Monthly Archives: Nov 2017

Funicular Railway in Grasse (Chemins de Fer de Provence 23)

Plan de GrasseGrasse had, for a time, a funicular railway which transported passengers to and from the PLM railway station below the town . The higher station was at La Cours close to the old town of Grasse. For a great del of its life it competed with the TAM trams which meandered up and down the hill between La Cours and Grasse PLM station.

Details of all the other lines in Grasse can be found by following this link:

The funicular railway station was at the West end of the platform of the Grasse to Cannes railway run by the PLM. It was easier for passengers to access than the trams which started on the station concourse and this, together with the shorter travel time led eventually to the funicular outlasting the tram service.

The funicular was commissioned in 1909 but only lasted until 1938 when it was dismantled.

The Grasse train station was put back into service in 2005. Since then, the idea of ​​the funicular has been under development with the aim of improving access to Grasse from the train station.

Before looking at the new proposal , we can enjoy a number of old postcard pictures of the original funicular in operation.

As we have noted, Grasse has seen a need to commission a new funicular and has been developing plans since 2005.

The project has yet to see the light of day. If it does proceed then it will have 4 stations within an overall length of 570 metres and passengers will be carried up a total of  110 metres with an average incline of 20 % . The funicular will consist of two trains, each composed of two vehicles, connected by cable.

The implementation was entrusted on 12th August 2010 to a consortium of companies: DV Construction (a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction group ), Garelli , Poma, Miraglia, Snaf, Systra , Pierre Lorin and AEI. The project is likely to cost at least 40 million euros. The French State  has agreed to paying 5.5 million euros as part of the development of public transport projects under the Grenelle de l’Environnement. The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region will subsidise the project with an amount of 4 million euros.

The costs are at least:

30 million euros for design and implementation;
4.5 million for intellectual services and engineering;
4 million for land acquisitions!
1.5 million for contingencies.

For supporting information please see reference 2.


  1. Funiculaire-de-Grasse; Wikipedia:, accessed 18th December 2017.
  2. Subsidy of 5.5 million for the funicular of Grasse; 2013 (accessed 23rd September 2013).

The Tramway between Grasse and Cagnes sur Mer – Part 2 (Chemins de Fer de Provence 21)

We start the journey on the tram from Grasse PLM Railway Station.  The map below shows the different tramways in Grasse and the route of the PLM line from Cannes.

The blue line on the map is the route of the Chemin de Fer du Sud. Its station was located on what is now the Avenue de Provence to the East of the tunnel at location 2.

Point 7 on the map is the lower funicular station and the station on the PLM line. Point 6 is the lowest point on the TAM tramline within the town and the pink line rises through the town to Point 8 which is the La Cours and which is close to the old town of Grasse. Here there is an intersection between the funicular the TAM tramway via Pre-du-Lac to Cagens-sur-Mer (in light green) and the TCA tramway to Cannes [1] which is shown in darker green.

Grasse Town Centre Tramways and Railways.

You can find the story of the Grasse to Cannes Tramway on this link:–part-2-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-22

Within Grasse, the TAM tramway ran from close to the Gare PLM (pictures below) up Avenue Pierre Semard round a tight hairpin bend and continued up hill to meet the line of the Chemin de Far du Sud (now Avenue de Provence). There was a short spur of the main route to allow some tram services to terminate at the Gare du Sud.

The Gare PLM  platform ran from the station building along to the funicular station which is also shown on the pictures above.

The Gare du Sud has been demolished to make way for a modern apartment block, the Gare PLM remains although the station building is no longer the main focus of the station. There is a modern building at the end of the railway tracks as shown above.

After leaving the Gare du Sud the tramway continued to climb up through the town of Grasse along Avenue Pierre Semard and then turning tightly onto Boulevard Carnot, then tightly again to the left onto Boulevard Fragonard and winding its way up to La Cours.

At La Cours it would have been usual to disembark the tram which had brought you up from the town and to chose either to board a tram on the TAC to Cannes or the TAM to Cagnes-sur-Mer or Le Bar-sur-Loup.

