Great Continental Railway Journeys

London to Monte Carlo

Series 1 - Episode 1 London to Monte Carlo



The jovial Michael Portillo and his equally jolly wardrobe set off on a grand rail tour of Europe. As the template for his journey Portillo is drawing upon the 1913 edition of Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide. In doing so he hopes to paint a picture of a prosperous Europe brimming with hope, unaware of the events about to engulf it.

From London he heads to Monte Carlo, the most popular route for the Edwardian traveller through France. As well as revelling in the delights of Paris he visits the small theatre where the Lumière brothers showed their first films, before losing his bright shirt in a casino.

It’s a winning mix of lightly worn social history and a romanticism of trains, stirred with consummate ease by the charmingly enthusiastic Portillo.


Michael Portillo ventures onto the European rail network to retrace journeys featured in Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide of 1913, beginning with London to Monte Carlo. His first stop is Paris, where he absorbs the atmosphere, before heading south to the Cote d'Azur and ending his journey at Monaco's gaming tables.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Michael Portillo
Director Dave Minchin
Series Producer Michelle Heeley