“After a long history, Le Train Bleu ceased to exist under that name in September 2003, when SNCF rebranded all of its principal overnight trains as Service Nuit. The train coaches remained in use until 9 December 2007, by which time the train had lost its dining car and most of its sleeping cars“– Paul Ebeling
The Paris-to-Nice sleeper train is no longer blue
Le Bleu Train has a worthy heir: After a 4-yr hiatus, Paris-Nice night train services resumed on 20 May 2021, with French Prime Minister Jean Castex in attendance. Heir to the legendary Le Train Bleu, the relaunch of the Paris-Nice night train is part of a bigger investment plan by the French Government to reach its climate goals.
Here I profile the train, its prestigious history and its part in France’s transport revolution.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex boarded the Paris-Nice night train for its inaugural trip on 20 May 2021, leaving Paris’s Gare d’Austerlitz at 20:52 and arriving in Nice 12 hrs later at 09:06. Initially scheduled for 16 April, the inauguration was delayed as a result of France entering its 2nd Covid-19 lockdown.
“This launch should highlight a virtuous transport mode which contributes to the opening up of territories,” a member of the prime minister’s entourage told French news agency AFP. “Nice is ultra-connected for the upper classes but less so for students and others.”
The Paris-Nice night train is the heir to the legendary Le Train Bleu, which carried the international jet set to the French Riviera in the early 1900s.
“This first night train is a strong symbol, which signifies the rebirth of this mode of transport that some considered obsolete,” said Jean-Pierre Farandou, CEO of French national railway company SNCF.
Originally launched in Y 1886, Le Train Bleu was 1 of the world’s 1st night trains, reaching the status of icon in the 1st 2 decades of the 20th Century.
Starting in Calais and ending in Menton, Le Train Bleu, which got its name from the blue and gold colour of its sleeping cars connected the north of France with the French Riviera, transporting the era’s international rich and famous.
Celebrity Train Bleu guests included Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Cocteau and Agatha Christie, who set one of her novels – The Mystery of the Blue Train – aboard it.
The Paris-Nice night train will not be the only 1 to restart, as the French Government is planning to restart several more routes before Y 2030.
“My ambition [is for] ten night trains in 2030 organised around four major corridors: Bordeaux to Marseille, Dijon to Marseille, Tours to Lyon via Ile-de-France and Paris to Toulouse,” said Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari.
The revitalization of night train routes will not be restricted to France only but will include other European destinations. By the end of the year, services on the Vienna-Monaco-Paris route are set to begin, while the Paris-Berlin night train will be available from Y 2023.
Have a healthy, prosperous weekend, Keep the Faith!