Some of these mythical train scents are made of leather and wood, others are clad in high-tech materials, but all feature small epics on rails to take you time, cross countries without ever having locker rooms … a luxury to enjoy at low speed.
El Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, Spain. Board the San Sebastian, stop in Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim Museum, and then stroll along the coast, from port to port. From the 14 suites’ wide beds, all of wood and cream leather, or from the restaurant cart where the Spanish chefs follow each other, the 28 passengers watch the landscapes pass by. Before arriving in Santiago de Compostela, they are invited to descend to admire the churches and browse the markets of Santander, Gijón and Viveiro. Free then, for those who feel like returning … on foot! Renfe runs another luxury train, Al Andalus, which takes its guests around Andalusia.
The Royal Scotsman, Scotland. As soon as you board, there is an atmosphere of sophistication. On board this rolling palace, the decoration shines with mahogany in the purest Edwardian style. The dress code requires wearing a tuxedo for men (or even a kilt) and a cocktail dress for women. To better contrast with the landscapes of wild nature that passes, no doubt. Windy heaths, steep hills, calm lakes … But the sweetness reigns inside: After a massage in the spa, we see Scotland in the Cinemascope, around a cup of Earl Gray or a good single malt. And above all, we take our time. vollov.com
Bergensbanen, Norway. Mountains, forests, lakes, fjords … Only one day’s journey, but so many landscapes crossed. The Norwegian railway company bends backwards to cross its long land, in a universe of sharp abysses and snow showers. No sleeping cars here, simple sunbeds, but you should be crazy to travel at night as the landscapes are so spectacular! The Oslo-Bergen line culminates at 1,237 m, leans over gorges and rushing waterfalls and passes through 182 man-made tunnels. At the end of the trail you can hop on a pocket train and walk 200 km down to Flam, a descent known to be the steepest in the world. Ten hours of dizzying tracking shots. vy.no/en
Far East on the Danube Express, Central Europe. The Golden Eagle company, founded in 1989 by the British Tim Littler, drives with its luxurious convoys through the mists of Central Europe, crosses all of Russia, up to the Arctic and pushes on to Beijing, but also enjoys frying in the Balkans and cross Transylvania, cut through Turkey to cross the Iranian border … His Caspian odyssey also takes you to Armenia, to draw you from Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan via Kazakhstan over by the most exotic names and historical treasures of Central Asia. The great adventure. Two weeks, from € 15,000.
Trans-Siberian Express, Russia. It is not possible to speak of mythical trains without mentioning the famous Trans-Siberian, “wonder of modern times”, according to Tsar Alexander II. The literature has told of the patient procession of trees, rivers, disused factories, ice bases; this ” other side of the world Let’s hope one day to be able to board there again to read Blaise Cendrars again while we drink tea from the samovar. You can also choose the luxury version, between Moscow and Vladivostok: fifteen days and 9,288 km stroll and stop between the capital of European Russia and Far Eastern Russia, red velvet sofa version and vodka rivers. goldeneagleluxurytrains.com
The mythical trains in Asia
Qing-Zang, China. It crosses China in almost its entire width. Duration of the journey: more than 47 hours. The train departs from Shanghai, on the east coast of China, and ends its journey in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. A journey of 4,373 km, which passes through the plains of central China before entering the Tibetan mountains. The rails of this iron dragon dance on top of the world »Sometimes reaches 5,072 m in height, making it the highest line in the world. The ticket can be purchased on site.
Eastern and Oriental Express, Asia. Chefs and butlers pamper passengers in a retro setting, between Singapore and Bangkok, via Malaysia and the Kwai River Bridge. The sparkling cars we expect to meet Marlène Dietrich in, filtered out of the Shanghai Express, cross emerald green jungles, rice fields and cities with small flower-covered stations. From the air-conditioned piano bar or sitting in a rattan armchair on the panoramic platform, we see this Southeast Asia from another time pass by while we whistle gin and tonics.
