La Belle Époque train travel enshrined in a 1901 must-see historic Paris restaurant~
On a 1901 April day in Paris, at the time of La Belle Époque--that post-depression, pre-war beautiful age of over-the-top luxury living, dining, and travel for the privileged few--French President Loubet officially opened the Le Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon amid flourish and fanfare. Over a century later, 500-global celebs and regular folks alike still dine at Le Train Bleu daily, to absorb its décor, savor the cuisine, and reminisce about its historic link with grand travel. Originally erected for the Universal Exhibition, the très riches eatery was classified as a historical monument in 1972 by France s Cultural Minister, André Malraux, in honor of the highsociety Blue Train. A strictly First Class overnight run from the north of France down to the French Riviera. First called the Calais-Mediterranée Express--the colloquial term le train bleu
derived from the royal blue and gold interiors and was adopted into formal use after WWII. The maiden journey on December 8, 1922 originated in Calais the ancient port overlooking the Straits of Dover where the très riches docked--having crossed the English Channel with their Louis Vuitton steamer trunks, hat boxes, ladies maids, and petitschiens in tow. The Prince of Wales, Chanel, Chaplin, Winston Churchill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Evelyn Waugh and Somerset Maugham were among those who eventually sauntered aboard at the Gare Maritime as white-gloved porters paraded behind juggling gilded-age accouterments. Champagne and bon mots flowed as the opulent land yacht rolled through the French countryside towards the Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon in Paris. There, the crème de la crème of Paris and additional coaches joined the tour that left Paris in early evening for stops in Dijon, Châlons, and Lyon as tony revelers feasted on 5-star meals then slept on finest linens in plush compartments with discrete attendants at hand to assure their every wish. By dawn, the train steamed towards Marseille with following stops along the resort route at St. Raphaël, Juan-les-Pins, Antibes, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, and Menton-the famous lemon capital of France. In the 1980s, the high-speed TGV trains cut the journey from Paris to Nice from 20-hours to five and Le Train Bleu that had also played a role in ballets, books, a French TV mystery series, and posters, became a memory enshrined at the noble restaurant in the Paris-Lyon station.
For more photos and a link to Le Bleu Train restaurant site, please see:http://www.frenchheart.com