Deutsche Bahn’s ICE First Class product offers a relatively mediocre experience compared to its European competitors, particularly in terms of hard product.
Always curious to try out new things, I took advantage of my trip to Strasbourg to try out Deutsche Bahn, which, like SNCF, serves the Paris-Strasbourg line in the same way as Trenitalia does between Paris and Lyon. Hopefully, the surprise will be just as good.
I booked more than a month before my departure for €278 return in first class. It’s really expensive, but the SNCF didn’t offer anything better for this busy weekend in the stations.
Arrival at the station and boarding
I arrive at Gare de l’Est well ahead of schedule.
There are few people around on this Friday morning, but it’s this afternoon that the weekend departures will really pick up.
My train is clearly indicated on the departure board.
You’d expect Paris to be connected to Frankfurt, but that’s not the case, at least not with this train. This ICE will go to Stuttgart via Karlshrue.
Our train is already at the platform and we’re waiting for the announcement to start boarding.
It’ll be done on time and I’ll be one of the first to get into my car.
The Deutsche Bahn ICE cabin
So I get into my First Class car.
First impression: sober, with dark leather seats and a 1-2 configuration.
A bit like discovering Lufthansa’s medium-haul business class cabin. At least in the beginning.
On the other hand, I’m not at all a fan of the faux-wood center table, which looks dated in my opinion and is not in the best taste.
This is my solo seat.
Also available in face-to-face configuration with this ugly table.
And here’s what the duo configuration looks like.
As I settle in, my first impression is confirmed: these seats are not wide at all, and are so far apart that the cabin looks empty. Worse still, it removes any form of privacy: all viewing angles are well clear.
The pitch is very acceptable and even comfortable.
The tablet is a good size, but logically lacks width.
I’m not going to beat around the bush: this product looks very cheap for first class. The seats are cramped, moderately comfortable, and don’t provide the level of isolation found elsewhere, SNCF included.
As for the atmosphere in the cabin, don’t expect to find the hushed ambience you’d find in the first class seat of a TGV. More like a regional train at rush hour. I don’t know if it’s due to the product itself, to people’s behavior, or if the product creates the behavior, but I’ve never felt like I was in first class. It’s not even worth 2nd class on a TGV. To tell you the truth, even my TER between Paris and Rouen left me with a better impression!
Very very disappointing.
We’ll be leaving on time without any announcement.
One last point: the wifi portal is only available in German.
Deutsche Bahn offers a “buy on board” service with no service at the seat, so there’s nothing specific for first class.
Here’s the menu, which is only available in German and partially in English.
There are light snacks, dishes, menus… of course, you’ll have to like German food, but on the face of it, it looks nice.
So I’ll get something to eat in the restaurant car during the trip. The style is really old school, with those red skai benches…but at least there’s a real food car.
It looks really worn and faded. I go to the counter to order food.
I ask for the veal fricassee with roasted potatoes, but there are no more potatoes, which will be replaced by rice.
With that I’ll have a beer in a bottle (there’s also draught beer…) and the waiter will offer to serve me in the dining room.
As someone who knew the German and Austrian trains that served the Paris-Nancy-Strasbourg line in the 90s, I notice that the food is now reheated and no longer cooked to order. On the other hand, there’s no time for such meals since the arrival of high-speed trains.
And here is the result.
Very Germanic: it’s simple, not bad, it fills your stomach, but culinarily speaking, it doesn’t break the bank. Perhaps another dish would have made a better impression.
All in all, it’s not bad, but for those nostalgic for the 90s, when there was a real restaurant car, a real kitchen, and you could sit down at a table with a tablecloth and real crockery to eat a good schnitzel brought by a waiter in a suit, it’s well and truly over.
Once the dish is finished, I’ll take my beer to my place to finish it. The way back takes me through a first-class car, and there’s definitely nothing first-class about it. It’s more like a cattle truck.
End of the journey with a TV show and a beer…
We’ll arrive in Strasbourg on time and…that’s it.
A truly disappointing product that has nothing to do with first-class, with its cheap hard product, lack of privacy and noisy ambience.
If you’ve ever tried the TGV, Thalys, Eurostar or Lyria, you’re in for a real disappointment. And to think it costs more than executive class on Trenitalia between Paris and Lyon….
The articles about this weekend in Strasbourg
|1||Diary||Planning a weekend in Strasbourg|
|2||Train||Paris-Strasbourg – Deutsche Bahn ICE – First Class|
|3||Hotel||Maison Rouge, Strasbourg|
|4||Restaurant||Au Crocodile, Strasbourg|
|5||Restaurant||Chez Yvonne, Strasbourg|
|6||Restaurant||Miro, Ostwald (Strasbourg)|
|7||Diary||Tour of Strasbourg|
|8||Diary||Tour of Colmar|
|9||Train||Strasbourg-Paris – Deutsche Bahn ICE – First Class ( without interest, no review)|
|10||Diary||Debrief of the weekend in Strasbourg|