How a train driver handles the real mystery of the Orient Express

(CNN) – Arthur Mettetal, a French train lover, was watching a video on YouTube when he saw some train cars parked in the corner of the photo.

The cars are painted in a different blue hue combined with the Orient Express, the long-distance trans-European railway that is famous for its 20th century travel glamor.

Mettetal is not a train driver, he is working on a PhD in the history of the Orient Express. His research was to try to find out how many Orient Express trains still exist today, where they came from, who they were and what they were like.

He noticed that there were some wine carts in service – such as the ones on the Belmond Orient Express – and others on display at the museums. But he thought most of the cars were scattered around the world, forget it.

Mettetal spent most of 2015 searching for these abandoned cars, scrolling through archives, talking to train drivers on notice boards and meeting with web videos. Every now and then, he sees a clue like the blue cars in the YouTube video.

Mettetal paused in the video and looked closer at the image. The video was uploaded anonymously and not much is known about it. But you can see the name of the center in the picture: Małaszewicze.

Through Google, Mettetal found that there are places in Poland called Małaszewicze. He looked at each location on Google Maps, changing the 3D view and zooming in, looking for different blue cars with their white houses.

Then, bingo, he found what he was looking for: a 13 -car train known as the Orient Express, parked at the Małaszewicze station on the border between Poland and Belarus.

Speaking to CNN Travel today, Mettetal said it was a “magical” time.

“Thirteen cars in one go!” breaking. “It’s like seeing a treasure.”

Following the train

Arthur Mettetal first saw the Orient Express cars while doing online research.

Arthur Mettetal first saw the Orient Express cars while doing online research.

Xavier Antoinet

While seeing the train on Google was an “amazing idea,” Mettetal tried to navigate his thoughts, not sure why the cars were there, what position they were in, and if they have been moved since the satellite image was taken.

So he went to Małaszewicze to take a closer look at them.

Mettetal said he will never forget his visit to the Polish border, a later photographer.

“After driving for hours to get to where we thought we would get the train, we arrived overnight at a strong border crossing,” Mettetal said.

Not only was it dark, the land was covered with snow. But the two men could see the blue cars. They published on their page “Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express,” the name of a private car company in the 1970s that used the first Orient Express cars to take flights from Paris to Istanbul. Mettetal and his partner were overjoyed.

“It’s an inexplicable concept. We’re looking at the object of our research, the train that we saw through Google 3D imagery,” Mettetal recalled.

Because they were at the border, Mettetal and the photographer were immediately told to leave by police. The two returned the next morning, followed by a translator and Guillaume de Saint Lager, vice president of Accor’s Orient Express offshoot, and also enjoyed watching the train.

According to Mettetal, traveling in trains is a lot of fun.

According to Mettetal, traveling in trains is a lot of fun.

Xavier Antoinet

When the sun came up, the group surrounded the cars. Mettetal believes they belonged to the 1920s and 30s and lived there, dormant, for at least ten years.

According to Mettetal, looking in cars is a “perfect time for a writer.”

“All the decorations are fixed and it seems like time has stopped,” he said, adding that “there is almost no damage, the wear and tear of the moment.”

Of the 13 cars, nine sleep luxury cars.

“Then we spent two full days documenting all the cars in and out of the cars while we continued our research into their history and the reasons they were stationed there. , “Mettetal said.

Edit and restore

The train stations are being redesigned by French artist Maxime d’Angeac.

The train stations are being redesigned by French artist Maxime d’Angeac.

Xavier Antoinet

Over the next two years, Accor’s Orient Express was looking for the owner of the Małaszewicze cars. They had four more cars parked in other countries, including Germany and Switzerland. Accor negotiated a sale for 17 cars, including 12 bedroom cars, a restaurant, three restrooms and one car. The cars were taken by police between Europe and France.

Fast forward to today and the Accor’s Orient Express team has major plans for the newly discovered cars. The goal is to have cars on the route from Paris to Istanbul from 2024, a new version of the Nostalgie Istanbul Orient Express.

The cars are being re -edited by Parisian author Maxime d’Angeac, who told CNN Travel that the “one in a lifetime” program means “you can’t deny it.”

The cars are set to take more passengers from 2024.

The cars are set to take more passengers from 2024.

Xavier Antoinet

The cars feature Art Deco marquetry panels by British designers Morrison and Nelson, and glass panels by French designer René Lalique. The first time d’Angeac saw the contents, he said he thought it was a “real idea.”

D’Angeac notes that the first Orient Express was known in its time as a high level of elegance, comfort and design. He wanted cars that were repaired to live up to that fame.

“Accor’s goal is to bring back and rebuild a diverse range of history, history, and the availability of an independent train,” he said.

Rearranging old cars isn’t easy, says d’Angeac, which has a smaller interior than newcomers might think. Historical properties need to be preserved, but they need to be combined with new conveniences and security.

New technologies and techniques will be used if necessary, but d’Angeac believes travelers will not see the touch of the 21st century.

“We have to work all the time,” d’Angeac said.

For Mettetal, he completed his PhD, but was continued by the Orient Express, which is the cars he follows on YouTube. He is also the heritage and culture manager of Accor’s Orient Express.

“These cars have an important history, from their construction in the 1920s until they were rediscovered,” Mettetal said. “It’s really exciting to go back to their entire journey, countries and cities over the years.”

Photo credit: Xavier Antoinet

Photo credit: Xavier Antoinet

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