One of the best exhibits I saw while I was in Paris, Il était une fois l’Orient Express, is only on until the end of August. The exhibit celebrates the connection between the mythic train, literature and cinema, and the opening of the East to European travelers. From the time I read Agatha Christie’s Murder of the Orient Express, I’ve wanted to take the train from Paris to Istanbul. Parked in front of the Institut du Monde Arabe near the Seine are four authentic wagons from the train. They have created mises en scène (meez ahn sen), or settings, that make it seem as though the people who glided from country to country while ensconced in luxury have just stepped away for a moment to let you have a peek at their life.
After having visited the train cars, the exhibit continues inside the Institut du Monde Arabe with a multimedia presentation of the history of the Orient Express. First rolling in 1883, the legendary train pulled into its final station in 2007. One of the stories that I loved was what happened during the first press junket. Armed bandits in eastern Europe held the reporters on the train hostage until they were ransomed! The beautiful Art Deco detailing in the Lalique glass insets in the wood paneling, the travel posters, and the film footage of the many movies that were set on the Orient Express helped me feel some of the magic of being on board.
If your budget can handle it, you can also dine aboard. Multi-course menus at 120€ and 160€ are inspired by each of the countries in the train’s itinerary. I think that would be a fabulous way to celebrate a special event.