More than 100 years after its creation, Provence Railways continues to transport passengers through stunning mountainous landscapes and quaint little villages from Digne-les-Bains to Nice. Envisioned in 1861 by the Dignois inventor Alphonse Beau de Rochas, the Train des Pignes was intended to link the Mediterranean (i.e. Nice, which had been ceded to France in the preceding year) to the Alps (i.e. Grenoble). Finally, the railway line was built only from Digne, which was enough to give the engineers many construction challenges before the line finally reached Nice in 1911.
To adapt to the steep terrain, the engineers opted for a track gauge of 1m, instead of the usual 1.4m. This ingenious recourse coupled with long and arduous work made it possible to construct a railway line over a particularly difficult 150km stretch. The 25 tunnels, 16 viaducts and 15 bridges built in total attest to this fact!
The Train des Pignes crosses exceptional landscapes from Haute Provence to the Nice hinterland via the Verdon and the Var valleys. The journey from Digne to Nice takes 3h25m, which is just as well, since it would be a pity to speed through such beautiful scenery! To prolong the experience, you have the choice to make a stop at any one of the many villages along the route.
Four trains leave each day from the Provence Railways train station in Digne-les-Bains. You will pass three other small stations (Plan d’Eau, Gaubert and Golf) before leaving the town! The train then travels along the Vallée de l’Asse, making stops at the villages of Mézel and Châteauredon, before heading towards Barrême. From there, the journey continues through the Upper Verdon region, stopping at Annot and Entrevaux, two picturesque villages which have attained the label “Villages of character”. Upon exiting the Upper Verdon, the train moves through the Upper Var Valley (Touët sur Var, Villars sur Var) before arriving in Nice.
The Train des Pignes, or Pine Cone Train in English, has always taken its time. According to one legend, the train was so slow, travellers had time to get off and pick pine cones.
From May to October, the steam locomotive invites you to travel back in time aboard historic wagons between the villages Puget-Théniers and Annot (information and reservations at the Tourist Office).
The Train des Pignes has always taken its time, that is the least we can say! “Train des Pignes” was actually named after “pine cones”. Indeed, according to the legend, it moved so slow that travellers had the time to get off the train and pick up pine cones.
From May to October, the Train des Pignes steam train invites you to immerse yourself in a charming old-world atmosphere aboard historic rail cars between Puget-Théniers and Annot (information and reservations at the Tourist Office).