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He had been meticulous with the design: Art Deco in style, it was decked out with theatrical Napoleon III–inspired furniture and English club armchairs, and decorated with floral accents, plant motifs and glass bell lamps. Carriages were made of teak (although this was changed to metal after WW1) and decorated with crystal. Attention to detail was paramount; tables in the dining carts were set as if in the finest of restaurants. At the time, its interior was compared to a luxurious Paris apartment. Tolstoy, Grace Kelly, Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel and Agatha Christie were just a few of its guests, while the royalty of the day – Leopold II of

Belgium, Carol II of Romania, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Ferdinand I of Bulgaria – also found the time to jump on. His Majesty King Ferdinand particularly loved to make the train whistle, and would board wearing a white suit, taking control of the locomotive and racing around corners at full speed. However, His Majesty ended up upsetting the travellers, and Nagelmackers was forced to step in (to make amends, the King decorated him). One night in 1920, a man in his pyjamas staggered up to a signal box proclaiming himself to be French president Paul Deschanel. “And I’m Napoleon Bonaparte,” responded the signalman, to the Frenchman who, it turns out, was in fact the president after all. Having taken more than 60 trips, English novelist Agatha Christie (author of the famous Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile) was (obviously) a diehard fan: “The Orient Express is undoubtedly my favourite train,” she said at the time. “I like its tempo, which begins with an allegro con furore – the train shakes, crackles and launches in every direction in its mad hurry to leave Calais and the West – and gradually becomes rallentando while continuing

clockwise from above: Restaurant car no. 2979, built in 1925; Decorative panel Figurines and Grapes from car no. 4159, made in 1928 by René Lalique, white press molded glass on a silver leaf background; Interior of car no. 4160 with decorative panels Small Bouquet of Flowers, made in 1928 by René Lalique. all images © Lola Hakimian

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Profile for Runwild Media Group

Marylebone & Fitzrovia magazine January 2017  

Welcome to the latest edition of Marylebone & Fitzrovia magazine, celebrating the dynamism of the area and bringing you the latest features,...

Marylebone & Fitzrovia magazine January 2017  

Welcome to the latest edition of Marylebone & Fitzrovia magazine, celebrating the dynamism of the area and bringing you the latest features,...

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