The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Dec 12, 2007

End of the Blue Train

Yet another era comes to an end. SNCF, the French national rail operator, has shut down the Blue Train. An icon of the Roaring Twenties and one of the finest train services on the planet has proven far too expensive to maintain.

Between 1922 and 1938, this night train carried the upper-crust between Calais and the French Riviera. It inspired Agatha Christie and even a ballet by Diaghilev (the Picasso painting here was used on the curtains for this ballet). Dark blue styling, fine dining on restaurant cars with on-board chefs, it even had piano players and personal porters.

After nationalisation of the line, SNCF continued to run the luxury sleeper services. Soon, Le Train Bleu found itself suffering because of the competition: faster trains and air-links from Paris to the south made it economically unviable. Other fancy trains like the Simplon Orient Express reinvented themselves to cater to the ultra-rich. Not this train, and last weekend, the last sleeper service trundled across the country.


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