The Petite Ceinture (literally ‘small belt’ but better translated as ‘Inner Circle’) is a circuar railway line in Paris. It was built in stages from 1852 to 1857 and provided a connection between the mainline railway termini. The city authorities also viewed the line as important to link defences around the city walls and help with the movement of troops and supplies. It was similar in many ways to London’s Circle Line except the Petite Ceinture is essentially a surface line.
Initially freight only, the passenger service commenced in 1862. Traffic substantially declined after the opening and development of the Paris Metro in 1900 and passenger traffic ceased in 1934. Some sections of the route remained in use for freight until the 1980s. Most of the route was in deep cuttings.
The line still largely exists although some has been re-used by the RER. The remains of eight tunnels on the route are still in place. The map pin is placed between two of the longest extant tunnels - around a kilometre each. Some of the route has been turned into public footpaths and parks and other sections are officially off-limits but still heavily used by locals. One or two stations have also found re-use as cafes and similar.
For many years one of the tunnels provided a convenient access point into the GRS (Grand Reseau Sud or ‘catacombs’). Sub Brit members explored pert of the route in May 2008, emerging in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.