To the rhythm of the Train des Pignes
More than 100 years after its creation, the Railways of Provence train continues to transport us through wild nature and authentic villages, from Digne les Bains to Nice. Imagined in 1861 by the Dignois inventor Alfonse Beau de Rochas, the Train des Pignes line was intended to connect the Mediterranean (Nice, attached to France the previous year) to the Alps (Grenoble). It was not until Digne that the line was built, which would be 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 one meter, instead of the usual 1,40 m. This ingenious resource as well as a hard and long work, make it possible to build a railroad on a particularly difficult course of 150 km. 25 tunnels, 16 viaducts and 15 metal bridges are built!
It is better to take your time to appreciate the route of the Train des Pignes which crosses exceptional landscapes, from Haute Provence and the Asse Valley to the hinterland of Nice, passing through the Verdon and the Var Valley. That's good, the train takes 3h25 to reach Nice from Digne les Bains! And to prolong the experience, you have the choice between multiple stops to visit the villages of the itinerary.
Four trains leave daily from the railway station of Provence de Digne les Bains. You have to cross three other small stations (the Plan d'eau, Gaubert and the golf course) before leaving the town! The train continues its route through the Asse Valley – villages of Mezel et Chateauredon – to Barrême. The route then continues through the Haut Verdon, then the villages of character Annot and Entrevaux. Before reaching Nice, the Train des Pignes travels through the Haut Var Valley (Touët sur Var, Villars sur Var).
The Train des Pignes has always taken its time. Moreover, one of the legends explaining its name says that the train was so slow that travelers had time to get off on the move to pick up pine cones.
From May to October, the Steam Train des Pignes invites you to immerse yourself in this atmosphere of yesteryear aboard historic wagons between Puget-Thénier and Annot (information and reservations atthe Tourist Office).
Train des Pignes website (Provence Railways): www.trainprovence.com
Steam Pignes Train website: www.gecp-asso.fr