Paris - Ile De France Section
Le Train Bleu - restaurant - Gare de Lyon
Le Train Bleu - Listed Historical Monument
Le Train Bleu stands out from the other Parisian restaurants for two reasons.
Firstly, its unusual location, in Gare de Lyon.
It was indeed the railway station’s original restaurant or Buffet de la Gare de Lyon.
The restaurant was renamed Le Train Bleu in 1963 in order to commemorate the opening of the prestigious Paris-Ventimiglia service.
The second reason is that Le Train Bleu boasts a lavish decoration, worthy of the most prestigious Parisian palaces.
It was therefore listed Historical Monument in 1972!
Buffet de la Gare de Lyon built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900
The Gare de Lyon was the Paris terminus of the French railway Company PML - Compagnie des chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée or Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée, which was founded in 1882.
The PLM built the Buffet de la Gare de Lyon on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1900.
At the turn of the 20th century, traveling by train was still reserved to the elite or at least to the wealthy.
Electricity was in its infancy.
It was still the era of the wonderful steam locomotives!
People traveled in style.
Each detail was therefore focused on luxury, elegance and comfort, because journeys took longer.
50 million visitors flocked to Paris between 15 April and 12 November 1900 in order to attend the Universal Exhibition.
Many arrived by train and obviously needed a place to eat.
The Buffet de la Gare de Lyon had to be just as lavish as possible in order to make a lasting impact on provincial and foreign visitors upon their arrival in Paris!
It had to embody the affluent, artistic and innovative France of the Belle Epoque!
The President of the Republic Emile Loubet inaugurated the establishment on April 7, 1901.
The railway line, interrupted during WWI, was returned to service in 1920.
The old wooden sleepers were replaced in 1922 by metal carriages painted blue and gold.
The luxurious train became immediately known as Train Bleu, a name that became official in 1947.
Le Train Bleu, a magnificent Belle Epoque restaurant
The Buffet de la Gare de Lyon was renamed Le Train Bleu in 1963 and is a perfect illustration of the lavish style of the 1900s.
Art evolved dramatically between 1871 and 1914, especially from 1880 and 1910 when Art Nouveau engulfed all the new currents inspired from Baroque, oriental and classical influences.
Baroque decoration is all about theatrical effect and splendour; it is created in order to impress!
And this is what you'll find at Le Train Bleu:
Columns, pilasters, ceilings and walls adorned with a wealth of stucco, sculptures, paintings, portraits, trophies, floral decorations, volutes, foliage, mouldings, carvings, deep reds and blues and gilding!
And a lot of gilding!
The PLM Cie indeed commissioned the most prestigious painters of the era with the decoration of the restaurant.
Ceilings and walls were adorned with paintings representing 41 towns and various landscapes traversed by the railway line between Paris, Lyon and Marseille.
Flameng, Debuffe and Saint-Pierre painted the three ceilings of Le Train Bleu's main dining room with scenes representing these prestigious cities.
Maignan painted the Théâtre d’Orange and Montenard the cities of Villefranche and Monaco on the walls.
The room is also decorated with portraits of famous personalities of the era.
Among these were the Chairman and General Manager of the PLM company, the writer Edmond Rostand and the actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Réjane who even had a menu named after her!
Gervex painted the ceiling of the Salle Dorée with a scene depicting the famous Bataille des Fleurs (Battle of Flowers) in Nice.
Olive painted the murals depicting the cities of Marseille and Saint-Honorat.
Burnant painted the Mont Blanc and the Panorama des Alpes Bernoises (Bernese Alps).
These wonderful paintings and lavish decoration transform the dining rooms in a miniature palace.
Le Train Bleu has retained its old-fashioned charm:
Polished wooden floors, tables dressed with white tablecloths, crockery bearing the arms of the PLM, comfortable leather chairs and traditional Parisian waiters dressed in black jacket and white shirt...
The atmosphere is magic, the food excellent and the staff attentive and friendly.
No wonder the restaurant always attracted the rich and famous, such as Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali who were regular customers.
Le Train Bleu strikes by its timeless beauty and elegance!
Directions: 12th District - Place Louis Armand - Gare de Lyon
Metro: Gare de Lyon on Line 1 and on RER A
Coordinates Le Train Bleu: Lat 48.845111 - Long 2.373551