Bir Hakeim is one of the most emblematic stations in Paris. It is synonymous with the Eiffel Tower, and the aerial metro has a great story to discover! I realized that the station’s name was after a battle in Libya during World War II. A few months after my arrival, a friend told me about it. I wasn’t aware of it before! I use line 6 now and then to pass by the Eiffel Tower on my way to Trocadero. The upper level is used by metro line 6, while the lower level is for motor vehicles, with a bicycle path in the center.
This station, located between the 7th and the 15th districts, is one of the most beautiful stations in Paris! Coming from Étoile, you reach it by crossing the famous bridge. You will enjoy a sublime view of the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, and the city.
What is Bir Hakeim?
Bir Hakeim (in Arabic بئر حكيم; literally “the well of the wise”); it is an old disused water point in the middle of the Libyan desert. Specifically south of Tobruk. The Battle of Bir Hakeim was named after a disused waterhole in the middle of the Libyan desert. From May 27 to June 11, 1942, it took place during the desert war.
French troops retreated to Bir Hakeim in the Libyan desert during the mentioned period to halt the advance of the German and Italian armies in North Africa. Under the orders of General Kœnig, the French dug shelters in the rock and surrounded themselves with minefields. They prevented their enemies from advancing. They defended their position relentlessly, allowing the British army to fall back into Egypt. This resistance allowed the British to retreat to El-Alamein in Egypt. It is where the reconquest of Libya by the Allies started in October 1942.
The station was not called Bir Hakeim. It was inaugurated in 1906, and until 1949, it was called Grenelle station. In addition, the bridge was called Pont de Passy! The current name is somewhat unexpected for a Parisian station. However, it is a tribute to the Battle of Bir Hakeim during the Second World War. For sixteen days, the 1st Free French Brigade (future 1st Free French Division ) of General Kœnig resisted the Italian and German motorized armies (the Afrika Korps). The respite thus gained by the Free French allowed the British, then in a wrong position, to fall back and then triumph at El Alamein.
This complicated victory was one of the first in North Africa. It had a considerable impact on the morale of the French to the point that several groups of maquisards then appropriated the name in tribute to the battle. Today, the station is one of the most famous stations in Paris due to its perfect location and superb view.