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What do you expect in a station restaurant? If you’re travelling through the UK then your choices are either a chain restaurant or a chain cafe. If you are lucky at one of the big main line stations you may get a nice bar, such as the Champagne bar. Travelling in a lot of European cities can be a similar experience but every so often you find something truly outstanding.
Le Train Bleu stands out above not just stations restaurants, but restaurants in general. Le Train Bleu is a world famous and world renowned restaurant which sits overlooking the main concourse in Hall 1 of Gare du Lyon in the heart of Paris. The original restaurant or ‘Grand Buffet’ opened here in 1901 after Gare du Lyon was given the appearance of a grand palace with a new facade and bell tower being added to magnify the PLM (or Paris, Lyon, Marseille) terminal.
The buffet was built to be prestigious and luxurious, to be the last word in comfort and travel dining. The painted ceilings and walls depict the various places which the PLM trains visited.
The buffet was renamed ‘Le Train Bleu’ in 1963 in honour of the legendary Paris-Vintimille, train which ran from the heart of Paris to right out to the Côte d’Azur.
Over the years the list of diners reads like a who’s who of the twentieth century (Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot to name a few) and you might just recognise the interior from films such as Nikita by Luc Besson (great film if you get chance to see it!). The interior is simply beautiful and it is worth coming here for that alone.
If you are a little more pushed for time or cash than we were, then stopping for a relaxing drink in the Big Ben Bar is certainly worth even a flying visit.
The elegant interior was fully and painstakingly refurbished and restored in 2014 and the wonderful paintings along the main ceiling depicting cities and destinations served by the PLM train line which Le Train Bleu ran on. It felt a very luxurious to be dining here for our lunch, you could half expect to see Brigitte Bardot sitting at the next table.
As it tends to get a bit busy around lunch time I’d recommend booking in advance and if you are travelling on from Paris, as we were, it is a good idea to order the two course ‘travellers menu’ (€49 per person) which is served in just 45 minutes at lunch. It might sound a little pricey but it is well worth going somewhere like this as a really nice treat, especially if it’s the start of your honeymoon!
The travellers menu
The food was just wonderful. Yes, compared to the rest of the menu it was much cheaper but don’t be put off. If you are price conscious then you also don’t need to worry too much as you will certainly be full up after this lunch.
I love the theater and the presentation of the food. The main course is roast leg of lamb served with roast garlic, tomato and jus. On the side is a good size portion of gratin dauphinois. The presentation was wonderful and what I really liked about it was that it was all served at the table. The perfectly dressed waiter brings a trolley to your table then uncovers a leg of lamb and carves it for you at the table, plating the dish up with the tomatoes, garlic and finishing with the jus.
The lamb was to die for. It was perfectly cooked and still a little pink in side, served thinly sliced. It melted in the mouth. The gratin dauphinois was just gorgeous. Firm potatoes with a luxuriant and creamy sauce. Throw in the roasted garlic and tomatoes and pair it with a nice crisp glass of white wine and I was a very happy man! with that lunch.
The dessert was gorgeous and creamy whilst managing to also be light and fruity at the same time. I loved the circle of crisp cool white chocolate around the top of it.
I finished a very satisfying lunch off with a lovely coffee and biscuit. The perfect way to refuel before carrying on your journey through France, or if you just happen to be in the 12th arrondissement and looking for somewhere to eat on the right bank.
If you do decide to stop for lunch when breaking up a journey across France or the continent it’s probably a good idea to book a table to make sure you can get seated straight away and be served quickly enough.
Le Train Bleu
1er étage, Gare de Lyon,
Place Louis Armand,
Lunch 11.00 – 2.45
Dinner 7.00 – 10.45