Rarely has a place been so deserving of its nickname. Between France, Italy and Sardinia, Corsica is a gorgeous throwback to times gone by. Almost half of this 8,722-square-kilometre island is classed as a national park.
It’s the story of Alancienne, a truly incredible marketplace whose products never cease to amaze. But Alancienne isn’t a physical market, per se, it’s a website that allows you to stock up on the very best local (and sustainable) foods.
As it happens, an underwater tunnel will link La Ciotat with the city of Ajaccio in Corsica in two hours and 15 minutes (over a total of 326km).
We want to draw your attention to two myths, which may seem banal but are often advanced in favour of the aviation industry not being ‘that’ polluting. Those anti-fake news crusaders over at the Réseau Action Climat have in fact explored the issue.
Marseille, September 1938. At the time, France’s second city didn’t have a good rep. Local mobsters ruled the roost, conducting large-scale looting all over the place.
La Laiterie de Paris isn’t any old fromagerie: when its first outlet opened in Marcadet-Poissonniers, it was in fact the first time anyone had started making cheese in the heart of a major French city.
Few European cities feel like they’re in such perfect harmony with the water around them. You couldn’t visit Amsterdam without traversing the canals of the city centre. They’re literally unavoidable, and also an integral part of the tourist experience in the Dutch capital.
The designer duo Patricia Bastard and Julien d’Hoker from Yellow Window, the firm that’s helping us design and lay out our trains, are lifting the veil on how they aim to ensure you have a fun, comfortable experience on board Midnight Trains.
What if heads of state gave up the good old government airplane? If there’s one person who doesn’t need convincing, it’s Elizabeth II. For she’s always had the British Royal Train at her disposal.
Liverpool, a former working-class city which has weathered economic crisis after crisis to become a thriving cultural hub, is now one of the UK’s best tourist destinations. Let’s explore a bit.
Since 2016, Refugee Food has aimed to change public perception of refugees, facilitating their integration in the restaurant industry, while also fighting for a fair, sustainable, diversified food production chain.
For several years now, several of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs have had their sights set on space travel. The likes of Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are sure of it: they’re going to make interplanetary tourism a thing – and make a huge success of it, too.
Madrid’s metro, for what it’s worth, is the seventh-biggest in the world with its 294 km of tracks, making it all the more ripe for imaginative storytelling.
Valencia. Pairing a rich cultural history and with a contemporary thirst for the avant-garde, this city’s calles and callejones are ripe for a wander. So let’s go!
Whether you bag a table or take your food away to the beach, their dishes are perfect for sharing and nibbling on – think wontons, bibimbap and spring onion pancakes, the latter brilliantly elevated by a generous helping of those sumptuous legumes. And now you’re in luck, as Thi-Hieu Nguyen has shared with us the recipe for that very dish. Enjoy!
European rail firms have mobilised to help evacuate civilians and victims of the war, carrying them off to lands untouched by the ravages of bombs and bullets. To tell you all about it, we decided to hand over the mic to Nick Brooks, the secretary-general of ALLRail.
This city is known as Bologna la Rossa (Bologna the Red). It owes the nickname both to the bricks and tiles of its buildings and to its leftist politics. To get a feel for the place, you should first head to the Piazza Maggiore.
Chef Harry Cummins has shared this recipe for a gâteau de voyage that’s perfect for your next railway trip.
Poetry’s intimate relationship with the railways in fact goes back nearly two centuries, trains acting as muses to the world’s writers.
Another Belgian city that’s attracted exceptional craftspeople, architects, writers and painters over the years. Antwerp is one of those places where you can’t help but feel inspired as you wander its beautiful, historic streets.
In this seasonal dish, the cabbage pairs marvellously with the caraway seeds (a local alternative to cumin), while the reblochon makes a punchy addition, too. Watch out: this dish is highly, highly moreish.
In the kitchen of the Buvette de l’Académie du Climat, you’ll find a crack team of chefs who’ve been working in sustainable food and restaurants for a long time now.
Have you ever passed through the Gare de l’Est in Paris? If you happened to be standing on either platform three or four, you may well have walked over a bunker built more than 80 years ago. Building a shelter beneath Quite the idea, hey?
