Nothings Says Glamour Like the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express
Original Article by Korena Bolding, Virtuoso
October 24, 2023
A Champagne-soaked, sequin-spangled train journey from Paris to the French Alps.
The legendary train, with 17 restored navy-and-gold carriages, many from its 1920s and ’30s heyday, celebrates slow travel in the most glamourous way possible. At Paris’ Gare de l’Est, a cadre of stewards dressed in perfectly tailored, all-black uniforms take your bags, while another escorts you to your cabin. The train pulls out of the station and idles outside Paris for dinner, drinks, and dancing, before departing for the French Alps overnight. You settle in, Champagne in a monogrammed crystal flute appeared in your hand – a sign of things to come.
Time on the VSOE revolves around bar car 3674, where a three-piece Italian band performs next to the grand piano, which doubles as a tabletop for a giant display of Petrossian caviar on ice. The dress code - black tie, a fitting complement to the car’s rich blue-and-gold interior - and passengers turn the space into a sea of sequins, beads, and feathers, clinking martini glasses and singing along to1950s classics.
A multicourse feast by Chef Jean Imbert inspired by his favorite French Christmas dinner is served in the stunning L’Oriental dining car, before you head back to car 3674 for more dancing and endless glasses of Perrier-Jouët. And when you finally make your way to your cabin, which has been transformed into a cozy bedroom, a patterned kimono and monogrammed slippers await you.
The next morning you wake up in a snow globe, as the VSOE rolls through the mountains. A steward delivers a spread of coffee, viennoiseries, and Bordier butter that you will dream about for the rest of your life. You watch through your window as the train pulls into Moûtiers. Is there a better wintertime arrival in the Alps?