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.
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.
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.
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.
That’s the subject of our final instalment: materials and colours. Last time, we made a lot of references to the fact that senses are all-important when it comes to the impression we want to give passengers: the way things look and feel (or even smell) is key.
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).
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.
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.
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.
We’re moving onto the next stage: how to go about integrating all the functional and technical elements required on board. We’re going to imagine the practical needs of passengers on our trains, the potential points of friction, and attempt to offer some solutions too.
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.
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.
After a first season dedicated to how you go about buying trains, this time we are exploring how to design trains, in five main instalments (though no doubt we will return to the subject, since design will play such a huge part in our mission to reinvent the sleeper train).
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.
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.
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.
We’re going to make sure that inventory fits within the limited space of the train, assuring both comfort and optimal use of square footage, in order to define the layout of the carriages.
Before going about buying trains, there are a number of key steps related to design that are essential because they’ll allow you to analyse the compatibility of the material as it is and to work out the costs of renovation, or to prepare the list of costs once you’ve consulted with manufacturers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)?
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?
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.
The nineteenth century was the period when the railways really got going. Politics, economics and a general ambition to spread influence all over the continent – all combined to accelerate technological progress and led to the development of rail lines across Europe.
Our sleeper trains will offer a new cross-border travel experience all the way across the continent. So how could we not stop off in Brussels, that city that appears very much like the capital of the European Union (if there were such a thing)?
Franck Gervais is one of the four (fantastic) advisers whose role is to help co-founders Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet make the key strategic decisions that will allow you to climb aboard our trains from 2024.
Take a gastronomic journey with the respected chef Sugio Yamaguchi, who takes as his aim the exploration of produce; going as off the beaten track as possible. That makes sense for this Tokyo local who plied his trade in Lyon initially, before really making his name at Botanique (Paris) over several years.
Odile Fagot is one of our four advisers, whose role is to aid our co-founders, Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet, on their strategic decisions – ones that should allow you to climb aboard our trains from 2024.
Marseille is a city of contrasts, and to really get a feel for it, it’s best to properly spend some time there – an extended holiday, say, rather than a flying visit.
Did you know that each year, people in France have the right to savings of between 25 to 50 percent on a return train in France for them, their partner and their children?
As brilliant as he is modest, Christian Qui was the winner of the Fooding’s ‘Meilleure Table’ prize in 2021. And it was in Goudes, a part of Marseille that looks uncannily like a Corsican village, that he made his name.
Still today, the Orient-Express is the sleeper train that people all over the world are likely to be able to name. And while we have all probably heard our own stories and anecdotes about this mythical service, we want to tell you a bit about a side of its history that’s little known to most: the love affairs it has provided cover for.
Even if you don’t think you know him, Yorgo Tloupas is one of those people you may well have bumped into, at one time or another. Look around you: it’s very possible that the fruit of his imagination is lying right in front of you.
Just like the banks of the Bosphorus strait, which appear to face off against each other (or embrace, depending which way you look at it), Istanbul is one of the most symbolic meeting-points between Europe and Asia.
This recipe is from none other than Ai Loan Dupuis, the brilliant mind behind Sezono (season in esperanto), the restaurant-cum-market-cum-deli in Paris’s 10th arrondissement.
Its unique blend of history and modernity, pride and conviviality, lends Edinburgh a very particular, almost magical air. The castle is no doubt the most iconic landmark in the city, and its turbulent history closely matches that of this fiercely independent nation as a whole.
Another excellent dish by the chef, who’s widely considered one of the world’s greatest Italian cooks. This recipe was conceived as a morning-after remedy, if you’ve gone a little hard on a night out. That’s why it’s called ‘midnight spaghetti’.
We’ve now come to what is probably the juiciest subject of the lot: how do you finance all this stuff? When you’re a newcomer in the rail sector, there are two possibilities.
Before exploring one of the most beautiful Celtic nations in the world, we’ll be kicking off this edition of Midnight Weekly in a train station much further south – Porto’s São Bento. And we’ll say this straight off the bat: this is one of the most beautiful stations in the world.
We are going to be travelling through the Pyrénées, not far from the Franco-Spanish border. To be precise, we’ll be stopping off at the international train station in Canfranc, which is often referred to as the Flying Dutchman of the railways.
Lisbon is another one of the destinations our trains will take you to (and we’re actually a little embarrassed it’s taken us this long to pay homage to this beautiful city). For a long time its charms were unfairly overlooked, but over the past decade or so, this city has become one of Europe’s most exciting metropolises.
Having explained last week how and why a new rail operator might go about purchasing used material, this week we’ll be focusing on new equipment – both its advantages and disadvantages.
Because you can never get too much of a good thing when it comes to food. We’re delighted to share with you a recipe from the repertoire of new-gen Parisian chef Charles Compagnon.
We take you behind the scenes of Midnight Trains HQ. And so why not start from the very top? Right now we’re going to explain how exactly we’re going about buying our trains.
Welcome to the Eternal City: Rome is one of those rare places pretty much every visitor wants to return again and again to. And with all roads famously leading there, that seems pretty fortunate.
He’s undoubtedly the most acclaimed Roman chef in the world. Giovanni Passerini has done us the honour of sharing one of his favourite recipes. On the menu? Gricia, a true classic of Roman cooking. Buon appetito!
A train pulls into the station, the sky a radiant hue, before steadily slowing down and stopping. So far, so normal: passengers descend from the carriages; others climb aboard. Nothing really extraordinary happens. But actually, it did.
There are a handful of stories from the time still well worth sharing. One pretty much guaranteed to make you smile is the one known as the tale of the Tsar’s finger.
Chef Alexia Duchêne shares a brilliantly simple way to use up that halloumi you’ve got at the back of the fridge. A semi-healthy summer pick-me-up for two people.
What better than a quick stop in Stockholm to continue taking things at your own pace, to the rhythm of the waters that irrigate every corner of the Swedish capital?
Moving fast, running has become a way to reassure us we are really living. But within this infinite rush, is it still possible to find the distance necessary to define what’s really indispensable for us to feel fulfilled?
The recipe is the work of Angèle Ferreux-Maeght, whose restaurant La Guinguette d’Angèle (Paris) places an emphasis on seasonal and well-sourced produce.
It would be pretty difficult for a company aiming for its trains to whisk travellers across Europe all night long not to look at what’s happening in the Land of the Rising Sun right now.
In the Austrian capital, one of the best examples must be the huge, gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral, right opposite the Haas Haus, a postmodern building by architect Hans Hollein.
Here at Midnight Trains, we’re aiming to offer passengers an unforgettable experience on-board our services. To let you in on the key ideas that inspire us, we asked Yorgo Tloupas, our creative director, to share his vision for the brand.
It’s no surprise the city was chosen as the host of the last Exposition Universelle in 2015 and that it will be hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2026.
A recipe that makes the perfect summer weeknight dinner. At Erba Brusca, where she has her own herb garden, the chef Alice Delcourt cooks up exquisite dishes that always chime with Wendell Berry’s famous mantra, ‘eating is an agricultural act’.
We’re getting closer to our arrival in Milan, and so what better way in than to climb aboard another train – one of those run by the company Italo. This private railway firm was the first business in Europe to specialise in high-speed rail travel.