Globe Trotting and New Beginnings

The “Chemins de Fer de Provence” Train

Posted on: September 29, 2009

We had the opportunity to ride part of the historic Chemins de Fer de Provence train line which runs from Nice to Digne-les-Bains. This is the oldest train company in France (its been around since the 1890s) and its service has survived world wars, withdrawal of government support, and floods.  The company initially had 3 lines:

– The Coastal Line: This line was the company’s original one and went out of business with the advent of bus service and increased usage of cars along the same route.

– The Northern Line: Built to have an alternative route to transport military supplies in case the coastal line was destroyed. This is the existing line.

– The Central Line: The bridges of this line were destroyed in WWII when the Germans left France and were never rebuilt.

The existing line takes an adventurous path from the coast, through the French Alps. It goes through several hand carved tunnels and provides breathtaking views while navigating the mountainous terrain. The train reaches an altitude of over 1000 metres at its peak and the longest tunnel it traverses is the Colle Saint-Michel Tunnel which is 3,457 metres long.

This is the only train line to cut through the French Alps and I highly recommend trying it out if you are in the area (and want to get a different train experience than the boring SNCF trains). There are mordernization efforts underway to upgrade the rail lines as well as carriages. This will be cool, but will take away from the “Quaint-ness” of the ride. These improvements will probably be completed in a couple of years, so try and get on the “Train des Pignes” soon if you want to get the old school experience!

Here are a few pictures and videos from our experience (These do not do justice to the train ride as we only rode the first 20 km and did not get to go through the best parts of line)

CIMG3232Rail Terminal in Nice

CIMG3238Line Map

CIMG3235Old School Poster

CIMG3200Ritu outside Train

CIMG3227Ritu on Train

CIMG3219View from initial part of the line

Using the hand crank windshield wiper 🙂

Random video during the train ride


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1 Response to "The “Chemins de Fer de Provence” Train"

Hello you two – hope you are enjoying yourselves. We got your postcard today – kinda wish we were travelling too haha. Anywhoo we miss you guys – have a blast. See you in Dubai around new years.

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