Every week, there's a new, modern, minimalist, quirky, hipster or vintage café popping up in Paris. You can't keep up with them!
Over the last three years I've been here, I've seen more and more of these great places appearing, catering to every niche market you can think of. KB Caféshop (flat whites on the menu!), Café Pinson (raw food, vegan food, green magma drinks), Ten Belles, Hollybelly, Thank You My Deer (gluten-free everything) - the list goes on.
These places have fulfilled my craving for a decent coffee (nice to see the coffee scene in Paris finally pick up!) and, my craving for.. a certain degree of familiarity. All these places remind me of cafés I would frequent in Australia and in London - modern, quirky and maybe a little.. Anglo Saxon? Sometimes when these places are full of expats or travellers, I have to remind myself that I'm still in Paris because my senses tell me I'm on Getrude Street in Melbourne or on Upper Street in Angel in London.
And, as much as I love these places, and I really do, every now and then, a part of me also longs for the Paris of the "belle époque".
The Paris of the past.
The old Paris where I would never be able to order my free range, organic scrambled eggs and gluten free toast with a soy flat white and wheatgrass antioxidant goji berry green smoothie to wash it all down.
Which brings me a place like Le Train Bleu.
The first time I stepped foot into Le Train Bleu, it was a French friend of mine who had suggested we meet there. As soon as I walked inside, I was transported back in time. It was breathtaking. Decorated ornate ceilings, picturesque frescoes that your neck ache would happily ache for and muted gold detailing everywhere.
The view was amazing. It felt a little Italian actually I remember thinking. I vowed to come back. I couldn't really afford dinner (25-30€ for an entrée, 40€ plus for a main) but after studying the menu, I quickly realised that coming back for breakfast would allow me to have a very similar experience at a third of the price.
Conveniently located at Gare de Lyon since 1901, Le Train Bleu is great to pop in for a drink or for breakfast. It's not cheap but you don't get this kind of ambiance anywhere in the world. If you're in the mood (or if your wallet is in the mood), you can opt for lunch or dinner too ;)
You can look outside at the buildings and watch people pass by.
You can look inside back into the train station watching the trains depart and arrive.
Then look straight ahead to see the whole restaurant in its glory.
Open daily from 7:30am to 10pm, a breakfast like this will set you back around 10€, which isn't too bad considering the prices of the entrées and mains. The smoked salmon version is around 13€ and three small pastries will cost you around the 5-6€ mark. Beware of the beverages though, a freshly pressed orange juice will cost 8€.
All in all, it's worth a visit for the experience. It's a similar feeling to spending time at the institutional Angelina, but with fewer tourists..!
I'm a big believer in 'not missing out on experiences'. So, if I can't afford the 45€ main for dinner I am determined to still get in there, with the 10€ breakfast..!
Bon ap' and happy time travelling ;)
Le Train Bleu
1st floor Gare de Lyon
Place Louis Armand
Métro/RER Gare de Lyon
Open daily from 7:30am to 10pm