Aboard a TAM tram for Cagnes or Bar-sur-Loup  you would have set off Eastwards on La Cours and then Route Napoleon and along the streets of the old town of Grasse before turning  approximately north-eastwards and heading along Avenue Thiers and then east along Avenue Victoria following the modern D2085 road out of Grasse which becomes Avenue Francis de Croisset, Avenue Pierre Ziller and Avenue Auguste Renoir. By the time the tramway rached the Route de Nice it had crossed over the line of the Ligne du Sud which had been travelling parallel to it about 100 metres further south down the hillside. At the point where their routes crossed the Ligne du Sud was in tunnel under Chateauneuf.

Leaving Chateauneuf the tramway followed the D2805 Route de Nice to Le Colombier and at a point where the D2805 turned northwards at Le Colombier, the tramway continued in a south-easterly direction. Its route is now called the Chemin du Tramway.

The route is marked in yellow on the larger map and shows that rather than following the contours the line was dropping down towards Les Sept-Fonds. Details of the viaduct at Le Sept-Fonds can be found by following this link:


The line continued on a downward grade rejoining the line of the modern D2805 and curving northwards before reaching the Viaduct de Cloteirol (the Pont des Vignes). At this next viaduct the tramway took a sharp turn through 90 degrees. This combination of a very tight curve and a steep grade led to the worst disaster on the tramway network on the Copte d’Azur. The story is told on the previous post in this series (

The remains of the Viaduct can just be picked out in the adjacent Google Earth screenshot.

After the Viaduc des Vignes the line followed the Modern D2805 again in a predominantly easterly direction towards Villeneuve-Loubet. It crossed the River Cannes on the West side of the town over a bridge which has been widened and replaced and which carries the Avenue de la Liberation into Villeneuve. The tramway ran along the Avenue de la Liberation through Villeneuve and on through a short tunnel to meet the Vence to Cagnes tramway, details of the remaining journey into Cagne-sur- Mer can be found on the post about the line from Vence:

The branch line to Le Bar sur Loup

At Pre du Lac a short 3 kilometre spur ran to Le-Bar-sur-Loup. It left the main line to follow the Route du Bar. The spur followed this road which ran along the hillside only a short distance above the Ligne du Sud until it entered the Commune of Le-Bar-sur-Loup. At that point the road became the Route de Grasse and the tramway continued to follow it round the head of the Vallon de Riou and on into Le-Bar-sur-Loup.


And finally …..

A few older postcard images of the line.


Ligne Cagnes-Grasse


1. Colleagues and friends on the Forum ‘’ have very helpfully highlighted the fact that the tramway between Grasse and Cannes was neither part of the TAM nor of the TNL. It was, in fact, independently owned by the TCA – Compagnie des Tramways électriques de la Côte d’Azur. After the bankruptcy of this company in 1923, the line was briefly taken on by the CTC – Cie des Tramways de Cannes, until its closure in 1926. (Please see, page 1.) 242T66 very kindly provides a link to an addition photograph which comes from the collection of AMTUIR.[2] A copy of that excellent postcard photograph can be found below:

2. Photograph from the AMTUIR Collection;, accessed 21st March 2018.


Tramway between Grasse and Cannes (Chemins de Fer de Provence 22)

Trams ran on this route from 16th August 1915 to 1st  October 1926  after which the service was replaced by road vehicles.

The city of Grasse once had four rail links, including the Tramway de Côte d’Azur (TCA), which connected it to Cannes.

From 1902-1903, studies were undertaken about making a connection from Cannes to Grasse using steam trams. But opposition and administrative complications prevented the project from proceeding and it was not until 1909 that work began on an electric tramway.

The metre-gauge track was 18 km long. It started from the Albert-Edouard platform, in front of the Casino de Cannes and crossed the Avenue Felix Faure, going up what later became Rue de Marshal Joffre, then along Le Route de Grasse. It crossed Baraques de Mougins then Mouans-Sartoux.

The route then climbs a steep gradient up to Grasse, travelling along Boulevard Collet and Boulevard Victor Hugo. The terminus was at the entrance to the Cours de Grasse. In some places, the gradient reaches 60 mm/metre.

The construction of the line began in 1910. It encountered difficulties in construction because of the steep gradient and some technical problems. The formal commissioning did not get scheduled until Autumn 1914, and that date had to be move back due to the onset of the Great War. The commissioning only took place on 16th August 1915.

