This imposing set of paintings can be found on the ceilings and walls of a restaurant in Paris. Specifically in the restaurant Le Train Bleu (The Blue Train) which is located on the first floor of the Parisian train station Gare de Lyon. A building that was inaugurated in 1901 on the occasion of the celebration of the Universal Exhibition of that year.
Salón del Train Bleu
And it is common for the great Universal Exhibitions of the past to bequeath important buildings to the cities where they were held. In the same Paris the Eiffel Tower was erected in 1889 for that year's Exposition. Or in 1851 the Crystal Palace in London was built for the same reason. Something that has also happened in the 20th century, for example with the magnificent Atomium that was built in Brussels for its Universal Exhibition in 1958.
This is how this station was opened in 1901 to serve the Paris-Lyon-Marseille railway company. And it was done in a big way, with a monumental façade and a great Clock Tower that rises up to 64 meters high. All designed by the architect Marius Toudoire, who conceived the building as if it were an enormous and modern palace.
And in every great palace there is a main hall and here is the space that houses the restaurant, on whose ceiling there are more than 40 scenes with landscapes of the different places thatcrossed that railway. Some scenes in which more than twenty artists participated, including René Billotte, Henri Gervex or Gaston Casimir Saint-Pierre or François Flameng, all of them valued in their time as great decorator painters.
But they didn't just paint landscapes of cities like Marseille, Monaco or the summit of Mont Blanc in the Alps. Also in this complex decorative program appear the portraits of characters linked to that railway company, as well as the effigies of personalities from the beginning of the 20th century.
On the other hand, it must be said that the entire ornamental program of the current Le Train Bleu restaurant is not only based on paintings. Actually, it is a whole set that also includes moldings, wood carvings, furniture, chandeliers, endless details and of course the paintings, which despite what it may seem, are not frescoes, but oil paintings. on canvas.
In short, this artistic ensemble is a good example of the mythical Paris of La Belle Epoqué, and in fact it is listed in France as a Historical Monument. And fortunately today it can be enjoyed in all its splendor, as it underwent a major restoration in 2014.