Blue Train reveries: the Paris-to-Nice sleeper

Ghosts of famous Wagons-Lits trains haunt Andrew Martin as he takes one of the last sleepers to the Riviera

The Gare de Lyon is the most beautiful Parisian station: the faded green paint of its ironwork and the palm trees on the concourse suggest an aristocratic conservatory. Its Train Bleu restaurant is accessed from the concourse by an imperial (that is, double-sided) staircase. The main dining room is called the Gold Room, to deter anyone thinking of ordering a cheap snack. Even the luggage racks above the leather bench seats are gilded, and big murals depict linen-suited flâneurs and ladies in gauzy dresses frolicking in a Riviera of the late-19th century.

Even the luggage racks above the leather bench seats are gilded

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