The Baroque architecture, gilded sculptures, classical paintings, ornate chandeliers, parquet floors, leather chairs, gold coat racks and railings. Discover what it’s like to dine during the heyday of train travel in Belle Epoque Paris at lavish Le Train Bleu restaurant at Gare de Lyon.
The restaurant was built in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition and was originally called buffet station. Inaugurated by then French Prime Minister Emile Loubet, it wasn’t open until a year later to serve travelers arriving in Paris by train and introduce them to a gourmet experience in a luxury setting that Paris was, and is, known for.
The restaurant was built by famous architect Marius Toudoire, who was commissioned by railway company Paris-Lyon-Mediterranean that ran train services from Paris to the Cote d’Azure. In 1963, the buffet station became Le Train Bleu, which means the blue train, as a tribute to the Paris-Ventimille train line that ran along the French Riviera.
The paintings in the restaurant depict scenes from that era, including destinations the train line served and famous people like actress Sarah Bernhardt and writer Edmund Rostand. In 1972, the restaurant was listed as a historical monument. Luminaries like Coco Chanel, Salvador Dali, and Brigitte Bardot were spotted dining there.
Once stepping inside, you’re be reminded of the bygone era of luxurious train travel at the end of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Back then, travel took longer, so services were designed to help travelers pass their time and enjoy themselves.
I’m a history buff who loves train travel and beautiful architectural details, so this restaurant is up my alley. Paris is full of beautiful places, but this restaurant is so unique because of its location and history. Gastronomically speaking, however, there is room for improvement although the food was beautifully presented.
All in all, we enjoyed our experience and would go back, especially if we’re taking a train from Gare de Lyon!