Chemin de Fer du VIVARAIS

Between 1886 and 1891 approximately 200kms of metre gauge railway track was laid in the mountains of the Central Massif of France to form the "Reseau Vivarais" as the region was then known. Since the network was closed in 1968 the section between Tournon and Lamastre has been operated as a tourist railway. For the first couple of kilometres the line follows the SNCF mainline through the Rhone valley (on dual gauge track) and then curves west into the valley of the river Doux which it follows, twisting and turning, crossing and recrossing the river, until it reaches Lamastre some 33kms from it's start.

It is best not to have too vivid an imagination as the train enters the tunnel shortly after leaving Tournon sharing the line with 1000+ tonne mainline freight trains (the return trip doesn't bear thinking about as the seemingly tiny narrow gauge train enters the tunnel against the normal direction of travel!). This is soon forgotten as the line climbs into the mountains, each turn unfolding beautiful views of the varied countryside. Stops are made on route to replenish engines and passengers, which with the leisurely speed of travel, give a one-way journey time of about two hours.

The original steam locos and railcars are used on the route and in the summer months a very regular service is offered with a reduced service in the spring and autumn.

The line has five Mallet locomotives to provide steam traction.


........and trailers are another option.
Lamastre station building also houses a bookshop
and small museum.......

......and the opportunity to upgrade your ticket to first class which means that instead of the hard wooden benches of standard class you get plush velvet, mahogany and brass luxury.

Gerry samples first class.