Once on board, it was not hard to see why. Just one glimpse of the shining, polished wood, the linen shades and glowing hardware offered an invitation to an earlier era.
At the end of each corridor, these small oval Lalique windows had a little "sieve" like half-moon panel that could be opened to allow fresh air to circulate.
...or you might enjoy reading about journeys to the Middle East, whilst smoking your gitane, drinking wine, or even smoking your hookah!
You might have a quiet game of Patience on your own, with a nice cup of tea...
Everywhere you looked, the "Wagons-Lits" logo -- WL -- was evident, on this ashtray...
...stamped on the coffee service, and embroidered on all the table linens.
Between the windows of this carriage, and at either end, these beautiful glass panels by René Lalique cast a lovely transparent sheen. It just all took your breath away!
No trouble recognizing this man, though. "Bond...James Bond", who spent the night aboard the Orient Express with a character named Tatiana Romanova in the film "From Russia with Love".
There was no shortage of music and entertainment on board the Orient Express. Josephine Baker rode it many times, Diaghilev (a loyal patron) and his dancers performed, not just in the salon, but also up and down the corridors...
By 1889, you could begin your journey in London, travel to Paris by train and ferry, and pick up the Orient Express there, carrying on down to Constantinople. Luxurious hotels sprang up along the way, La Pera in Istanbul, Le Winter at Luxor and the Old Cataract at Aswan.
By the 1920s, you could travel from London to Baghdad in eight days...
...explore the wonders of Egypt and beyond. It was a another, far more exotic world from Piccadilly or the Champs Élysées.
On a train leg from Cairo to Suez in 1909, I noticed that the menu included "kippers" among the breakfast offerings. Not exactly exotic, but I would certainly have ordered them!
The end of the journey for most people was Constantinople, anchoring its position on the Bosphorous, marking that tangible shift from West to East.
The Orient Express trains ran on the original route until 1977. A shorter trip from Paris to Vienna continued to operate until 2009, when service ceased. There's talk that the SNCF -- France's national railway -- plans to reintroduce an Orient Express train service to Istanbul, using modern engines and carriages.
I love trains, but I'm not sure that would work for me. Having just immersed myself in the world of this wonderful exhibit, I know I would find myself looking back nostalgically to that earlier time, when you packed your steamer trunks, boarded the train at the Gare de l'Est, and emerged 80 hours later in a mysterious Oriental paradise.
And with this post, dear readers, it's time for Matthew and me to pack our trunks and suitcases. We are heading home next Wednesday! Thank you, as always, for following our various adventures, thanks for the comments and the emails. The blog will return in January 2015.