Once upon a time there was the Orient-Express

Documentaire Orient Express

It is the train of all fantasies… At the end of the 19th century, an ultra modern and daring adventure begins: for the first time, a train will go directly from the West to the East, from Paris to Istanbul .

To revive the myth , director Louis Pascal Couvelaire signs an extraordinary docufiction : Orient-Express, the journey of a legend , on Arte , which brings the iconic train back to life.

An Art Deco palace ... in a train

Thanks to the talent of the decorator René Lalique , the Orient-Express quickly became renowned for its cult Art Deco style . Mahogany bar, smooth leather club chair, decorative panels on an inlaid silver background for the dining car… A true luxury jewel with the comfort worthy of its distinguished passengers: Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway, Léon Tolstoï ...

The greatest chefs in Europe were also invited to treat the luxurious clientele, changing the menu over the journey and stopovers, with increasingly spicy dishes ...

The train of all debauchery

The Orient-Express is above all the playground of an era. We can no longer count the number of political , murderous and amorous intrigues of which the Orient Express was the scene.

The Art Deco wagons worthy of a Sacha Guitry camera are conducive to games of seduction , a place of banter for businessmen of the time. We are already under the spell. Mata Hari , part prostitute part spy, also played with men of power by getting scoops on the pillow. It does not take more to make this train a mythical place.

The Orient-Express has also been at the heart of political conflicts . At the end of the First World War , France chose a wagon from Georges Nagelmackers' company to sign the armistice. Hitler uses the same wagon to sign the armistice of June 22, 1940 between the Third Reich and the government of Pétain.

Let us not forget the cult detective novel by Agatha Christie , The crime of the Orient-Express . Even if it is only pure fiction , it has largely contributed to all the legend that surrounds this train of all fantasies .

The ancestor of interrail

Did you do an Interrail with your friends during your studies? You can say thank you to Georges Nagelmackers . He is the initiator of trans-national rail travel. And yet, at the time, it was a real challenge .

The rail system was still national. Each country has its own rails and wagons , so on the program: change of train several times during the journey. Oh yes, and you had to take a boat to cross the Danube . Basically, it took 96 hours and the equivalent of 3 months' wages for an unskilled worker for a one-way trip to Istanbul , the terminus.

So, we love it, our time and our accessible Europe at low prices and ultra-quickly ...

Extrait du documentaire

Orient-Express, the journey of a legend. Saturday March 16 at 8:50 p.m. on Arte.

In replay on arte.fr until March 22 .

Also discover  Michael Jackson: the documentary everyone is talking about .

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