The rolling stock was made up of six central-platform engines – delivered from August 1915 to August 1919, modeled on the GGO’s G-cars. They were considered to be very modern in comparison to the cars onnthe Cannes network.. They were 11.50 m long and weighed 14 tonnes. The traction and braking equipment included two 50 hp engines that allow 4 rheostatic braking and an air brake. 7 open trailers completed the rolling stock.

The steep gradient of the line meant that accidents were frequent. The rolling stock was not well-maintained. A suicide on 9th July 1919 using the electrical overhead wiring did not help the reputation of the line and caused serious damage to the electrical power plant.

In the face of repeated accidents, speed limits were placed on the line. Sadly when the line opened it did so without any spare parts and as a result the service was ultimately, in 1920, limited  to just one tram-train per day. Regular services were interrupted by an irregular electricity supply.

On 6th January 1922, the line was sporadically put into service but the TCA was soon declared bankrupt. Occasional attempts were made to resurrect the line but on 1st October 1926 the last tram ran between Cannes and Grasses and the tracks were removed by 13th May 1933.

The route ran along the GC 34 from Cannes to Grasse on the left shoulder of the road all along its length with the exception of the underpass under the PLM track at Mouans-Sartoux where there was a depot. The following are a few images to follow which show different facets of the line.


The Tramway between Grasse and Cagnes sur Mer – Part 1 (Chemins de Fer de Provence 20)

There was once a tramway between Cagnes sur Mer and Grasse. The main line of this tramway was 25 kilometres long and there was a branch line to Le Bar sur Loup which was 3 kilometres long. Deatails of the route can be found on the second post in this series:…r-de-provence-21

Construction work started late in 1910 and the section from Grasse to Pre du Lac opened on 1st March 1911.The extension to Cagnes opened on 30th December 1911, and the Branch from Pre du Lac to Le Bar sur Loup opened on 1st October 1912.

The tramway remained open only until 1929, with the final journeys taking place on 16th May 1929.

On 17th September 1913, the line experienced a major accident. The worst that happened on the TAM network: the derailment of tram 428 at the Pont des Vignes. This led to many controversies and reports, but also improvements in the safety arrangements on the line. Ultimately, the accident was probably primarily responsible for the early demise of the Grasse-Cagnes line.

After the Great War, the section Grasse-Cour to Grasse-PLM, was closed in May 1921 as a result of competition from the funicular railway.

On 31st October 1923 there was nearly as significant an issue as on 17th September 1913. Tram 202 almost experienced the same problem at Le Pont des Vignes but finally derailed without too much damage further along the line near La Vanade.

On 3rd January 1925, a tram began to accelerate on icy rails close to the viaduct, fortunately the tram was stopped without derailing. In addition to these incidents, there were others of a less serious nature which were deemed to be the result of aging equipment and poorly maintained track, precipitated the decline of the tram and the Grasse-Ville / Grasse-Cours section closed in November 1925.

Competition from road transport and financial deficit, provoked the end of the line in 1929 and the official liquidation in 1930.

So what was it that happened in September 1913?

Wednesday 17th September 1913, stormy was a stormy and wet day. Tram train 428 from Grasse-Ville to Cagnes-sur-Mer departed on time at 16:36hrs. It consisted of self-propelled Bam-205, Aam-114 and trailer Bam-3108 and was driven by Jules Leotardi (25 years old) who had been with the company since May that year, having been authorized to drive trains in July. He was accompanied on the journey by Honoré Sauteron, a 25-year-old student who had been hired for 12 days and whom he was training.

In Pré-du-Lac, the conductor Louis Agnelly (33 years old) harnessed the trailer Aam-3010, without connecting the continuous brake because Leotardi judged that to do so would increase the consumption of air and instead of improving the braking of the train, would lengthen the reaction time.

The tram was full, very full in fact. Several units of alpine soldiers were returning to their garrisons on the coast after having participated in manoeuvers in the Grasse region. The soldiers of the 27th BCA, who were camped near Chateauneuf, also embarked to return to their quarters in Menton.

