Master Patissier Eric Lanlard loves travelling the world by train. He has seen the sunrise over the Peruvian Andes and watched lions and giraffes roam free in South Africa as he travels by train
What’s been your favourite rail journey?
My favourite train trip has to be the journey I took in Peru in 2018 for my 50th birthday on the Belmond Andean Explorer. It was the perfect way to celebrate my milestone birthday and as I was accompanied by my best friends, the journey was even more special. The four-day journey gives travellers plenty of opportunity to discover many sides of the country from Lake Titicaca to the snowy tops of the Andes.
What made the trip so fantastic?
I first visited Peru many years ago during my National Service in the French Navy. At that time, I didn’t have a chance to explore as I was working so a proper holiday in this amazing country was always on my bucket list. I read about the newly launched Belmond Andean Explorer and instantly wanted to go on board. The train is gorgeous – it has been completely refurbished and designed with modern Peruvian style.
All the cabins are en-suites and the all overall feel is relaxed, yet still very glamourous and really special. The customer service and attention to detail was incredible. From making sure your favourite tipple was on board to the amazing food served at every meal. My bespoke trip was organised by Blue Marble Private who sorted out every detail of the holiday and it was a truly magical experience.
What were the highlights of your journey?
I will never forget waking up on the quayside of Lake Titicaca for sunrise with a massive bonfire and hot chocolate. We also stopped in the middle of nowhere on the top of the snowy peaks of the Andes and were able to jump out of the carriage to look at the stunning stars.
Have you ever travelled by train overnight?
Yes, I travelled overnight on the original Orient Express from Venice to London. It was an amazing experience. There was so much movement and noise each time you arrive at a different country or station. But that was part of the charm and I loved it. My best sleepover on a train was on South Africa’s Blue Train – there is an actual bath in your en-suite!
Can you remember your first ever train journey?
In true typical French style, my family made the use of the great French railway network and we would travel across France sometimes overnight in a sleeper train to go skiing or on our summer holidays. It was fun but not as glamourous as the Belmond Train. We had to share bunk beds and cabins with strangers and there was hardly any catering or toilet facilities. As a child you don’t mind that.
Where would you like to travel to by rail?
I would love to go to Asia and I am already booked on the Belmond Eastern & Oriental Express for Christmas 2021.
Which train companies do you think serve the best food on board?
The food on the Belmond Andean Explorer was amazing but the food onboard the Orient Express was out of this world. To this day I still can’t believe they can serve such a high standard of food on a moving train. I vividly remember our early arrival in Paris and all the suppliers waiting with live lobsters, freshly baked bread and colourful vegetables ready for our farewell lunch onboard before heading across the Channel.
Who is your ideal travelling companion on a rail journey?
My partner-in-crime Paul. We do everything together and are both typical Taureans, loving everything that is beautiful.
Are there any train trips you’d still like to take?
What’s the best thing about taking a train journey?
Train journeys are so peaceful. As soon as you leave the station you have no choice but just to relax and enjoy the scenery and watch the world go by until you reach your destination.
What do you always take with you on a train journey?
Some good books or travel magazines to get inspiration for my next adventure and personal items like a photo in a picture frame or travel candles to make my cabin smell homely.
What’s your best memory of travelling by train?
Sitting in the observation carriage of the Blue Train sipping the finest Simonsig, South African sparkling wine and watching the sun going down as we travelled through the African Bush surrounded by giraffes, antelopes, lions and rhinos – I still dream about it.
See more of Eric Lanlard on twitter @eric-lanlard