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The Orient Express train to Paris

Orient express

The Orient Express train to Paris from Venice is a fine way to travel in style says The Good Life Paris reporter Linda Matthieu…

orient express glass

When my husband suggested we celebrate my birthday with a trip on the famous Orient Express train after watching a TV special on the subject, of course I said yes. Hasn’t everyone always dreamed of boarding that famous train and riding it to somewhere gorgeous?

If you’ve ever read the mystery by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express, or seen the movie, you will have a good idea what the journey on the train is like. It’s all about luxury, fine linen and inlaid wood. Countless artists and the rich and famous have been transported across Europe on this train, traveling slowly and being indulged with extravagant service and I was going to join them…

The Orient Express started its journeys in 1883 and was the idea of Belgian entrepreneur Georges Nagelmackers. Travelling on this famous train is like a trip back in time and we joined it in Venice and returned to Paris for an overnight trip of a lifetime.

orient express staff line up

It was an extraordinary journey. We flew to Venice and spent a few days in this magical place, then took a water taxi to the train station. As we walked to our carriage, all of the employees were lined up in their uniforms to greet us and welcome us aboard. The young man who took care of our car was wearing his hat and white gloves and helped us to our room which looked just like the ones in the movie.

orient express window

As the train left Venice we were given a glass of Prosecco to celebrate and before long we were being wowed by the sight of the beautiful scenery of northern Italy. Lunch was served in the opulent restaurant car with crisp white linen, crystal and china bearing the logo of the Orient Express.  We were told that all of the staff in the kitchen, including the chef, were French. The wait staff were all Italian and the rest taking care of the rooms were a mix of nationalities. It was a wonderful meal, made even better by looking at the spectacular views as we swept along.

In the afternoon we were served tea in our room with a delicious pastry. We elected to have a late dinner since we were so full and went into the bar for drinks while waiting. There was a pianist playing jazz and by this time we were in Austria with views of the fabulous mountains.

orient express menuWith the music, a glass of champagne, the surroundings and the views it was a quite incredible experience. By dinner time we entered Switzerland and by then it was dark outside, we could make out the lake and the city lights but the dinner was so fabulous it kept us occupied the whole time!  When the chef came by our table wearing his hat I told him that it was the best lamb that I had ever had. It seemed to please him as he signed our menu and told us about an auberge he owns in Provence which, I hope, we can one day visit.

The people on the train were so friendly and the service was unbelievably fabulous – I’d do it again in a flash…

Linda Mathieu, a native Texan, lives in France with her French husband. She was a Paris Tour Guide and is the author of Secrets of a Paris Tour Guide, available at www.amazon.com.

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