Shortly after, at following stops, soldiers from the 24th BCA who had left their bivouac at Rouret to return to their base at Villefranche joined the tram, as did some 2nd RA gunners and civilian travellers. The tram train was already quite full before others joined the tram at San-Peire, St.Pons, Le Collet and Les Moulins. Thectram was so crowded that a short stop was made at Rigamel to allow the conductor to change cars in order to continue selling the tickets.

The train stopped again at Roquefort, then took more passengers at Colombier halt, which it left 15 minutes  behind schedule and with seventy-six passengers on board. A fine rain began to fall and the train entered the forest on a steep gradient heading for Le Viaduc de Sept-Fonds.

Le Viaduc de Sept-Fonds.

The Sept-Fonds Viaduct is one of the last vestiges of the Cagnes-Grasse tram line. It was designed in 1908 by Armand Joseph Marie Hamon, engineer of the roads and bridges in Grasse. It crosses the Sept-Fonds valley (length: 139m, width: 3.70m, height: 23m at the highest point). It consisted of 12 semi-circular masonry arches, each spanning 10m. Today, the rails and the wrought iron railings have disappeared, but the masonry is still intact and clearly visible. 

In researching this post I have found some excellent pictures of the viaduct, and even some detailed drawings. These are available, in context, on the geocache site for the structure:

As the tram-train continued down the line, witness accounts suggest that the speed increased significantly. Leotardi’s tesimony is that when he applied the brakes, rather than slowing the train, the wheels jammed and slipped on the rails. He applied the sanders, but to little effect. As this was quickly becoming an emergency, he invoke instructed procedures which were to release the brakes and throw the power car into reverse gear, but speed continued to increase.

The tram-train reached Le Pont des Vignes travelling at a speed in excess of 65 kilometres per hour. The leading power car seemed to be remaining on the track and so Leotardi took the decision to bring the power control back to neutral.

At the same time, in the rear car, the conductor was making his way through the military and their equipment to try to tighten the brakes.

An impression of what things were like can be gained from the following two pictures. On leaving the Viaduc de Sept-Fonds the tram followed the line which was tight on the wall in the first picture, soon this wall gave way to an un-fenced section of the line. The tram would have been travelling immediately above the drop on the right-hand side of the second picture.

While the conductor was trying to tighten the rear car’s brakes, the tram-train continued out onto the curve of the Pont des Vignes (Cloteirol) Viaduct) and left the tracks, it tore down the telegraph poles and the relatively flimsy guardrails and pulled with it the remaining two cars of the train.

The two rear cars left the viaduct and dropped 13 metres into the ravine. They were severely damaged and threw passengers out onto the hillside. The hitch to the leading car broke and it stopped teetering on the brink. Thankfully, it did not also fall into the valley. It remained on the viaduct but with both ends of the car extending out over the void!

The survivors in the lead car did not immediately grasp the extent of the disaster. This changed when they grasped that some doors of their car opened out onto the void and when  they heard the cries and lamentations of the wounded and dying at the bottom of the ravine.

A few of the passengers recovered enough to clamber out of the tram and went down the line to Villeneuve-Loubet to raise the alarm.

The able-bodied men, including Leotardi, his pupil, and several passengers, descended into the ravine to help the victims. Many people had been thron clear of the wreckage as the tram cars fell, but the most serious cases were stuck in the pile of tram cars and many here were fatalities.

Sixteen people were killed instantly or died in the moments following the accident. Another died that night at the hospital, and another two a few days later. There were 19 dead and 39 wounded.

A stone plaque was erected by the Commune on the face of one of the viaduct pillars to commemorate the dead and wounded. This can be seen on the face of the pillar in the second of the pictures below.

Le Pont des Vignes

There are two picture below of the bridge in its present condition.




  1. José BANAUDO “Le Tram des Vallees” Tramways des Alpes-Maritimes (Editions du Cabri).
  2. Geocache:

Ligne de Central Var – Part 4 – Pont de Loup to Grasse (Chemin de Fer de Provence 19)

We travel on from Le Pont de Loup to Grasse.

You can find a downloadable version of this length of the line, here, (the online version follows after the next picture …….)

Ligne de Central Var 4

The earlier sections of the line between La Manda and Le Pont de Loup can be found at:

The next post in the Line de Central Var series will start at Grasse Gare du Sud.

