Wagons lits paris

During a visit to the United States in 1872 and inspired by the achievements of the Pullman brothers, Georges Nagelmackers decides to create the “Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits” (CIWL).
Nagelmackers, a 27 year old Belgian, has a brilliant idea to beat Pullman at capturing the European market. His trains will not only be the most comfortable and the most luxurious, but they will cheerfully cross the entire European borders.
In 1884, the company becomes “Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et des Grands Express Européens”.
In 1886, he obtains the organization of official journeys of the French Republic and most European Royal Courts. The Compagnie is renowned over the world by its golden logotype, the two lions holding the intertwined ” WL “.
Then the golden age of Wagons-Lits follows. This is a period of prosperity during which the legend develops, a mixture of human adventures in a luxurious environment with exceptional technological performance. Every year, a new train travels to a new destination across Europe, Asia or the Middle East, each bearing a name that will become a legend in its own right: Orient- Express, Train Bleu, Golden Arrow, Transsiberien. One century later, the legend is still alive.
In 1914 the Compagnie has its first serious obstacle, during the Great War, the coaches are requisitioned…but the traffic starts again after the end of hostilities.
In 1918 the Bolshevik government nationalizes the properties of Compagnie des Wagons-Lits in Russia (161 sleeping cars, workshop, hotels..).
In 1920 the trains reach incomparable luxury and comfort and in 1922, blue and gold become (and still are) the two official colors of the Company.
During the 30’s, more than 4000 CIWL carriages travel daily across Europe, hundreds of travel agencies are opened. Compagnie des Wagons-Lits is present in more than 60 countries.
Then CIWL breaks into the Anglo-Saxon markets by taking over the famous Cook Travel Company, becoming the world leader in travel agencies.

After World War Two, La Compagnie des Wagons-Lits gradually expands into new markets and soon becomes a world leader in the hotel business, travel agencies and catering.

In 1967, the name changes and the company becomes ” Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et du Tourisme ” (CIWLT), reflecting the evolution of its activities.

In 1990 Paul Dubrule and Gérard Pélisson, founders and general managers of Group Accor become interested in “Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et du Tourisme”.
Sensitive to the fact that its activities are well positioned in the world of leisure and luxury, they decide to acquire the legendary Compagnie. Thus, the Compagnie joins the world leader in hotels and tourism.
Today, based in Paris, Wagons-Lits Diffusion, through its collections and gift catalogs, is entirely dedicated to renewing this tradition of luxury and dreams, making it available to a public who are more than ever curious and fascinated by the legend of the Belle Epoque and Luxury Express Trains.
1883 : Orient-Express
1887 : Sud Express
1890 : Bombay Express
1890 : Peninsular and Oriental Express
1890 : Malle des Indes
1890 : Rome Express
1894 : Ostende Vienne Express
1896 : Vienne Nice Express
1898 : Le Caire Louxor Express
1898 : Transsibérien
1900 : Riviera Express
1900 : Transatlantique Express
1904 : Oberland Leman Express
1908 : Rome Florence Cannes Express
1909 : Andalousie Express
1919 : Paris Prague Express
1919 : Simplon Orient Express
1921 : Transmandchourien Express
1922 : Train Bleu
1926 : Flèche d’or (Golden Arrow)
1927 : L’Etoile du Nord
1927 : Londres Vichy Pullman Express
1929 : Oiseau Bleu
1929 : Côte d’Azur rapide
1929 : Star of Egypt
1929 : Taurus Express
1929 : Sunshine Pullman Express
1931 : Golden Mountain Express
1940 : Maroc Express
Many CIWL Express trains are still associated to a specific fantasy. The Blue Train is remembered for being the most glamorous Express, the Golden Arrow for being the most luxurious daily Express, the Transsiberian for having created the most amazing human adventure, the North-Express for being the fastest Express and the Orient-Express remains CIWL’s most famous train.
The Orient-Express is more than an extraordinary means of transportation. It still reflects all of our fantasies, and epitomizes the ultimate combination of luxury, mystery and adventure. Think of the following dates and events in what was then the most luxurious microcosm in the western world:
 1883 : Departure of the first Express d’Orient from Paris to Constantinople (Istanbul). The trip actually includes a boat transfer form Varna to Constantinople. This is the very first official Express train from Compagnie des Wagons-Lits. Passengers are recommended to carry guns and riffles, just in case…
 1889 : Departure of the first Express d’Orient, from Paris to Constantinople, without changing train. The trip lasts about 70 hours. Major cities traveled through are Strasbourg, Munich, Vienna, Budapest and Bucarest.
 1891 : The train name officially becomes the Orient-Express
 1891 : The train is ambushed by looters. They will get away with £120.000 (including a ransom for 5 hostages).
 1892 : The train is quarantined due to a cholera epidemic on board.
 1894 : Compagnie des Wagons-Lits opens a luxury hotel in Constantinople for the Orient-Express passengers, the famous Pera Palace where Agatha Christie’s room can still be visited.
 1906 : The Simplon Express line is created after the opening of the Simplon tunnel.
 1914 : Due to WW1, the Orient-Express ceases operating and the carriages are requisitioned by the Germans.
 1917 : An Orient-Express frequent traveler, Mata Hari is convinced of spying for Germany and is put to death by French army.
 1919 : The Simplon Orient-Express line is reopened. It will eventually travel through Switzelrand, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Turkey.
 1921 : The original Orient-Express line is reopened.
 1924 : The Arlberg Orient-Express line, traveling through Switzerland starts.
 1929 : The Orient-Express is blocked by snow in Turkey. Passengers will have to chase and eat wolves to survive. The final delay will be 5 days. A record that has still to be broken and that will inspire Agatha Christie for her best selling novel “Murder on the Orient-Express”.
 1930 : The Taurus Express line, going to Teheran, Bagdad, and Cairo, is opened. It will eventually reach Bombay in India.
 1931 : the Orient-Express is attacked by terrorists: 20 people are killed.
 1939 : During WW2, most of the operations are stopped.
 1945 : The lines are reopened
 1962 : End of the Simplon Orient-Express line and creation of the Direct Orient-Express. Little by little the luxury Express traffic will diminish.
 1977 : End of the Direct-Orient.
Some of the numerous books and films that take stage on board the Orient-Express :
Maurice Dekobra writes “La Madone des Sleepings”
Graham Green writes “Orient-Express” in 1932
Agatha Christie writes “Murder on the Orient-Express” in 1934
Hitchcock with “A Lady vanishes” in 1938, performs the first major movie on board the Orient-Express
James Bond is on board the Orient-Express in “From Russia with Love” (1963)
Sidney Lumet famous “Murder on the Orient-Express” was filmed in 1974
Sherlock Holmes is a cocaine addict with “The Seven per Cent Solution” in 1979

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