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Paris - Ile De France

Parmentier Metro station and the history of the potato

This page was updated on: Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at: 12:57 pm

Parmentier Metro station’s decorative theme: the potato

Yes, you read well, Parmentier Metro station's decor is dedicated to the potato!

The station indeed exits on Avenue Parmentier, a street named after Antoine Parmentier who introduced the potato culture in France in the 18th century.

The army pharmacist discovered the tuber when he was a prisoner of the Prussians during the Seven Years' War, as potatoes were on the prisoners' daily 'menu'!

Green trellises, inspired by the mesh of the potato fillet, the iconic sac à papates of yesteryear, cover the station’s vaulted ceiling and walls.

Each platform has glass cabinets that showcase photos and documents that relate the discovery of the potato by the Spanish conquistadores in Peru.

Information boards, placed on the walls, show the evolution of the tuber, the many varieties and their uses (fries, mash etc...)

There is also a replica of the statue of Antoine Parmentier by Albert Roze, whose original is in Montdidier, Parmentier’s birthplace.

Parmentier introduced the potato in France

Back to Parmentier who introduced potato crops in 1787, two years before the French Revolution.

This took place in the Plaine des Sablons (Neuilly-sur-Seine), a then deserted and sandy area which Marie-Antoinette converted into a horse-racing field in 1776.

Parmentier found it a perfect spot for its size and quality of its soil.

France had just experienced consecutive harsh winters that destroyed most of the wheat crops, the staple food of the time. This led to recurrent famines and social unrest as you can imagine!

Parmentier knew that potatoes were resilient to cold, but also very nourishing. They had to be the solution to the food crisis.

Louis XVI supported the scientist's initiative (the king really loved his subjects). He therefore asked his cooks to serve a dish of potato everyday, which his courtiers hastened to imitate.

However, the common people were suspicious as they considered potatoes, although newly imported, animal food unfit for human consumption!

But Parmentier was smart! He used a subterfuge to stir their desire and make them believe that potatoes were valuable. He indeed had the potato fields guarded at night, but instructed the guards to turn a blind eye to the thieves who ventured at night to steal plants.

It worked beyond hope! Indeed, most Parisians soon grew potatoes in their gardens, then the whole country!

Antoine Parmentier’s name has since been attached to many potato-based dishes. The most popular is the Hachis Parmentier, quite similar to the shepherd's pie, which consists of pre-cooked mince meat added to mashed potatoes.

Sites of interest nearby Parmentier Metro station?

The station boasts an original Art Nouveau entrance-exit designed by Guimard at the intersection of Avenue Parmentier and Avenue de la République.

From there, a 10mn walk will take you to Place de la République and Cimetière du Père Lachaise

Parmentier is on Ligne 3. This line was opened in 1904 and connects the station Galliéni in the east of Paris to Pont de Levallois-Bécon in the west.

Directions: 11th district
Coordinates: Lat 48.865444 - Long 2.374557

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