Rebirth and Restoration of the Orient Express
On October 2, 1883, 140 years ago the Orient Express left the Gare de l’Est in Paris for the first time with passengers on board for Constantinople.
Now, the French firm Accor together with SNCF which owns the Orient Express brand has recovered 17 of the old carriages. The Orient Express will debut at the next 2024 Olympic Games.
Behind his return there is a whole detective story, in the best style of one of his most illustrious passengers (fictional), Hercule Poirot.
The investigation covered several countries because the train had been missing for several decades.
The protagonist of the investigations is Arthur Mettetal, the French historian who in 2015 embarked on the global search for the lost wagons of the Orient Express. Specifically, he follows the trail of a named train, although it had other names, such as Nostalgie-Istanbul Orient-Express. “We knew that it existed somewhere, but nobody knew exactly where,” says the researcher.
YouTube and the Orient Express
By finding an anonymous video on YouTube of a convoy suspiciously resembling the Orient Express. The only clue: a sign with a Polish word. Using Google Maps and other 3D tools, he was able to locate the convoy at the Belarusian-Polish border.
A few months later, Mettetal travels to Warsaw with Guillaume Saint Lager, president of Orient Express, a translator, and a photographer. In the middle of a lonely steppe they find the abandoned wagons. They had been thrown to their luck for about ten years or more.
The most amazing thing is that they were surprisingly well preserved. Some of the carriages still had the original glass panels by Lalique, so emblematic of the Orient Express. Morrison and Nelson marquetry, inlaid with precious materials, such as gold or ebony, as well.
The next stage began to take the train to France for restoration. Accor succeeded after two years of negotiations with the owner of Nostalgie-Istanbul Orient Express. Finally, in a highly engineered operation, the train was escorted back to France in the summer of 2018.
Restoration of the Orient Express
Accor uses the Orient Express name under license from SNCF, France’s national rail service. In total there are 12 bedrooms with suites, a restaurant, three lounges and a caboose dating from the 20s and 30s of the 20th century and which are intended to evoke all the glamor of yesteryear and, of course, Art Deco craftsmanship. A job that has been commissioned to the architect Maxime D’Angeac.
On May 13, 2019, an exhibition of restored carriages was held at the Gare de l’Est in Paris. Here are some pictures of the wagons
Rebirth of the Orient Express
“The revival of the Orient Express is a technological challenge, which meets scientific, artistic and technical criteria. The entire project has been conceived as a work of art,” explains D’Angeac.
The new train promises to be the best “ambassador of French luxury”. “It will be an incomparable train travel experience,” adds the architect. To verify it will still have to wait. The rail icon is scheduled to roll again in 2024. It will depart from Paris and take some of its old and celebrated routes across Europe.
The Story of the Orient Express
The original Orient Express trains were created by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, founded by Belgian engineer Georges Nagelmackers, who was inspired by American Pullman night trains. The company reached its peak popularity in the 1930s, but in the 1970s, with the rise of the airplane and high speed, they lost their appeal.
However, in the 1980s, the American James Sherwood, owner of the Cipriani hotel in Venice, recovered several of the trains with the same spirit of luxury and opulence: thus the Venice-Simplon Orient Express was reborn, one of the trains still more popular today. emblematic of the world. The Complete note of the History of the Orient Express can be seen here
Orient Express Amazon Prints online