What was the Orient Express doing this Monday at Saint-Jean station?

ANDBetween a TER to Libourne and an Ouigo to Montparnasse, users of the Saint-Jean station, in Bordeaux, experienced a strange apparition this Monday, December 4th, at noon. This ghost train did not appear on any of the notice boards. Neither arrivals nor departures. When the long blue and white silhouette, matching the Eiffel’s glass roof, passed under the clock, it said 12:40. As if the hands had started to turn…

ANDBetween a TER to Libourne and an Ouigo to Montparnasse, users of the Saint-Jean station, in Bordeaux, experienced a strange apparition this Monday, December 4th, at noon. This ghost train did not appear on any of the notice boards. Neither arrivals nor departures. When the long blue and white silhouette, matching the Eiffel glass roof, passed under the clock, it read 12:40. As if the hands had started to turn backwards, the station went back 140 years, in full railway classicism: the Venice Simplon Orient Express (VSOE) stopped for fourteen minutes at Saint-Jean station.


The carriages date back to the 1920s and were decorated by artists such as René Lalique.

Thierry DAVID/ “SUDOESTE”

This institution of luxury and travel, an incarnation of the Belle Époque, contemporary with the construction of the station, should not, however, travel to the west of Paris – as its name indicates. If the Orient Express, the first with its name (1883), stopped operating in 1977, the Venice Simplon Orient Express took over in 1982, at the instigation of the British James Sherwood. Now operated by the Belmond group (LVMH)This prestigious train serves dream destinations on the way to the East: Venice, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Istanbul… and Marmande.

Destinations served by the Venice Simplon Orient Express.


Destinations served by the Venice Simplon Orient Express.

Belmond Group

In any case, it was from the tomato capital that the centuries-old Pullman cars left this Monday, at 1:54 pm, from Bordeaux, for a journey shrouded in mystery. Not Agatha Christie, but close. Most SNCF agents on duty at the station only found out about the arrival of the “VSOE” after seeing it first hand.

Jay-Z and Petrus 1969

Only the train staff (chefs, stewards, musicians, etc.) were allowed to board. And he respected the discretion expected in an establishment of this size: “I can confirm that Bordeaux is not on our list of destinations! It is a truly exceptional trip. We needed to maneuver our way out, so we slept at the station and headed towards Langon and Marmande. »

Between the TER and the TGV, the VSOE did not go unnoticed.


Between the TER and the TGV, the VSOE did not go unnoticed.

Thierry DAVID/ “SUDOESTE”

From Marmande, the train passed through Bordeaux again at around 5pm, before heading to Angoulême and then to Paris in the evening. With which privileged travelers aboard its 18 cars (bar, restaurant, beds) from the 1920s decorated by Lalique and other prestigious artists of the Roaring 20s? For whom, these comings and goings? According to our colleagues at “ Tough “, the train, which stopped in Libourne, would have welcomed artists Jay-Z and Beyoncé. A photograph of the musician, with a glass of red wine in his hand in the Bordeaux vineyards, is also circulating on Instagram. It is confirmed that Jay-Z celebrated his 54th birthday in Bordeaux. On Sunday, he had the opportunity to taste Petrus 1969, his year of birth. We also know that he likes the cuisine of Jean Imbert, chef at VSOE.

Requested by “Sud Ouest”, the Belmond group “unfortunately cannot share anything” about this trip that does not appear on rail traffic tracking websites. But an anonymous source confirms to “Sud Ouest” that the LVMH group “privatized the train for its staff” and “VIPs”.

The interior of the train is finely decorated.


The interior of the train is finely decorated.

Thierry DAVID/ “SUDOESTE”

At least one thing we know for sure: a Paris-Venice trip on this rolling palace costs around 4,000 euros. Paris-Istanbul, up to 18,000 euros. Prices to be agreed for a dream trip. Logic.

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