Excerpt from the map of the railroads of Provence in 1924

We start this section of the line with some more pictures of the iconic bridge destroyed by the Germans in 1944.


The viaduct features on a whole series of different post cards. It dominated the valley and gave the Gorge de Loup a distinctive character over the 50 years or so that it was in use.

Some of the cards above and below illustrate a distinctive feature of the Central Var line. For many years the line was required as a diversionary route by the military for use if the coastal route was compromised. So, although the line was a metre-gauge line, it had a third rail provided along a considerable part of its length. This third rail ensured that the line could accommodate standard gauge rolling stock if required by the military.

Among these pictures are graceful pictures of the viaduct under construction, in its prime and saddening pictures of its demise including one of the deconstruction work taking place after the War. The viaduct was made up of 11 masonry arch spans on masonry piers. Each arch spanned 20 metres. The curved alignment made the viaduct very photogenic.

After crossing the viaduct trains immediately enter the station of Halte de Loup. No more than a wayside halt on the line, it can be seen in the postcard view of the Viaduct (204) above.

The Halte de Loup today

After leaving the Halte, the line follows what is now called Route de l’Ancien Chemin de Fer which travels in a South-Southwesterly direction through Gourdon to reach the Viaduc due Riou-de-Gourdon. This viaduct is of a similar masonry construction to others on the route and has 8 arched spans of 12 metres.

The line continues following what is now the Chemin du Bosquet until it reached the Ribas Viaduct (or Fanerie), by which time the railway route is below the village of Le Bar sur Loup. Like Tourrettes sur Loup this is an attractive medieval perched village typical of the area around Nice.

The Ribas or Fanerie Viaduct is barriered off to prevent vehicular usage. A steel girder spans the road below and the remainder of the structure is a series of masonry arches. The Google Earth Streetview screenshot shows this well.

Our pictures of this Viaduct are completed by a view from the D2210 road which runs alongside it.

Immediately beyond the Viaduct de Ribas the line curved around the base of the village, flanked on one side by retaining walls and reached the station which is now a school. Not surprisingly the road in front of the old station is called Avenue des Ecoles. The old line follows this road out of Le Bar Sur Loup and continues along the Chemin de Chateauneuf to the Viaduct Riou-de-Bar and then immediately into the Tunnel Riou-de-Bar. Both portals of the tunnel are shown in the pictures below.

At Tourrettes sur Loup, a quarry cuts into the rocky hill above the current cemetery. Abandoned nowadays, its location is betrayed by the bare rock facing that village. That quarry was used for much of the stonework needed for the various viaducts and tunnels along the Central Var line. It was well used. As we have seen, the line travelled through rugged terrain with many hills and deep valleys. Viaducts, bridges, tunnels and retaining walls were a regular part of the construction work.

We noted above that the Central Var line was considered to be of great military significance. For strategic reasons, special arrangements were made to facilitate military transport. The stations of Saint-Jeannet, Bar-sur-Loup, Grasse and Tourrettes-sur Loup had lengthy sidings (250 to 300 metres long) to allow the passing of long military trains.

Before we continue our journey towards Grasse. I thought it would be good to see the timetable for 1912 which appeared in an internet search conducted on 28th November 2017. The service was not intensive, only 4 or 5 trains per day, but nonetheless significant given the rural nature of the line.

From the various pictures of the trains on the line, most trains appear to have been combined passenger and goods trains, this means that the timetable is probably representative of all the journeys on the route in June 1912.

Leaving the Tunnel Riou-de-Bar the route continues to follow the Chemin de Chateauneuf. The next station on the route was Maganosc-Châteauneuf reach after passing through the St. Laurent Tunnel (125 metres long 43 ° 40 ’53 “N, 6 ° 57′ 46” E (Coordinates of the Vence end), 43 ° 40 ’52 “N, 6 ° 57′ 38” E (Coordinates of the Grasse end)). It appears that all evidence of the tunnel at the Grasse end has been obliterated and the tunnel mouth at the Vence end is well hidden in the forest below the D2210 road.

After leaving the St. Laurent Tunnel the line immediately crosses a road and passes under the site of some modern buildings before following the line of the Avenue Saint-Laurent. It’s route goes through the concrete blocks on the photograph below.

