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L'Observatoire, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train, Europe; credit - JRIn an era of rapid technological advancements, one train harks back to the golden age of rail travel while steering into the future with visionary creativity. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, synonymous with opulence and timeless travel, has announced a groundbreaking addition to its fleet: L’Observatoire. This new sleeper carriage, designed by the internationally celebrated artist JR, is set to redefine luxury train travel.

JR in L'Observatoire Venice Simplon-Orient-Express A Belmond Train Europe; credit - JR

JR in L’Observatoire Venice Simplon-Orient-Express A Belmond Train Europe; credit – JR

Scheduled to join the prestigious line-up in 2025, L’Observatoire is not just a mode of transportation but an immersive artwork. The concept, derived from JR’s childhood fascination with trains and his illustrious career in transformative art, integrates a personal studio vibe with the grandeur of historical crafts and the explorative spirit of Renaissance observatories. This carriage transforms the concept of travel by encouraging passengers to live within a moving piece of art, making each journey an unparalleled narrative of discovery and luxury.

“Entering L’Observatoire is like walking into a living dream,” says JR, whose designs feature whimsical shapes, rounded corners, and circular windows, creating snug daydreaming nooks. “It’s about crafting spaces that invite wonder and introspection, much like the studios where artists conjure worlds.”

The interior of L’Observatoire is a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship synonymous with the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The carriage boasts a bedroom with a double bed, an en-suite bathroom, and a lounge that doubles as a library curated by famed French publisher Gallimard. Perhaps most intriguing is the secret tea room with a functional fireplace, which promises serenity and warmth as Europe’s landscapes collide.

JR on L'Observatoire Venice Simplon-Orient-Express A Belmond Train Europe; credit - JR

JR on L’Observatoire Venice Simplon-Orient-Express A Belmond Train Europe; credit – JR

JR’s design philosophy extends beyond aesthetics, embedding layers of interactive elements throughout the carriage. “My aim was to embed secrets waiting to be uncovered, similar to the hidden messages in Renaissance art, which offer more with each viewing,” explains JR. This approach ensures that the journey aboard L’Observatoire is as much about exploring the carriage as it is about observing the changing vistas outside.

The carriage is a nod to the train’s storied past, with each component lovingly restored or recreated to echo the lavish Art Deco style that characterized the original 1920s and 1930s carriages. Renowned designers of the past, like René Prou and René Lalique, have their legacies preserved and celebrated in modern iterations like L’Observatoire, seamlessly blending history with contemporary artistry.

Gary Franklin, Vice President of Trains & Cruises at Belmond, shares his excitement about this innovative project: “Collaborating with JR has been a revelation. His vision aligns perfectly with our philosophy of delivering extraordinary travel experiences. L’Observatoire is more than just a carriage; it’s a milestone in our journey to push the boundaries of luxury travel.”

As the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express continues to enchant travellers with its blend of historic grandeur and cutting-edge design, L’Observatoire promises to be its crown jewel. This initiative celebrates the artistic and adventurous spirit and marks a significant moment in the evolution of luxury rail travel.

Prospective travellers can visit the official Venice Simplon-Orient-Express website to experience the magic of JR’s L’Observatoire and for booking inquiries. As 2025 approaches, the anticipation for this monumental addition grows, promising a journey that transcends the mere act of travel to become a profound artistic pilgrimage.




Written by: My Thanh Pham