The Florence of the Elbe. That’s the rather flattering nickname given to this city, so ravaged by human folly throughout its history. First it was largely destroyed by a fire in 1685, before being rebuilt for the first time and receiving its distinctive baroque look.
In the 1830s, the heads of state of the various territories that made up the Italian peninsula started to show interest in the promise offered by the railways.
When people mention Pisa, you probably immediately think of the famous leaning tower. But we reckon you should kick off your trip by meandering along Via Santa Maria, the city’s main street...
Mathilde and Audrey have now shared the recipe for their grapefruit-pistachio tart, given this is prime citrus season. Bon appétit!
This near-mythical train has been running since 1994, allowing millions of people to cross the Channel and embrace their European heritage. But inevitably, the lethal combination of the pandemic and Brexit has caused the rail service great trouble.
Say you’re off to the city for a week or so sometime soon, there are loads of amazing exhibitions you should check out. Two of them will take you on a trip back in time.
One of the best chefs in France. And that’s official: in 2021, Daniel Morgan was named the best chef of the year by the prestigious Le Fooding guide.
Nicolas Bargelès has joined us as director of railway operations after a glittering career that’s taken him from the Réseau Ferré de France to Thello to Eurostar. Throughout, his aim has always been to promote the train as a means of travel.
Let’s zoom in on Spain. According to myth, the Spanish wanted to set themselves apart from the rest of Europe for one main reason: Napoleon.
That means welcome to Bilbao, in one of the four official languages of Spain. Yes, this week, we’ll be heading off to the Basque capital. Bilbao has had something of a new lease of life in recent decades, without ever losing its authenticity.
Chef Bertrand Grébaut shares a new recipe, this time from Septime, la Cave, Clamato, D'une Île, a true cooking bible that would probably keep you going for years. Here it is: chicory braised in savagnin.
Corinne Menegaux, the director-general of the Office du Tourisme et des Congrès de Paris explains how Paris is trying to set an example as a sustainable tourism destination. A lot is at stake for the City of Light, one of the world’s most-visited cities.
Anyone who’s visited Paris no doubt will have admired the building, if not been inside to take in all the majestic art inside. Right in the heart of the French capital, overlooking the Seine, stands the Musée d’Orsay, just over the river from the extraordinary Tuileries Gardens.
When we say Munich, many of you will probably immediately think of Oktoberfest, that annual knees-up during which beer, sausages and other German indulgences help create the ultimate – for want of a better word – sesh. But there’s so much more to this city than that notorious festival.
Les Amarres is a one-of-a-kind space that’s just opened near the Gare d’Austerlitz in Paris. The latest opening from the team behind Yes We Camp – to whom Paris owes the success of Grands Voisins, notably – it is a collaboration with the charity Aurore, which specialises in the fight against poverty and social exclusion.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of difficulty for the flight sector, climate change poses an even greater (and more enduring) challenge. In this report, the researchers explored various paths the industry can follow to survive in the long term, based on findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Seven. It’s a magic number that’s no doubt cropped up in innumerable stories since we were kids, and so it’s perhaps not by chance that it’s also the number of stations from which it is possible to leave Paris for further afield.
Torino is a much less touristy city, with just as much impressive history, architecture – and food. Turin, which was the first capital of a united Italy, is the jewel of the Piedmont region. Here’s where you go when you get there.
Francesca Riccò recently decided to leave the city and set up a base over the border in Nice. You’re now able to sample her masterful cuisine at Babel Babel.
Julien and Patricia are both sold on the dream-like suspension of time that goes hand in hand with the sleeper-train experience – a far cry from the hectic, speed-at-all-costs approach that applies to most other forms of rail travel.
σπεῦδε βραδέως. Make haste slowly. This Greek (and later Roman) adage really suits the world of railways. This saying played some role inspiring those who invented the first-ever railway – or rather a very significant ancestor of it. Let’s travel 2,600 years back in time to the Mediterranean coast.
‘The Midnight Trains logo is simple and evocative, as a matter of principle and by necessity. Four lines converge to form an M for midnight, combined with a typography created exclusively for the brand, with its G resembling a train station clock and simple, stable, timeless lettering. Fitting in with our goal of reinventing the night train, our logo is neither nostalgic nor tied to any passing trends.
