In an almost impossibly romantic rebirth, a number of abandoned Orient Express carriages are being given a new lease of life, reports CNN travel.
The vintage carriages were discovered by French railway buff and PhD student of Orient Express history Arthur Mettetal, after he recognised their blue paint and white roofs on YouTube. They were languishing in a small railway station in Malaszwewicze, between Poland and Belarus.
An epic road trip followed. Mettetal confirmed the existence of the 13 carriages, which hadn’t been used for 10 years, then returned, accompanied by the Vice President of hospitality group Accor, which purchased them.
The plan? To use the carriages on a Paris to Instanbul route, due to open from 2025. Parisian architect Maxime d’Angeac was tasked with the restoration, although remarkably Mettetal described the carriages as “having almost no damage, just the wear and tear of time.”
The original interiors featured Art Deco marquetry by English decorators Morrison and Nelson, and glass by French craftsman René Lalique. Today’s carriages are larger than the vintage ones and the aim of the restoration is to retain a sense of history while safeguarding the future.
D’Angeac told the press he relished the opportunity of “finding ways to achieve extreme comfort and luxury in particularly small spaces”. The designs use emerald-green bar nooks, dark panelling, mirrors, lamplight and symmetry to pay homage to the best of Art Deco style.
Seekers of less polluting ways to travel will be train-curious and they do not have to wait until 2025. Night train routes are already being reinstated across Europe. Meanwhile Belmond group operate an Orient Express experience between various destinations including London and Amsterdam. And in addition to the Paris-Instanbul ambitions, Accor is launching a Dolce-Vita-inspired set of routes next year.