The Orient Express, a luxury train service connecting Paris to Constantinople, was the figurehead of the Belle Époque, and remained closely connected to European history throughout the 20th century. The world’s most famous train gained an aura of thrilling intrigue—partly thanks to popular books and movies.
It was not only fiction, though: real artists and spies did travel by Orient Express and some actual murders did take place.
The first official Orient Express left Paris on October 4, 1883. Around 30 people were invited for the inauguration: officials, diplomats, journalists and railway directors. The host was Georges Nagelmackers, founder of the Wagons-Lits company. In 1868 the young Belgian banker’s son had traveled the US by Pullman sleeper and saw a gap in the European market.
After several experiments he reached an agreement with…