Welcome to our blog!

It's better than a bat in the eye with a burnt stick!

This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Heading south

Thursday, January 14th., Menton.

I left the rue de Calais yesterday, depressed, at 5 p.m. after having lunched with C. The drive to the Gare de Lyon along the interminable length of the rue de Rivoli got on my nerves. And I was decidedly excited and 'wrought-up' when the train de grande luxe came up and I saw Philpotts. Much talking and mutual satisfaction. (I have a sore throat now) The train left sharp at 6 p.m. and arrived here at Menton sharp at 9.56 a.m. this morning. On the whole a really good sound train. It would be almost perfect if it had a drawing-room car, as it certainly ought to have.

The Calais-Mediterranée Express was a luxury French night express train which operated from 1886. It gained international fame as the preferred train of wealthy and famous passengers between Calais and the French Riviera. It was colloquially referred to as Le Train Bleu in French (which became its formal name after World War II) and the Blue Train in English because of its dark blue sleeping cars. The height of the season for "le train bleu" was between November and April, when many travellers escaped the British winter to spend time on the French Riviera. Its terminus was at the Gare Maritime in Calais, where it picked up British passengers from the ferries across the English Channel. It departed at 1:00 in the afternoon and stopped at the Gare du Nord in Paris, then travelled around Paris by the Grande Ceinture line to the Gare de Lyon, where it picked up additional passengers and coaches. 

It departed Paris early in the evening, and made stops at Dijon, Châlons, and Lyon, before reaching Marseilles early the next morning. It then made further stops at all the major resort towns of the French Riviera, or Côte d'Azur, before reaching its final destination, Menton, near the Italian border. The sleeping cars had only ten sleeping compartments each, with one attendant assigned to each sleeping car. Early passengers included the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), Charlie Chaplin, designer Coco Chanel, Winston Churchill and writers F. Scott Fitzgerald, Evelyn WaughSomerset Maugham, and Arnold Bennett.

 The ceaseless noise and jolting did not noticeably affect me much. I took a sedative and slept very well, though mostly conscious of the action and the din. Coming along the coast I had my first glimpse of Monte Carlo and the salons thereof. I was duly impressed by the beauty of the coast, and of Menton in particular.
Menton 1904
But my thoughts were chiefly occupied with the idea of the train, that luxurious complete entity - running through a country and ignoring it. I seldom had the least idea where the train was. Space, as a notion, had vanished for me. I might have been in the void.

No comments:

Post a Comment