This Sunday, June 5, the legendary Orient-Express train left Reims station in Venice at 5:25 p.m. On board a hundred selected guests on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the Veuve-Clicquot champagne house.
These are 124 passengers who had the opportunity to board the Orient-Express train from Reims to Venice this Sunday. When it rained heavily on the glass roof of the station in Reims, VSO staff, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express have been busy since 10 a.m. when the train arrived in Reims before the lucky ones boarded “For exceptional travel from 5 to 7 June 2022”.
It’s a celebration 250 years of the Veuve-Clicquot champagne houseinstalled in the coronation town in 1772. The famous widow Clicquot, real name Barbe-Nicole Cliquot-Ponsardin, rests next to in the northern cemeterya few steps from Reims train station.
On this anniversary of the trip to commemorate the founding of this champagne house (a subsidiary of the LVMH group), little detail has been missed and passengers are not allowed on board. For the prestige and honor of travelers, a young chef John Imbert (former Top Chef, now Chef in Plaza Athénée) is expected between today and departure, he is the one who will prepare the meals served to the passengers within 24 hours of the trip.
According to one of the Orient-Express train managers interviewed on the platform, “the main thing is not only the goal, but the way must also be exceptional. Fun is planned throughout the expedition and everything happens so that travelers preserve a beautiful memory, we drive through Switzerland to wake up with a beautiful view of the Alps. There will be dancers, a pianist and a group of musicians on board the train“.
From a gastronomic point of view, everything is precise. In an article by Rob Report from April 2022upon the arrival of Chief Imbert, we learn that cEach of the train’s kitchens can accommodate three chefs and one chef or sous-chef at a time. Everything is equipped with a salamander, a planch, a gas stove, a bath-marie and three ovens, as well as a dishwasher and heating lamps at the pass.
“Everything has to come to the table perfectly and hot “explains chef Jean Imbert to our colleagues. “When it’s difficult, you have to face creatively.“ Some areas are also prohibited in these kitchens. If a customer requests something out of the menu, such as fries, this is impossible because boiling oil and water in large quantities is too dangerous if the train suddenly stops.
Ordinary passengers do not believe their eyes on platform A of the SNCF station in the center of Reims. It must be said that the atmosphere of the day, an extremely rare departure, changes from TER Champagne-Ardenne towards Charleville-Mézières or from the TGV towards Paris. Luxury train porters are smiling in blue, gold and white uniforms. The train and its golden details shine like a gem, it’s like shooting a movie. Or directly in Agatha Christie’s crime novel, “Orient Express Crime » published on 1ehm January 1934 p Hercule Poirot. One would almost also imagine James Bond in the corridors of a train wrestling with an enemy of the English kingdom, such as Kisses from Russia in 1963.
The station residents, Magalie and Christophe, well anchored in reality this early June 2022, saw a long midnight blue and cream train from their apartment and immediately arrived to take a closer look at this rare sight. “We live next to the station, that made us dream. The Orient-Express is a luxury, it’s first class. It’s legendary. This train has a history, it’s also a cinema … We weren’t allowed to see it, it’s a different world”. However, they tried to play a magic card with their daughter Inès, who came with a Miss Marne scarf 15/17 in 2022, but nothing worked. Only an understanding employee took a few pictures of them indoors on a smart phone.
Because the cars, cabins, corridors, beds, bars and canteens of this train will make you dream like no other. Luxury is hidden from view. On the platform, three SNCF employees had the honor of observing her inside. They don’t come back. “The carpet is so comfortable, the bedroom, the suite, we even saw the James Bond bar! ” A kind of five-star hotel on the dorms that triggers the imagination as soon as the name is mentioned.
A fabulous train for this couple from Arden, who came to spend a weekend in Reims. Fabrice and Péguy, installed in a shelter at the station to avoid the rain, are on display at track A. Needless to say, a few hours from the start, things are getting faster. Selfie multiplies, the house Veuve-Cliquot begins to welcome travelers. We bring goods by train, bouquets of flowers, food. Musicians are waiting.
Before leaving the train passengers from the Champagne-Ardenne region pricing information and converse on their bench. “45,000 euros a week for Paris-Venice, laterOne lady is joking. Night trips actually start at around $ 4,395.37 per person for a double room and around $ 15,080 per person for a large suite, both for double occupancy. Prices include food and a welcome glass of champagne All other drinks are at an additional cost.
The program of this annual trip from Reims is valued at 25,000 euros per person. Something to dream about. “Your adventure will begin at sunrise in Reims, visiting Crayères of Maison Clicquot, and will continue with a tasting of the most exclusive cuvées with the cellar master of the house.”we can read on the official document.
Shortly before 5 pm, dozens of horse-drawn carriages arrived in front of Reims station to take guests from the Veuve Clicquot champagne home to the station. Clothes in an orange blanket in the colors of the brand come here as a couple to the hall through the main entrance, accompanied by an Orient-Express agent. Guests who are mostly English speaking and prestigious, but at the same time have eyes that glow when looking at the train and the welcome committee. Needless to say, things are not done halfway.
Jazz concert in front of Orient-Express
© France Televisions
The jazz quartet has been spending time at the station for a few minutes with passengers who are happy to be in a good mood for the show. Just wait in a good mood for the train to leave. The saxophone, guitar, ukulele then highlight the arrival of guests who multiply their selfie in front of the train before heading to the compartment.
The train left the main dormitory of Reims station in a downpour at 17:25 on “immersion in a timeless atmosphere. Dinner with food and champagne will be served on board. The next day at dawn you will watch the sunrise over the Alps from the cabin or in the morning light of Innsbruck train station. Upon arrival in Venice, the boat will take you to Hotel Cipriani, located on Giudecca Island. The final dinner at sunset will sign the end of this trip as exclusive as it is unique“.
Too bad the sun, on departure, but will soon return to Italy. This legendary train will not return to Reims in the foreseeable future.