Last Christmas I was in Paris and invited my Dad over to stay in my apartment for a few days - for Christmas Day we went and spent an extremely extravagant afternoon having lunch in Le Train Bleu, at the top of the Gare de Lyon. It's expensive and the food is very rich, but it's a lovely place for a special occasion.
The iconic restaurant opened in 1901 in the Gare de Lyon built by architect Marius Toudoire a year earlier, with its huge clock tower and ornate facade. Technological innovation and travel was a huge focus at the turn of the century, and the restaurant was designed like a luxurious, comfortable train buffet. In the 1960s it was renamed by Albert Chazal to honour the Paris-Ventimille legendary train line to the Côte d’Azur and it's been celebrated throughout the last century with regulars such as Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot and Jean Cocteau.
The venue is incredibly beautiful: gilt gold ceiling with intricate carvings, decorative mouldings, sparkling chandeliers and beautiful frescoes decorate the walls. It's more museum than restaurant. There are 41 paintings depicting views of cities and sceneries viewed from the PLM Company lines in the 20th century: the capital, Lyon, Marseille, Monaco, Nice and Orange.
The cuisine is traditional French: hearty winter warmers and decadent ingredients from beef fillet and lobster bisque, to rich foie gras, scallops and smoked salmon, matched with a rich wine list and Champagne. Certainly not an everyday venue, but glorious for a treat.
Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon, 75012 Paris