By this time the line was travelling approximately East to West and is shown on the plan view below.

Travelling on from this point the route passes through another short tunnel which has been widened for the modern road and enters the site of the old Mangagnosc-Chateauneuf Station.
In the first monochrome image below the site of the station is highlighted by a red arrow. On the second image the red arrow points to the bridge to the West of the station which still remains. The adjacent picture shows it spanning the road to the West of what was the station. The road is still named Avenue Saint-Laurent and continues towards Grasse, eventually reaching the Pont Felix Martin.
This viaduct is well shrouded in trees. It crosses the Valley of Saint Christophe, in some quarters it is known as the Viaduc de Riou-de-Maganosc. The best photograph available is a Google Earth Screenshot. The picture below is taken looking East back up the line.After this Viaduct, the road has a new name – Avenue St. Antione de Exupery. The old line now entered the suburbs of Grasse.

The line was in cutting and after a short distance was spanned by a wrought iron girder bridge taking a narrow accommodation road across the line and then continued at grade round the hillside until reaching the Viaduct de Font-Laugière (sometimes known as Le Pont de Eiffel).

The bridge was the subject of a short report in Nice-Matin entitled “Grasse: Twenty years ago, the metamorphosis of the Font-Laugière viaduct” in 2008, reporting on the work done to the bridge 20 years earlier. Work started on converting the old bridge into a highway in 1986 and was completed in 1988.

The article included the memories of Georges Rainard, a retired teacher, who remembered, at the age of 15 in 1944 seeing the last steam train cross the viaduct which was soon after the allied landings in Provence and the closure of the line because of the damage done to viaducts further East.

After crossing the viaduct we end up nowadays on the Avenue de Provence in Grasse and within very short shrift we are at the location of Grasse Chemin de Fer du Sud railway station, or at least the site of the station, which is now a road and a modern apartment block!

Ligne de Central Var – Part 3 – Vence to Pont de Loup (Chemins de Fer de Provence 18)

The latest instalment of our journey on the Chemins de Fer du Sud Central Var Line takes us from Vence to Le Pont de Loup

We start this part of our journey at Vence Station.

Vence is at the end of a tramway from Cagne sur Mer and details of this tramway can be found by following this link:

This post focuses on the Central Var line from Vence to Le Pont de Loup. This is the third part of the journey from Colomars (La Manda)  near Nice to Meyrargues near Aix-en-Provence.

The earlier parts of the route can be explored by clicking on these links:

c1This next section continues our journey out of Vence towards Grasse. The station site is on the West side of the town. The large open square to the north-west of Lycee Henri Matisse. The pink line on the screenshot from Google Earth is the route of the line. This means that although the railway may have traversed the streets in the immediate area of the station, the pictures on postcards at the end of the last post are more likely to include rails from the Cagnes to Vence tramway. There is a link to a post about the tramway above.

The Central Var line left Vence Station on the Avenue Rhin et Danube, travelling pretty much due west for a kilometre or so, before turning West-Southwest in cutting and going under the accommodation bridge in the second picture below. After the bridge the line continued to turn towards the South West before crossing another Viaduct, this one crossed the Valley of the River Malvan. A view of the present road is in the third picture below.



After the Viaduct de Malvan the route of the line continued in a South-Westerly direction leaving the route of the present M2210 but remaining on Avenue Rhin et Danube



The line then turned North West on what is now called Rue de Ouahigouya which becomes Route de Provence, Tourrette-sur-Loup. The line traversed the Vallons de Notre Dame on a wide curve turning towards the South and following the contours via the Viaduct de la Téolière (Google Streetview picture below) toreach the Viaduct du Cassan which is in the fifth sixth and seventh photos below.


Immediately after crossing the Viaduct du Cassan the line passed under another road bridge which can be picked out in the picture below. A short journey further down the line was the Viaduct de Pascaressa. This viaduct was destroyed towards the end of WW11 by the retreating German army. The first, monochrome picture of Pascaressa Viaduct was taken in 1944 shortly after the attack by the German forces. The pictures that follow show it as it is now.


After Pascaressa the line reach the Station at Tourrette sur Loup, the village in the pictures above those of the viaduct on the last page and visible in this early postcard of Pascaressa Viaduct. The station building is now used as the club house for a Boules Club – pictures are below.

