If you don’t know about it already, Le Train Bleu restaurant is the biggest surprise to be found at Paris’s Gare de Lyon – perhaps at any station in Paris.
It is ornate, gorgeous – a veritable gallery of paintings, sculptures and other works of art. It has been named the finest restaurant in the railway sector as well as the best restaurant in the world of transport.
But to see is to believe, and some photos here are worth much more than the prescribed 1,000 words each.
The first two photos below show the view looking down the length of the two main dining rooms – the ceilings, chandeliers, paintings… up and down and from side to side. This is the view that greets you when you walk in and stand in the middle of the restaurant, usually gazing around slack-jawed with eyes popping.
BACKGROUND and history
The "Buffet de la Gare de Lyon,” as it was originally named, was created for the Exposition Universelle in 1900. With its original wood, leather and brass furniture and furnishings, sculptures, carvings, the 41 huge murals and ceiling paintings representing the destinations covered by the PLM (Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée railroad company which built the restaurant), and the events of the time, the interior could easily stand as a museum of the early 1900s. Many of the paintings on the walls and ceilings were among the best being created by the most fashionable painters of the day, and are therefore a great representation of French painting around the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th.
This gallery of photos will give you an idea of the variety of artwork and design detail to be found in Le Train Bleu.
The Buffet de la Gare de Lyon was renamed “Le Train Bleu” in 1963 after the famous, luxury French express train, the Calais-Mediterranée Express which had been nicknamed Le Train Bleu due to its dark blue sleeping cars. The Blue Train was the second luxury train created by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL), the first being the famous Orient Express. Many famous 20th Century personalities – Brigitte Bardot, Coco Chanel, Jean Cocteau, Colette, Salvador Dalí, Jean Gabin, François Mitterand and many others frequented the restaurant and added to its fame.
This is the main entrance from the station platform.
And a view of the inside looking out towards the station.
The 250-place restaurant, under Chef Jean Pierre Hocquet with his team of 50, serves traditional gourmet French food, accompanied by excellent wines from a prestigious wine cellar.
THE TRAIN BLEU TODAY
The Train Bleu was restored and renovated in 2014. Some of the original furnishings were lost but all the paintings and sculptures were cleaned, the kitchen was fully modernized, the interior was redecorated, the gilt regilded and a number of other modifications, changes, upgrades and improvements carried out.
Today Le Train Bleu is a national historic monument and considered one of the best preserved venues remaining from Paris in the 1900s.
Well, there you have it: Le Train Bleu. One of the best preserved examples of Paris in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the best restaurant in the world of rail travel and transport in general. Visiting and eating at Le Train Bleu is an experience you are not likely to forget.
Some of the images are available as prints and canvases in our shop. But, as usual, if you find an image you would like a print or canvas of but do not see it listed in the shop, just contact us with the details of what you would like.
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Georgianna and David