No doubt several of you have taken a boat heading for the Cyclades, without stopping at the historic capital that looks out over them. Athens is a vibrant city, infused with a distinctive Mediterranean art de vivre.
Yorgaki, the first and only Greek café in Paris, on the Rue des Martyrs. When you go there, you’ll immediately feel like you’re on holiday, far removed from the bustle of the city around you. Here you can sip a classic Greek coffee, paired with a creamy galaktoboúreko: the perfect way to whisk you off to the Aegean.
In 1936, around 60 years after it was first written by Verne, another artist started dreaming of another 80-day world tour. The geopolitical situation in Europe was as delicate as ever, and Jean Cocteau wanted to live a little. He wanted to see the world.
Albane Godard is the director-general of the Fondation GoodPlanet, created by photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The mission of this foundation is to raise awareness of ecology and the environment, and Albane Godard without a doubt is the person to do just that.
Because as impetuous and volcanic as Naples is, the sea no doubt helps the southern Italian city find its sense of balance. So, without further ado, let’s explore. There’s not one Naples, but multiple – perhaps that’s why there’s an s at the end.
This hangover remedy comes courtesy of Ai Loan Dupuis and Hakim El Bour, the founders of Sezono, a Parisian establishment who’d already offered up their recipe for an oyster-mushroom kebab in a previous edition of this newsletter.
October 17 1961. Among travellers passing through are two young, handsome guys who run into each on platform 2. They’re 18 years old, their whole lives ahead of them. The first goes by the name Michael Philip Jagger, the second Keith Richards. And it’s the latter who told the story of their meeting best, in a letter to his aunt a few months later.
So, what’s a sound architect? It’s the only way we could think of encapsulating the talents of Victor le Masne. This 39-year-old from Paris is a composer, musician, producer, singer (admittedly, not so often nowadays) and multi-instrumentalist.
Throughout its many major transformations over the past century, the German capital has kept reinventing itself and providing a refuge for avant-garde types. Will it ever get… boring? We doubt it, and that’s very much a good thing. So, let’s head on down for a quick tour.
The bakery in question is Nice’s Zielinska. Its founder, Dominika Zielinska, has been serving up delicious baked goods for two years now, and it was recently honoured by the Guide du Fooding. But you won’t find any baguettes or croissants here. Instead, everything is made using ancient grains and has a lengthy fermentation process.
We’ll be lifting the lid on an application of the railways that is perhaps best viewed from space. Because while the general tendency of the rails has been to connect nations, to share goods ideas and to bring people together, in some cases they’ve been used to divide and cut regions off from the rest of the world.
We’ve just signed a major partnership with TravelPerk. And we’re chuffed: TravelPerk is the world’s number-one travel management platform for businesses. That means they’re the guys organisations have the most faith in when it comes to planning business trips for their employees.
We’re heading right to the very edge of Europe, and to be specific, to Saint Petersburg, the city that was the Tsars’ capital for nearly two centuries. Founded essentially from scratch by Peter the Great in 1703, this city is actually only 400km from Helsinki – something that’s often forgotten.
Paris’s hottest chefs, Simon Aushcer (who’s already appeared in a previous edition of Midnight Weekly) to share one of his favourite recipes. Once again, his choice very much adheres to the principles of sustainable cooking – something integral to his culinary philosophy.
We’re going to tell you the story of the biggest bank heist of all time – the time Resistance fighters in France robbed billions from a Banque de France train, just as the Second World War was coming to a close.
For four centuries the ‘Venice of the North’ has somehow managed to evade the rampant industrialisation that has transformed similar cities in this part of the world. So in this brief guide to the Belgian city, we’ll be properly travelling back in time. Let’s go.
Cheese making has become so industrialised that in many cases you can hardly taste authentic stuff these days. To remedy that, we asked the visionary team from Terroirs d’Avenir to help you curate the ultimate cheese platter (and one that isn’t too bad for the environment, either).
