Lunch on the Train

Recently I was in London catching up with an an old Australian friend over dinner when I mentioned I would soon be in Paris.

“Oh you must dine at the Le Train Bleu,” he said flicking through his mobile phone to show me images from when he treated his mother to lunch there.

Having been to the Gare de Lyon numerous times I was a little surprised to learn of Le Train Bleu’s existence. Why hadn’t I ever heard of it before? But I dutifully put it on the list of “things to do in Paris.

The Gare de Lyon, Paris

The Gare de Lyon, Paris

A Hidden Gem

The Gare de Lyon in Paris seems an unlikely place for the location of a rare dining experience, and from the outside, Le Train Bleu reveals little of its opulent and somewhat overwhelming interior.

The restaurant's blue neon sign gives few clues about what lies beyond the doors.

The restaurant’s blue neon sign gives few clues about what lies beyond the doors.

An Opulent Experience

However, I defy anybody to walk inside for the first time and not be jaw-droppingly overawed by the opulent interior…yes for many it may be too much, but this is the Paris of La Belle Epoque: a time which brought the world the Eiffel Tower and The Grand Palais, a time which popularised venues like the Moulin Rouge and the Folies Bergère, a time when subtlety and understatement were not on the menu. Dining here is like thrusting yourself into a time machine that whisks you back to the early 20th century.  It wouldn’t have surprised me if Hercule Poirot had popped up at the next table.

Dining in the sumptuous restaurant of Le Train Bleu is an experience that you're unlikely to forget

Dining in the sumptuous restaurant of Le Train Bleu is an experience that you’re unlikely to forget

The History of Le Train Bleu

Opened in 1901 Le Train Bleu was originally known as “La Buffet de la Gare de Lyon”. Its walls and ceilings, painted by prominent artists of the period, feature paintings that depicted the events of the time and the beautiful destinations accessible by the rail network.

Large chandeliers hang from the painted and gilded ceiling

Large chandeliers hang from the painted and gilded ceiling

The paintings on the ceilings show images of some of the destinations you could reach by train from the Gare de Lyon

The paintings on the ceilings show images of some of the destinations you could reach by train from the Gare de Lyon

I know I enjoyed the food, but to be honest I don’t really remember much about it. To me the food faded into insignificance next to the sumptuous experience of just sitting there in the large dining room soaking up the surroundings. Definitely an experience I’d recommend although it’s not a cheap restaurant, but well worth it, in my opinion.

The sumptuous interior of Le Train Bleu

The sumptuous interior of Le Train Bleu

For further details and bookings (recommended) here’s the official website: http://www.le-train-bleu.com/uk/index.php

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