Travelling on from the station, the line follows what is now called Route de Pie Lombard along the contours of the hill side until it reached the Viaduct de St. Antoine (above) and then the Viaduct de Clare (also above to the right).

By this stage the line was travelling above the old road between Grasse and Vence, and below the D2210, the current route to Grasse. The line switched to the North side of the D2210 at a point close to Valettes. The Google Street view screenshot below shows the crossing keepers cottage.


From this point on the line follows Routes des Valettes on a retaining wall above the main road for 100metres or so and then on embankment following the contours of the hillside just above the D2210 for some distance until entering the Tunnel de Loup on the East side of the Gorge de Loup.


The first picture is of the entrance on the South end and the second picture is the opening on the Northwest end.

Very quickly after leaving the tunnel the line crossed the Pont de Loup a 310 metre-long graceful curved viaduct across the Gorge de Loup. I have included a number of pictures of this viaduct as it is iconic and perhaps gives the route its distinctive flavour. It was destroyed violently at the end of the war by the retreating German army. The destruction of this viaduct was probably the most significant factor in the demise of the line.

Please note, once again the dual track gauge over the viaduct in the image below.

c18The remains of the viaduct don’t give a good enough account of the structure that once carried the single track line over the Gorge de Loup. If it had survived the war it would have been integral part of a long metre-gauge line running along the foothills of Les Alpes Maritimes. I make no apology for the number of photographs in this


Tramway between Vence and Cagne-sur-Mer (Chemins de Fer de Provence 17)

Work to construct a 12 kilometre tramway to Vence from the coast started in 1907. There were some problems during the construction of the Malvan viaduct and also some legal and political problems. These factors delayed the commissioning of the line until 30th December 1911. It was an expensive line to build and maintain.

The line approached Vence from the south along Avenue Colonel Mayere, and entered the old town. It followed Avenue Marcellin Maurel around the immediate Old Town.  Old cartes postales show the tram station on Avenue de la Republique, the Place Nationale and Avenue de la Gare. Interpreting these pictures suggests that they are taken in what is now called La Place du Grande Jardin in Vence.

The pink line on the Google Earth screenshot above is the route of the Chemins de Fer du Sud Central-Var Line through Vence and the blue line shows the location of the tramway on the Cartes Postales. I have yet to find evidence confirms conclusively the alignment of the TAM tramway beyond the Place de la Republique, but there is evidence of a right-angle connect ion to a wagon turntable in the pictures of the Station. Hence the blue line approaches the pink line at right-angles above.

The Malvan Viaduct between Vence and St. Paul de Vence took its name from the river between the two villages. Construction took 4 years. It was of traditional masonry constriction and can be seen in all three of the following photos.

In 1924, an accident which left 17 wounded led to a growing distrust  in the tramway as a means of transport. After just 13 years of operation people were suggesting that the line was unsafe and aging. However, the line remained in favour with many travellers and even withstood the first wave of line closures between 1929 and 1931. It did not last long! The formal closure took place on 31st December 1932. The last tram used the line on 4th January 1933.

The viaduct was destroyed in WW11 and little remains … just the abutments!

The carte postale below shows the tramway station for St. Paul de Vence. The colour pictures show a viaduct that is one of the few remaining vestiges of the line. The second of these is cropped from a screenshot from Google Streetview. This short viaduct sits a!ongside the road from St. Paul to La Colle. The monochrome picture below it shows a similar viaduct closer to St. Paul de Vence which I believe is no lon A length of the line can also be picked out (to the right-hand edge of the picture and running close to the road).

The line crossed another low viaduct before approaching the station at La Colle sur Loup. I could not did this viaduct and it appears that it has been swallowed up by earthworks for the modern day road.

The station at La College is similar in construction to that at St. Paul. Much of the building still remains as can be seen in the photos below. The largest of these images was taken in 2021 by Richard Bird.

20211008_130159r After La Colle, the tramway followed the Avenue de la Colle south towards the coast and met the Grasse to Cagne-sur-Mer tramway in Villeneuve-Loubet.

The route then continued along the Avenue de Grasse into Cagne. The terminus of the line was at the south-east end of the Avenue de Grasse. I believe that the more modern buildings in the next photograph were built on what was the tramway terminus.

