October 2022. As we wanted to test Trenitalia‘s Frecciarossa 1000 service from Paris to Milan, we planned a rail trip around it. From Antwerp to Paris with Thalys, the ‘Red Arrow’ to Milan and once in Italy continuing to Trieste and Bologna. The return trip took us to Basel in Switzerland to enjoy SBB‘s panoramic coach and Germany‘s Rhine route to Cologne. From there we got back to Belgium.
To take the Frecciarossa in Paris-Gare-de-Lyon, we first had to get there. Knowing our beloved mode of transport, we decided to take the 9.33 AM Thalys from Antwerp-Central to Paris-North. It was delayed for an hour. The Thalys, coming from Amsterdam Central, had been blocked between Schiphol Airport and Rotterdam Central due to another train with technical difficulties blocking the tracks.
Fortunately Le Train Blue was very accommodating changing our arrival time.
Le Train Blue
Le Train Bleu (‘The Blue Train’) is a restaurant located in the original hall of the Gare de Lyon railway station. It was designated a Monument Historique in 1972.
The restaurant was originally created for the Exposition Universelle (1900). Each ornate dining room is themed to represent cities and regions of France and they are decorated with 41 paintings by some of the most popular artists of that time.
Marius Toudoire, the famous architect behind the Gare de Lyon clock tower and façade, was entrusted with carrying out these works. The management of the railway company hoped to create an unmissable gourmet experience in a luxurious, modern and legendary setting.
The station buffet was unveiled in 1901 by the French President Emile Loubet and quickly attracted people from high society and artists.
In 1963, the Buffet de la Gare de Lyon became Le Train Bleu as a tribute to the ‘Paris – Vintimille‘ (Ventimiglia) line dating from 1868, the legendary train that served towns in the French Riviera along the Mediterranean coast.
Le Train Blue collaborates with famed chef Michel Rostang.
“Le Train Bleu and Michel Rostang share a passion for high quality ingredients and seasonal cuisine. Regional produce from south west France along the PLM (Paris-Lyon-Marseille) line takes centre stage. In the restaurant, everything has been designed to showcase the cuisine. Meat is carved and dishes are flambéed right in front of you for an absolutely unique show”, the website says.
“Le Train Bleu’s iconic recipes have been given a Rostang twist. The result? A traditional gratin dauphinois with no cheese or eggs, Rostang’s signature dish, complements the famous roast leg of lamb (carved from the trolley), not to be missed on Le Train Bleu’s menu.”
“Bresse poultry with fresh tarragon cream served with grilled basmati rice, another of Michel Rostang’s legendary specialities, also makes an appearance alongside recipes that have contributed to Le Train Bleu’s success, like the iconic rum baba or even the tartare prepared at your table.”
Lunch at Le Train Bleu
So we were there for lunch. The menu offers traditional French dishes. It fits the historic atmosphere in the dining hall. That dining hall is beautiful. It throws you back to non-existing times of spying, detectives and adventures.
Individual dishes at Le Train Bleu are pricey so it’s better to take one of the set menus. It’s far from uncommon for restaurants to nudge you towards their set menus.
We took the Menu Voyageur or The Traveller’s Menu. As we would travel two hours after arriving at Le Train Bleu, that deal suited us best. The Traveller’s Menu promises lunch or dinner in 45 minutes. We didn’t time it.
It consists of “Regional French roast leg of lamb, served at your table from the carving trolley, Michel Rostang’s potato gratin dauphinois; and vanilla millefeuille, dairy milk caramel with fleur de sel.”
Having the meat carved on a trolley and the dauphinois in a dish in front on you gives the experience something extra.
Eating at Le Train Bleu was a lovely way to start our vacation. It is also an opportunity to have some traditional French cuisine in a beautiful setting. The waiters are wearing black suits, white shirts, a bow tie and white gloves. This enhances the ‘olden days’ vibes Le Train Bleu aspires.
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5 Comments Add yours
Wow! “A lovely way to start your vacation”, looks an amazing experience…
Thank’s for share, Timothy.
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Thank you Elvira. It was indeed lovely way to share the vacation. Happy Sunday!
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Always a pleasure, Timothy.
That’s great! Happy day!
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