Thursday, 28 August 2014



Jumping on the Moscow-Nice train for a historical and timeless journey

Posted: 28 Aug 2014 06:14 AM PDT

Photo of a train at Moscow's Yaroslavsky Station.
A train at Moscow's Yaroslavsky Station. © Maksim Blinov, RIA Novosti

All year round, about 10,000 visitors follow in the footsteps of Gogol, Tyutchev and Chekhov and board the Riviera Express for a 50 hour journey dropping them in sunny and fashionable Cote d'Azur.

The Moscow-Nice train covers 3,318 kilometres in 50 hours and 23 minutes - the longest train ride across Europe carries up to 140 passengers, leaves Moscow every Thursday, and arrives at Nice train station on Saturday morning. This beautiful and scenic train route crosses seven countries and recently added Monaco as one of its stops.

Russian cultural roots in Southern France

Needless to say, the Riviera Express has nothing to do with a random journey to get its passengers from point A to point B. In fact, some may see it as an introduction to the mythic Trans-Siberian.

However, beyond the unique train experience lie long-lasting cultural ties between Russia and South-Eastern Provence that many people are not aware of. For instance, Saint-Nicolas Russian Orthodox Church is among the most visited historical monuments of Provence, if not the most visited one. And just a few decades ago, local secondary and high school students were taught Russian at the Parc Imperial, often as their first foreign language.

Actually, before it became a school, the Parc Imperial used to be a prestigious hotel often frequented by Russian aristocracy, after a wealthy landlord bought most of the Bermond domain. This name might ring a bell to Russophiles since the Russian Tsarist family used to visit this domain regularly between the 1860s and 1890s. 

The Russian presence, dating back to the middle of the 19th century, explains the Russian influence in architecture that one can observe when exploring Nice.    

Boosting the real estate economy 

In the days of the tsars, aristocrats from the Russian Empire would take luxury trains to enjoy their summer residences along the Riviera coastline. Now, the Southern-French region attracts a new generation of Russians including successful entrepreneurs and other hopefuls for a piece of prime real estate on the Cote d'Azur. In this regard, Cannes has increasingly seen middle class Russian citizens falling for the region, making sure to have a home base for romantic short weekends or longer stays.

Local French real estate professionals appreciate their Russian clientele knowing that the investors are often eager to swiftly conclude the deals for quality property. Beautiful landscapes and climate aside, one particular attractiveness of this destination is certainly linked to Russia's past: Tsarevitch Nicolas and his fiancée Marie-Dagmar got engaged in Nice 150 years ago.

Does this train journey look appealing to you? Would you like to know more about the cultural heritage shared by France and Russia?  

User Rated: 
No votes yet