Recently, I was in London catching up with a friend from Australia 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 some pictures from when he treated his mother to lunch there.
Having been to the Gare de Lyon many times before, I had no idea there was a restaurant of note there. Why hadn’t I ever heard of it before? But I dutifully put it on the list of “things to do in 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. However, I defy anybody to walk inside for the first time and not be jaw-droppingly overawed by the opulent interior.
An Opulent Experience
This is the Paris of La Belle Époque: a time that brought the world the Eiffel Tower and The Grand Palais, a time that 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 contraption 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.
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.
I know I enjoyed the food, but 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.
For further details and bookings (recommended) here’s a link to the official website: Le Train Bleu