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The beauty of the Côte d'Azur with a touch of steam. This is Le Train des Pignes!

The beauty of the Côte d'Azur with a touch of steam. This is Le Train des Pignes!
photo: verdontourisme.com/The beauty of the Côte d'Azur with a touch of steam. This is Le Train des Pignes!
29 / 07 / 2022

One of the most beautiful railway experiences, the Côte d'Azur, offers about 150 kilometres of narrow gauge track and the nostalgic Le Train des Pignes. The line runs from Nice to Digne-les-Bains, the administrative centre of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department and allows passengers to travel in one go from the seashore through the numerous villages in the foothills of the Alps to an altitude of over 1,000 metres.

Trains depart from the small Gare des Chemins de Fer de Provence, where the line continues through the so-called Russian Quarter, with the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe, and through the suburbs into the mountainous hinterland. Away from the station, the Provençal atmosphere, scented with thyme and lavender, swells with views of charming villages, towns and olive groves typical of the area between the Alps and the Mediterranean.

From the various stops, there is the opportunity to set off on marked hiking trails for walks. A small handbook of the railway company offers several dozen of them. For example, from the station in Puget-Théniers, passengers can head to the picturesque village of La Croix-sur-Roudoule, while a path leads to the chestnut forests a short distance from the highest point of the line. And if you're short on time, you can get off at the Le Chaudan stop and head up a steep serpentine to climb to a panoramic trail with views all the way to the Alps.

Le Train des Pignes translates as the pine cone train, as in the 1930s, pine cones from the local forests were used to heat steam locomotives.

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