The mountainous terrain of the champion in question hasn’t held it back. Spread across its 41,285 square kilometres, Switzerland has no less than 5,300 kilometres of railway, with 29,000 kilometres of lines. That makes it one of the most dense railway networks in Europe.
Geneva regularly appears in top tens of the best places to live in the world, and even though the health crisis may have caused rankings like this to change somewhat over the past couple of years, the charms of this Swiss city remain clear for all to see. Let’s take a closer look.
A very typical festive French meal by Thibault Eurin, the chef at Bien Ficelé in Paris. His establishment is known for offering a unique French spin on a rotisserie-grill experience. The emphasis there is very much on sharing and conviviality, and only quality produce is to be found on the menu.
Today, trains have been reborn thanks to the climate crisis, and leaders haven’t overlooked the opportunity presented by this revival. Let’s take the Rail Baltica project which started back in the 1990s.
As soon as you arrive, you’ll be blown away: the entrance to the Art Nouveau station is ringed by four giant sculptures: the Lyhdynkantajat, by artist Emil Wikström, which give the rail station a look that’s equal parts solemn and sublime.
This time she’s whisking us off to the seaside. Bérangère Fagart is the founder of the restaurant Sélune in Paris, where she’s become known for her culinary creativity just as much as her luminous personality. She’s also big on sustainable cooking, and so this seafood dish should evidently use only scallops fished ethically.
In Victorian times, it was nicknamed the ‘the second city of the British empire’, but in reality was a rather grey and gloomy industrial city. Times have obviously changed and Glasgow has thrown off its industrial identity to become a whole lot more colourful and creative.
These days, France and the UK resemble an old couple, that despite everything, will never separate. There are quarrels that arise that are still irreconcilable. But still, there have been achievements that many people would never have thought possible.
Estérelle Payany initiated us in the art of creating true culinary gold from the leftovers in your fridge. We’ve invited the respected critic and chef to provide another recipe – this time from the UK.
She came from a poor family in Missouri, where she was subject to racial segregation, but found her true home in Paris, where she arrived at just 19 years old. After a long boat trip from New York to Cherbourg, she arrived at the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris aboard a train from Normandy one morning in 1925.
Tucked in the north (relatively speaking) of Sicily, this luminous city is a land of contrasts which will win you over thanks to both its amazing art and architecture, and locals’ laidback way of life. So let’s wander around a little to see what it’s all about.
Estérelle Payany’s palate carries a lot of weight in the culinary world, and while she evidently knows her stuff about restaurants, she’s also a peerless chef whose cookery books are well worth investing in.
Hubris. Six letters that the ancients used to denote a red line that shouldn’t be crossed – unless they wanted to risk angering the Gods. Today hubris corresponds to what you might describe as human folly, a mix of pride and excess that can lead to violent and often outrageous behaviour beyond all imagination.
If you zoom in on Europe, where our company will be operating, the share is roughly the same, with 22 percent of greenhouse gas emissions generated by transport. The situation varies by country and in France, for example, the impact of transport on climate change is even more significant: it is responsible for 30 percent of emissions, making it the most polluting sector of all.
We’re heading off to Barcelona, surely one of the most characterful Mediterranean cities there is. The Catalan capital has long been one of Europe’s most creative, cultural cities, and since the 1980s, it has gradually undergone huge change and become one of European travellers’ favourite destinations.
There are a thousand ways to travel by train. Some see it as a pause, a moment of respite from the daily grind. Others view it as a way to discover the landscapes that file past the window. And then there are those who see an opportunity to work away at something, an idea. The journey becomes their inspiration.
When Consuelo remembered the first time she’d travelled to the USSR, in 1986, and had taken the train for 56 hours. So she called up SNCF to find out whether this train was still running to Moscow. The person on the other end said there was no longer such a service. Consuelo asked why. The only response she got after that was: ‘We have no information for you, because we don’t speak to the Russians.’
Anyone who goes to Moscow will inevitably head straight to Red Square. So many historic events have taken place there that it’s easy to overlook just how old this public square is: it was built in 1480, during the reign of Tsar Ivan III. To the south, the majestic, colourful, almost hypnotic St Basil’s Cathedral looms over the city.
