Gare de Lyon, Place Louis Armand, 75012 Paris, France
There are more famous, more critically acclaimed, more popular, and definitely more expensive restaurants in Paris. But without exaggeration, Le Train Bleu is the most beautiful of them all.
The first time I walked in, my jaw dropped and I could not breathe for some moments, I was so stunned. I may scrimp and save on my hotel. I may eat crepes and croissants for all my meals. I may suffer the ignominy of an economy seat. But rest assured, I will always find the time and the euros to visit Le Train Bleu when I am in Paris.
As soon as I enter through its doors, I am transported to Belle Epoque Paris. At one end of the Gare de Lyon train station, I can imagine myself a traveler at the turn of an earlier century. I could be waiting for a train to Venice or some other romantic destination or perhaps just arrived and needing a meal. What travel-weary soul wouldn't instantly be revived by the exquisite painted ceilings, the frescoes and carvings?
I was especially eager to return to see the results of a recent renovation. Still breathtaking, I was relieved to see, with the waiters from my previous visits over the years still serving patrons.
The first thing I noticed was that the familiar neon blue sign over the door was gone, replaced by new lettering and a new design that seemed almost Asian to me.
The chairs and banquettes were now blue instead of the maroon leather.
Away with the old plates with art nouveau lettering, replaced by the more expensive looking china embossed with blue and gold. While the lamb remained in the menu (my go-to meal), the accompanying bleu cheese and garlic mashed potatoes are gone, and in its place a not so satisfying side of country potato wedges.
Changes come, even in such a timeless and elegant place. I still felt happy to be there and still awed after all these years. And I cannot wait to return to Paris and Le Train Bleu, my favorite restaurant in the world.
While Le Train Bleu could easily be the setting of a film of a bygone age, I am tickled by this amazingly modern and thrilling scene from Le Femme Nikita.