon-sur-Seine station on Paris Tramway Line 2 with the Gare de Bellevue, which would recreate the old Bellevue funicular at Meudon, demolished in 1934.

Popular culture

The funicular is an essential element in Paris life, and thus appears in many films and television series having Montmartre as a theme. One of the most famous is Template:Lang (1990), starring Thierry Lhermitte and Philippe Noiret,<ref name="Lemonier">Template:Cite book</ref> and it also appears in Template:Lang (1997), Template:Lang (2006) and Louise (take 2) (1998).<ref name="Lemonier" />

In the first pilot episode of the police series Template:Lang, a chase takes place on the Rue Foyatier steps alongside the funicular; the character played by Jean-Pierre Castaldi runs up it to catch the crooks. Similarly in the film Template:Lang (2009), Michel Fernandez (Thierry Frémont) flees by the stairs, chased by Nora Chahyd (Rachida Brakni) who takes the funicular.

Jean-Pierre Melville opened his film Template:Lang (1956) with a tracking shot around the Montmartre quarter where the film is set, and voiceover then says "Template:Lang" ("It is at one and the same time heaven ... and ... hell").

The funicular figures in an eponymous work by Jean Marchand (1883–1940), on view at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. It appears in literature in a short story by Boileau-Narcejac titled Template:Lang ("The enigma of the funicular"), published in 1971 in the review Template:Lang, and also in the works of Jacques Charpentreau who, in a poem entitled Template:Lang, compares the cabins to two contrary brothers: Template:Lang ("When one flies into the air, the other falls to the ground/ And la, la la").

It appears in the video game Midnight Club 2 (2003).

In October 2006, at the request of the website Template:Lang for its "Template:Lang" ("concerts to download"), the singer Cali made an appearance in one of the funicular's cabins surrounded by passengers, singing her song Template:Lang ("The end of the world in ten minutes") from the album Template:Lang as it ascended.

The funicular appears, next to the Sacré-Cœur, in many miniature parks, such as France Miniature at Élancourt (where it was added twice) and Mini-Europe at Brussels.

See also

Template:Commons category

  • Funicular
  • Inclined railway
  • List of Paris metro stations
  • Montmartre
  • RATP

See also

  • List of funicular railways




External links

Template:Paris Transport NetworkTemplate:France Metro Tramway Template:Coord

Template:Link GA