PICTURES. The Orient-Express departed from Reims station to reach Venice

PICTURES.  The Orient-Express departed from Reims station to reach Venice
Written by madishthestylebar

This Sunday, June 5, the Orient-Express, a legendary train, left Reims station at 5:25 p.m. for Venice. On board, a hundred handpicked guests, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the Veuve-Clicquot champagne house.

They are 124 travelers to have had the chance to leave on board the Orient-Express train this Sunday, June 5 from Reims station to Venice. As the rain fell heavily on the glass roof of Reims station, VSO staff, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, have been busy since 10 a.m., the time the train arrived in Reims, before the lucky ones boarded “for an exceptional time travel from June 5 to 7, 2022”.

This is to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Champagne house Veuve-Clicquot, established in the coronation city in 1772. The famous widow Clicquot, whose real name is Barbe-Nicole Cliquot-Ponsardin, rests in the cemetery from the north, a few steps from Reims train station.

For this anniversary trip in memory of the founding of this champagne house (subsidiary of the LVMH group), few details have leaked out, and non-travellers are prohibited from boarding. For prestige, and to honor the travellers, the young chef Jean Imbert (ex Top Chef, now chef of the Plaza Athénée) is expected between now and departure, it is he who will concoct the dishes served to the travelers during the 24 hours of travel.

According to one of the managers of the Orient-Express train questioned on the platform, “the main thing is not only the destination, it is the journey that must be exceptional. Entertainment is planned for the duration of the expedition, and everything is done so that travelers keep a beautiful memory, we pass through Switzerland so that they wake up with a splendid view of the Alps. There will be dancers, a pianist, a group of musicians on board the train“.

In terms of gastronomy, everything is precise. In a Rob Report article dated April 2022, on the arrival of Chef Imbert, we learn that cEach of the train’s kitchens accommodates three cooks and a chef or sous-chef at a time. All equipped with a salamander, a plancha, a gas cooker, a bain-marie and three ovens, as well as a dish warmer and heating lamps by the pass.

Everything must arrive at the table perfectly and hot”explains chef Jean Imbert to our colleagues. “When there is complexity, you have to challenge yourself creatively. Certain territories are also prohibited in these kitchens. If a customer asks for an off-menu item like fries, it’s impossible because boiling oil and water in large quantities is too dangerous if the train suddenly stops.

On platform A of the Reims-centre SNCF station, regular travelers cannot believe their eyes. It must be said that the atmosphere of the day, an extremely rare departure, changes from the TER Champagne-Ardenne towards Charleville-Mézières or the TGV towards Paris. The doormen of the luxury train are smiling in blue, gold and white uniforms. The train and its golden details shine like a jewel, it’s like being on the set of a film. Or outright in an Agatha Christie crime novel, “Murder on the Orient-Express” published on 1er January 1934 with Hercule Poirot. One would almost also imagine James Bond in a corridor of the train struggling with an enemy of the kingdom of England, as in With good kisses from Russia in 1963.

Well anchored in the reality of this beginning of June 2022, Magalie and Christophe, residents of the station, saw the long midnight blue and cream train from their apartment, and arrived immediately to take a closer look at this rare sight. “We live next to the station, it made us dream. The Orient-Express is luxury, it’s class. It’s legendary. This train has a history, it’s also cinema …We weren’t allowed to go in to see, it’s another world”. However, they tried to play the charm card, with their daughter Inès who came with her Miss Marne 15/17 years 2022 scarf, but nothing worked. Only an understanding employee took some pictures of the interior on their smartphone for them.

Because the carriages, cabins, corridors, berths, bars and dining rooms of this train like no other make you dream. Luxury is hidden from view. On the platform, three SNCF employees had the privilege of observing it inside. They don’t come back. “The carpet is so comfortable, the bedrooms, the suite, we even saw the James Bond bar!” A sort of five-star hotel on rails that triggers the imagination as soon as the name is mentioned.

A mythical train also for this couple from the Ardennes who came to spend the weekend in Reims. Installed in the shelter in the station to avoid the rain, Fabrice and Péguy are at the show on track A. It must be said that things are accelerating a few hours from the start. Selfies are multiplying, the Veuve-Cliquot house is beginning to welcome travellers. We bring the goods on the train, the bouquets of flowers, the food. The musicians are waiting.

Before taking their trains, travelers from the Champagne-Ardenne region find out about fares and chat on their benches. “45,000 euros per week for a Paris-Venice, laterOne lady quips. Overnight trips actually start at around $4,395.37 per person for a double cabin and around $15,080 per person for a large suite, both based on double occupancy. Fares include meals and a welcome glass of champagne All other drinks are at an additional cost.

The program for this anniversary trip from Reims is valued at 25,000 euros per person. Something to dream about. “Your adventure will begin at sunrise in Reims, for a visit to the Crayères of Maison Clicquot and will continue with a tasting of the most exclusive cuvées with the House’s cellar master”can we read on the official document.

Shortly before 5 p.m., a dozen horse-drawn carriages arrived in front of Reims station to transport guests from the headquarters of the Veuve Clicquot champagne house to the station. Dressed in an orange blanket in the colors of the brand, here they are arriving as a couple, in the hall, by the main entrance, accompanied by an agent of the Orient-Express. Guests who are mostly English-speaking and prestigious but who also have eyes that shine at the sight of the train and the welcoming committee. It must be said that things are not done by halves.

Jazz concert in front of the Orient-Express

©France Televisions

For a few minutes now, a jazz quartet has been passing the time for travelers at the station who are happy to be at the show in a good-natured atmosphere. Just to wait in a good mood for the departure of the train. Saxophone, guitar, ukulele then punctuate the arrival of the guests who multiply the selfies in front of the train before going up to join their compartment.

The train left the main track of Reims station under a downpour, at 5:25 p.m. for “a dive into a timeless atmosphere. A dinner with food and champagne will be served on board. The following day, at dawn, you will watch the sunrise over the Alps, from your cabin or in the morning light of Innsbruck station. Arrived in Venice, a boat will take you to the Cipriani, a hotel located on the island of Giudecca. The closing dinner at sunset will sign the conclusion of this trip as exclusive as it is unique“.

Too bad for the sun, during the departure, but it will soon return to Italy. This legendary train will not be returning to Reims anytime soon.

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