Anecdotally, I have felt since moving to Paris that one is never, ever too far from a Métro station. This is in contrast with Chicago, where one can be literally over a mile from an El stop. But I had not, until now, measured it out. Similarly, last year, a friend, who was living in the 18th, asserted that where he was living was the farthest one could live within Paris from a Métro station. I wondered if he was right, and, if not, where one would actually live to earn that distinction.
Enter Quantum GIS. Not having an ArcGIS license last year, I decided to try and use FOSS tools to answer these questions, but I couldn’t get the software to play nice.1 One more year has elapsed without an ArcGIS license, but in the meantime I have learned to control qGIS a bit better. So despite the fact that this question is over a year old, it’s only recently that I’ve been able to return to it.
First, the data. It comes from the nightly collection of OSM data available for download at Geofabrik. I then added the Métro stations by hand. I only added stations within Paris, though I included a few just outside the city if I thought they might affect the results. For the purposes of this map, the projection is the NTF (Paris) / Lambert zone I.
Second, the buffering. The lightest buffer is 250m. The middle buffer is 500m. The dark buffer is 700m. In other words, everything that is white and within the Périphérique (vaguely visible as the dark highway in the map surrounding the subway stations) is more than 700m from a Métro station.
Yet it’s interesting to look at those white sections in greater detail: in the southern part of the city, those points are all served by the T3 tram. So if I had included it (I didn’t since you can’t transfer for free with a t+ ticket between the Métro/RER and the tram), they would stop being white. Furthermore, some of that white space is covered by sports fields and cemeteries. The tiny white triangle on the south side with the RER B rail running right through, however, is part of my daily commute. It is right by the huge Sainte-Anne Hospital. The white square on the eastern edge of the city is right by the Père-Lachaise Cemetery. I’ve been around there before, and, well, let’s just say that I quickly understood that I had to take a bus to get home. The wedge in the north, where the rails from Gare de l’Est start bending eastward, features industrial railyard-type stuff. Like much of the edge of the city on the north and south, it is decidedly not residential.
So basically, one can assert with confidence that there’s nearly no chance that one lives more than 700m from a Métro stop in Paris. If one lives in an Arrondissement that is only one digit, there is nearly no chance that one lives more than 500m from a Métro stop. In fact, the only places in the first 10 Arrondissements that are more than 500m from a Métro stop are: right in the middle of Champ de Mars, in the Seine near Quai d’Orsay, the area surrounding the Église du Val-de-Grâce, and the block between the canal and the Hôpital Saint-Louis.
The Métro is everywhere, Paris is ridiculously well-covered, and I’m glad I’m finally figuring out qGIS.
Next up: Vélib’? Maybe. Not really. Actually really.
- Specifically, I was having lots of trouble getting the data to project correctly. I still don’t have as good a grasp of projection as I do in ArcGIS, but at least I seem capable of reprojecting data. [↩]