Once we decided we would spend Christmas in Paris, I began my search for the restaurant where we would have Christmas Dinner 2019. It was months before Christmas; none of the restaurants had even posted their Christmas menus nor started accepting reservations, so I was confident I could make my first choice happen. But what would that first choice be? Very good food was certainly one requirement, but many restaurants in Paris check off that box; I wanted that, plus something more. So many outstanding options, but only one would become my winner.
I did copious research and was intrigued by a line from Conde Nast: "It's hard to believe, one of Paris' most serene, picturesque and dignified restaurants is also located within one of the busiest train stations, but Le Train Bleu, an icon of Parisian dining, is a far cry from the Gare de Lyon's hustle and bustle." Further research convinced me that Le Train Bleu would check all the boxes for our family. So yes, we went to the train station, for Christmas dinner.
So, these photos don't look like they were taken in one of the busiest train stations in Paris; however, it was Christmas Day, and even more significantly, the transportation system was on strike. It was kind of nice to experience Gare de Lyon at a less frenetic pace, and true to form, even the train station was nicely decorated with Christmas lights.
Le Train Bleu, originally called "Buffet de la Gare de Lyon", was built for a World's Fair, the Exposition Universelle, in 1900. Painted murals adorn the restaurant which depict views of the main cities and regions of France as viewed from the trains circa 1900. There are 41 murals, mounted on canvas, painted by the most prominent artists of that time. Le Train Bleu was designated a Monument Historique in 1972.
Gildings, carvings, and frescoes cover all the walls; every inch oozes Parisian opulence.
Service is superlative. A restaurant that has been around for 120 years can command the best in service staff, and they clearly do at Le Train Bleu.
The three of us thought each of our courses was delicious. Beautiful food artfully presented within museum worthy dining rooms. One gentleman sang, I want to say Christmas carols, but they were in French and the music was not familiar to me. Regardless, his voice was nice and it was a fun and lovely touch.
So whether you want to grab some escargot or pommes frites before a train, have a nice dinner with family, celebrate Christmas or another special occasion, check out some lovely artwork from 1900's prominent artists, see some magnificent Belle Epoch architecture, or see what a turn of the century restaurant built for a world exposition in Paris might look like, Le Train Bleu might just be right for you. It will, without doubt, be memorable.