Le Train Bleu: Travel back in time

The splendid halls high above the concourse of Gare de Lyon train station only pretend to give home to a restaurant. In fact, "Le Train Bleu" is a palatial museum where they also happen to serve food and drink. And it really is a stunning place, an optical orgy of the Belle Epoque, a brother of the Grand and the Petit Palais – inaugurated in 1901, on April 7, 110 years ago to the day. During lunchtime, the restaurant turns into a summit of people who live on corporate or public expenses, business people, government officials, they hop over from nearby Bercy where the French Ministry of Finance is located. These people have no time to admire the setting (or they so used to it that they no longer care): the 41 huge paintings displaying landmarks and sceneries from the Alps and France’s South, from places that can still be reached when you board a train at Gare de Lyon which make the major holiday hub from Paris.

La Belle Epoque

Let yourself be impressed by this ancient urban scene stuffed with antique clocks, decorated with Versailles-style mirrors, furnished with benches covered with leather. Let yourself be dazzled by the tons of gold leaves covering the sculptures and halls just like any wallpaper, and, well, if you really can’t avoid it – then sit down and order some food. The menu won’t surprise you, this is a bourgeois place, you know. We're talking "steak frites", "gigot d’agneau" (coming on a Cristofle trolley table) and some more pretentious stuff – avoid them all and go for the "Tartare de Boeuf" instead which is the safest bet at "Le Train Bleu". It’s served with excellent French fries and a nice salad, altogether they make a satisfying lunch which is - at 29 Euros (41 US$) - as over-priced as any dish on the menu.

The glorious past of Paris

Yet there is a way to visit this grand old palace without spending too much money on food. The "Big Ben Bar" opens its doors to the right of the entrance and it offers a perfect pretext to enter "Le Train Bleu". And what’s more, it’s a great, old-fashioned bar, so you might like to consider this option. Whatever reason you find, make sure you come here. Yes, it’s true, the food is only so-so. And there’s a good chance that the waiters will snub you. You’ll get ripped off without a doubt. But that’s not the point. "Le Train Bleu"offers you the unique chance to travel back in time. It invites you to encounter the glorious past of Paris. That’s a priceless thing, don’t you think? Le Train Bleu Gare de Lyon (first floor) Place Louis Armand 75012 Paris Tél. : +33 (0)1 43 43 09 06 Fax : +33 (0)1 43 43 97 96 E-mail :

Gare de Lyon