Great Continental Railway Journeys

Amsterdam to Northern France

Series 1 - Episode 5 Amsterdam to Northern France



Michael Portillo makes two visits to the Bad Jacket Cupboard for the final flourish of his entertaining Bradshaw-guided rail odyssey, sporting pastel blue and later vivid lime. Fair enough: if he wants to look like an Edwardian ice-cream seller, that’s up to him. As we reach the end of the line, Portillo is in Amsterdam’s beautiful railway station. Naturally he is momentarily diverted by a lovely restaurant but he tears himself away for a canal trip.

But things are more sombre by the end of the journey, when Portillo arrives at the Western Front, scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, before he heads to the forest of Compiègne, site of the signing of the 1918 Armistice.


Michael Portillo uses his 1913 copy of Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide to explore Holland and Belgium, before travelling to the French sector of the Western Front. He ends his journey in the Forest of Compiegne in northern France to hear how the First World War armistice was signed in a railway carriage.