A thoroughly wintry story – one that inspired Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient-Express. On January 1 1934, when she published this legendary thriller, Christie could have had little idea how widely her Hercule Poirot caper would be read.
We’ll be heading to Nice, the dazzling capital of the Côte d’Azur. Or rather, Nissa la Bella, as the proud locals refer to it. And they have good reason to be, their home city being as radiant as it is (and so important inspiration for so many artists past and present). Without further ado, let’s head on a brief tour.
It’s always pretty easy writing about others. Since the launch of Midnight Trains, that’s what I’ve been doing in this newsletter: allowing you to get to know the talented team of individuals who’ve come together to make our sleeper-train company a success.
Alessandra Viscardi and Marco Mattana wanted to stay somewhere near the Med, in a city where they could do what they really excel at: satisfying hearts and stomachs with Italian food that’s as tasty as it is comforting. So they set up shop just around the corner from Nice port, where locals and visitors now flock to their incredible restaurant, Epiro.
The relationship between the French capital and the train is almost as old as the first railway lines. And in fact, very early on, the city set up its own internal train network that still breathes life into the city today – even if it doesn’t have its original function.
Just as the Petite Ceinture was built to improve life for Parisians – and give the French economy a boost – so today the French capital has plans for another big railway project that will better connect the city centre with the surrounding banlieues. Introducing the Grand Paris Express.
While both of the major Portuguese cities have attracted huge numbers of visitors in recent years, many still like to draw contrasts between them. As one common saying has it: ‘Lisboa diverte-se e o Porto trabalha’ (‘Lisbon has fun and Porto works’).
Mauritanian chef Harouna Sow works (when he’s not pursuing charity projects, like cooking several tens of thousands of meals for care workers and poor students during the successive lockdowns). This week he’s also provided us with a spicy vegetarian recipe that makes the ideal remedy to the onset of autumn.
When David Bowie died in 2016, he was celebrated as a musical genius and a rock icon. There was his voice, his songwriting talent, his taste for the avant-garde, his beauty. He got an appropriately huge send-off.
We’ll be taking you to the most convivial of places on board: the restaurant carriage, where you’ll be able to sit down to dine or simply pull up a stool at the bar and drink a glass of natural wine or a homemade cocktail.
This idyllic destination could make a great next trip for you and your loved one: Prague. Such is this city’s beauty that you feel almost like you’ve been whisked off to another planet.
Rambo would have to say about it, but this restaurant is also really committed to promoting sustainable food practices above all. Pull up a chair here, and you won’t have to ask any awkward questions about the provenance of what’s on your plate. And as in the case of the recipe that co-founders Edouard and Benjamin have shared below, the restaurant also makes eliminating food waste a big priority.
A decent meal, and the conviviality it can provide, is one of our musts when it comes to preparing the trains that will allow our passengers to travel all over Europe from our Paris HQ. What can you expect?
Hamburg. Germany’s second city is increasingly giving Berlin a run for its money. But it has a dark past: more than 80 percent of it was destroyed during the Second World War and its reconstruction was slow.
Thierry Roussel is one of the four (fantastic) advisers who are helping our co-founders Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet make the key strategic decisions that’ll allow you to climb aboard our trains from 2024.
We asked a chef to suggest a vegetarian version. Some of you will no doubt be sceptical. Hamburger, after all, is the name of a certain kind of steak originating from Hamburg, served in a brioche bun, which was the classic factory-canteen food of the city’s workers.
This line had two names: Fugleflugtslinjen (in Danish) ou Vogelfluglinie (en German), which both mean the ‘bird flight line’. Something to do with the technical prowess of the train drivers, perhaps?
Cyril Aouizerate, one of the four (fantastic) advisers whose role is to help our co-founders, Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet, make the right strategic choices that will allow you to climb aboard our trains from 2024.
After all, this place is so inspiring that several other cities have tried to brand themselves the Venice of Scandinavia (Stockholm), the North (Bruges), the Middle East (Basra) or even the Languedoc (Sète)?
The ever-innovative Désirée was founded in Paris in 2017, under the aegis of Mathilde Bignon and Audrey Venant. Both very into their flowers, they opened a first, then a second, café-florist – so you can sip coffee surrounded by all manner of brilliant sights and smells.