Travel & Gastronomy

LVMH bets on the Orient-Express

Eva Morletto

By Eva Morletto15 avril 2022

The leading luxury group has just recruited chef Jean Imbert to treat Venice Simplon-Orient-Express passengers

Talented chef Jean Imbert will take over the reins of the Orient-Express kitchens. The Oriental, the Étoile du Nord and the Côte d'Azur, the three carriages intended for gourmet passengers, will thus be brought up to date (Shutterstock)

Everything seems to be going his way for Jean Imbert. The talented young chef has won a first star for his gastronomic restaurant the Plaza Athenée in Paris, he has opened Monsieur Dior and has just announced that he will take over the kitchens of the world's most mythical train: the Orient Express, from the Belmont group. Since 2019, when the LVMH group acquired Belmond, the French luxury empire has been looking to recruit an exceptional chef for this extraordinary train. The group is now banking more than ever on this railway legend, offering new services and new routes, for a renewed image, while drawing on its rich history that began in 1883.

Passengers who have the privilege of sitting in one of the eighteen carriages will be offered the starred chef's menu throughout the journey, from breakfast to a sumptuous dinner, including an aperitif. Jean Imbert did not limit himself to taking charge of the train's three kitchens, he also wanted to rethink and renovate the atmosphere and interiors of the restaurant cars, whose date of birth - 1920 - takes us back to the time of Agatha Christie's novels!

The Oriental, the Étoile du Nord and the Côte d'Azur, the three carriages intended for gourmet passengers, will thus be brought up to date. Among the signature dishes offered will be the famous beef Wellington and the filet of beef en croûte, probably a tribute to the English aristocrats who loved to travel on the Orient Express. Passengers enjoying this exceptional journey from Paris to Istanbul will spend around €20,000 per person. Faster journeys - about two days - also exist and will cost around 4,000 euros per passenger. The first test journeys will take place between the stations of Rome and Paris, and will start on 23 April.

The Belmond group is the largest acquisition of LVMH after Bulgari (the transaction was established at 3.2 billion euros). LVMH is focusing on luxury hotels as a complementary business to its other sectors, targeting "experiential luxury", a trend that is becoming increasingly popular internationally and increasingly in demand by high-end customers. The most powerful groups are competing for this trend. Accor has also acquired several Orient Express trains to counter the monopoly of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express held by LVMH. With an Italian partner - the Arsenale group - Accor will operate six trains from the 1970s, which it will fit out with the help of famous designers such as the Dimore Studio duo, whose luxurious style will be used for the cars of the first two trains, the "Orient Express La Dolce Vita". They will be operational from spring 2023.

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