The Seven Stars, Japan. Nicknamed “The Seven Star Train”, JR Kyushu Railways’ Seven Stars crosses the island of Kyushu, one of the most beautiful regions in Japan, in 4 days and 3 nights. The luxury facilities are exclusive, with only 14 suites decorated in a mix of oriental and western style, with bathrooms equipped with… Japanese toilets. The tour includes kaiseki cuisine (small dishes served with extreme sophistication) as well as a night in a ryokan in Kirishima to experience the hot springs. The company also offers a Sweets Train, on board, as sweets and cakes make up the menus! cruisetrain-sevenstars.jp/english
Deccan Odyssey, India. Floods of cream silk clothe the windows, a colorful rug suffocates the steps of turbaned servants carrying dishes fragrant with a thousand spices … The decoration of the cabins, the bar fuchsia armchairs, the neon lights in the spa car (with sauna) and small gym) recalls the palaces of the 1950s in the Satyajit Ray cinema and invites you to lazily dive into the India of the Maharajas. The long convoy of 21 cars travels through northern India, across several circuits. The most classic covers, in eight days and as many stops, the cities of Rajasthan, with waves of music and elephants at each stopover. deccan-odyssey-india.com
Africa and America
Africa’s pride, South Africa. It all started in 1985, when a South African businessman, Rohan Vos (hence the name Rovos Rail), passionate about mechanical engineering, bought two carriages to connect them to a steam train for private use. Four years later, he launched his own railroad company. It is now one of the most luxurious in the world, with carriages that are mostly genuine collectibles, renovated in a classic Victorian style. His most incredible journey takes 14 days to go from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, on the edge of the Indian Ocean through Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. A formidable migration interrupted by photo safaris, nights at the edge of the famous Victoria Falls, helicopter or elephant rides, through deserts and reserves. A journey of a lifetime.
The Rocky Mountaineer, Canada. From Calgary to Vancouver or from Whistler to Jasper it is impossible to remove the eyes from this exaggerated nature. Luxurious and nonchalant, Rocky Mountaineer weaves its way through the lavish Canadian Rockies. To have fun and enjoy the best views, an entry into the Gold Leaf carriages is a must. We discover a luxurious environment, glass ceilings in the form of domes and huge windows. ” Don’t worry: we wash the windows with plenty of water between each trip! joker Rocky Mountaineer website, which promises you to spend the trip with your nose glued to the bay window to greet eagles, bears and sheep. rockymountaineer.com
The Coast Starlight, California. Crossing three states in 35 hours, Coast Starlight departs from Seattle to reach the largest cities on the west coast, passing through the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Mountains and then along the Pacific Ocean to reach Los Angeles. If the traveler manages to take his eyes off the windows of this double-decker train, he will have plenty of time to enjoy plenty of entertainment on board: elegant dinners, wine and cheese tastings and even excursions to the theater – the train has its own theater room. Vancouver, Salem, Sacramento, Santa Barbara … The list of stages alone makes you dream. amtrak.com
Hiram Bingham, Peru. Named after the famous American explorer who took the credit for discovering the Inca city of Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham takes his passengers on a journey through the Peruvian Andes, from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Its famous blue and gold cars are reminiscent of the finest hours of luxurious Pullman cars, between brass and polished wood. The observation car, decorated with enveloping upholstered seats and decorated with woodwork, exudes an atmosphere of luxury in contrast to the wild nature that parades before your eyes. The slow development towards the Inca citadel crosses steep landscapes dug by tumultuous rivers, totally hypnotic. A short but intense experience.
Two legendary trains in Australia
Indian Pacific Ocean, Australia. This transcontinental train connects the Pacific Ocean with the Indian Ocean and crosses a sea of a completely different kind, red this: the Australian desert. However, this long journey is far from monotonous. The line runs along the famous Blue Mountains, which owe their name to the bluish reflections of the essence that escape the eucalyptus trees, stopping at Broken Hill or at Kalgoorlie, silver and gold mines … Past Adelaide then begins the great plain, dry. Nullarbor, or Oondiri for the Aborigines, in other words “without water”. This is also where you can drive the longest straight line in the world: 297 miles or 478 km! journeybeyondrail.com.au
Ghana, Australia. The Ghana has nothing to envy its big brother, the Indian Pacific. This essential railway artery in Australia on the north-south axis owes its name to the many Afghan cameles who helped build it. The course takes place over 15,000 km of enemy land between Alice Springs and Darwin, and crosses the vast expanses of the Outback. An epic three-day journey through the heart of the spectacular images of the Australian bush: ocher and withered tracks as far as the eye can see, under a penetrating blue sky and a crushing sun. The comfort contrasts with the Dante conditions prevailing outside in the desert. journeybeyondrail.com.au