Carte Postale, Micklewright

04 March 2021  |  Transport, Tourism

Le Train Bleu; Paris to Menton

As tourism to the south of France gained popularity towards the end of the 19th century, a train service was introduced for the wealthy and famous travellers taking them from Calais to Paris and onwards to the final town on the Cote d'Azur before the Italian border, Menton.

1886 - 2003

The first version of the train line connecting Paris and the French Riviera was introduced in 1886, and operated until 2003. It was colloquially referred to as Le Train Bleu' in French (which became its formal name after World War II) and 'The Blue Train' in English because of its dark blue sleeping cars.

Originally running through to Rome at the begining of the 20th century, The Blue Train service reverted in November 1920 to operating between Paris and Menton. It was revised two years later to start in Calais, travelling to Paris and onward to the south.

Calais to Paris to Menton

Hugely popular with summer holidaymakers, the height of the season was between April and November. Starting at the Gare Maritime in Calais, it picked up passengers from British passengers arriving by ferry. It left at 1pm and after reaching the Gare du Nord in Paris, travelled around the city to the Gare de Lyon where it added passengers and coaches for the trip south. The train made stops at Dijon, Chalons and Lyon before reaching Marseille the following morning. Onward along the coast with stops at Saint-Raphael, Cannes, Juan-les-Pins, Antibes, Nice and Monte Carlo, before reaching its final destination, just before the Italian border in Menton.



Early passengers included Coco Chanel, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Just before the Second World War, travel in France was becoming more affordable, and in 1936, the Popular Front Government introduced second and third class coaches to the train.

After the war, scheduled airline services started to operate between Paris and Nice which took away much of the wealthy clientele.

In the 1980s, the night express trains were gradually replaced by the high speed (TGV) trains which cut the length of the journey from Paris to Nice from 20 hours to 5 which effectively ended the grand era of luxury night trains to the Cote d'Azur.

Pure France holiday rental homes with sea views on the Cote d'Azur;

Holiday villa in provence with private pool

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Private pool with mediterranean sea view

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Mediterranean sea view

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Mediterranean sea views

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Hugh Atkins

Co-founder of Pure France. 20 years of visiting and photographing fabulous properties, meeting fascinating people and driving every main and back road in France.

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