130 years ago, on 5 June 1883, the first ‘Express d’Orient’ left Paris for Vienna. The original route, which first ran on 4 October 1883 was from Paris, Gare de l’Est, to Giurgiu in Romania via Munich and Vienna. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube to Ruse, Bulgaria to pick up another train to Varna, from where they completed their journey to Istanbul (then called Constantinople) by ferry.
In popular culture, the rich history of the Orient Express has frequently lent itself to the plot of books and films and as the subject of television documentaries.
Among other cultural references, an advertisement made in 2009 by the luxury brand Chanel, featuring the French actress Audrey Tautou in a fateful love story on board the Orient Express between Paris and Istanbul gave a glamorous image of this mythical railway link. The story manages to allude to the universe and era of Gabrielle Chanel in a number of indirect ways by situating the narrative on the Orient-Express with its Art Deco aesthetics.