Cagne-sur-Mer Tramway station is shown in the following images ……

And finally a small bonus for persisting to the end of this post ….

The tram from Vence to Cagne is the main actor of the final scene of one of Jean Renoir’s first films, “Catherine ou une vie sans joie”.

The last 12 minutes or so of the film show the tramway. The full film can be seen on this link:

It is really interesting to note the condition of the road and tramway between Vence and Cagnes in 1924!

Monaco to La Turbie Rack Railway (Chemins de Fer de Provence 15)

The first railway in Monaco was completed in 1869 by the French PLM railway company as part of an international route between France and Italy. There were two stations, Monaco and Monte Carlo. The PLM company became part of SNCF in 1938.

In 1893, a metre-gauge rack railway was constructed to connect Monaco with La Turbie, a medieval village perched on the hills above Monaco. There were a number of different schemes considered before the final version was agreed. These can be seen on the sketch plan which has been provided on[1].

The first scheme was proposed in 1882. The line was promoted by Amédée Brousseau with financial backing from a Parisian banker, Eugene Hubert. The planned line left Moneghetti district on the northern border of the principality and travelled straight up the valley of Sainte-Dévote, with a stop at Le Cros. It would have been 1,860 metres long with one tunnel of 100 metres in length and a viaduct of 60 metres in length (with 5, ten-metre arches), crossing the valley at a height of 8 to 10 m . The costs were estimated at 950,000/1,000,000 francs.[1]

The mayor loved the scheme and it was accepted at the end of 1882 by the local authorities. On 11th April 1883, a public inquiry was ordered.On 16th July 1883 the municipality of La Turbie granted a concession to the Compagnie du Chemin de Fer à crémaillère d’intérêt local de Moneghetti-Monte Carlo à la Haute-Turbie. However, the military authorities opposed the rout and suggested an alternative on the left bank of the River Sainte-Dévote which was 500 metres longer.

The project was reviewed, and in 1884 a second project was proposed, leaving Monegasque and running along the Carnier plateau, along the side of the Mont des Mules, with a halt at Bordina to end 250 metres east of La Turbie. Teh costs were considerably higher: 1,600,000 francs. This route was agreed on 30th July 1884 and the concession was granted on 31st May 1885.  Before work commenced, the banker, Eugene Hubert went bankrupt.

His partner, Brosseau, contacted a new banker, Abel Neveu and the new company (Compagnie du chemin de fer d’intérêt local à crémaillère de La Turbie ou le Righi d’hiver) was formed with statutes being deposited on 22nd December 1886. The company was based in Basel. The board was made up of Swiss and Alsatian financiers and industrialists including the locomotive manufacturer Koechlin, and the Swiss engineer Nicolas Riggenbach who invented the rack railway traction system.

The new company was beset with problems, not the least of these being a series of disputes between Brosseau and the other directors. In 1889, before any work commenced, Brosseau withdrew from the company. On 21st June 1889, the company was dissolved and stripped of its concession.[1]

The saga continued. On 13th February 1891 the engineer, Charles Lornier requested a concession, but the Municipality of La Turbie favoured the earlier applicants and on 9th March 1891 a new company was formed by former shareholders, Compagnie du chemin de fer d’intérêt local à crémaillère de La Turbie (Righi d’hiver). Its head office was in La Turbie and it succeeded in getting a public inquiry started on 20th November 1891.

In 1892, a Swiss engineer, Mr. Stockalper plotted a new route for a metre- gauge Riggenbach rack-rail line. The specification, including all rails, gradients, locomotives, coaches and wagons was drawn up.The project cost was estimated at 1,400,000 francs – 200,000 francs less than the 1884 project.

Finally, in 1893, the local authorities approved the project and the line was declared of public utility. The engineer for the works was Chatelanat and the contractors were Mombelli, Thus and Crovetto. In December 1893, the first two locomotives, manufactured in the workshops of the Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques in Belfort, were delivered.[1]

The final route is shown on the map below [2]. The line did not enter the Principality , it terminated on French soil in the suburb of Beausoleil.

At 7.00am on 10th February 1894, the line was opened to its first travellers.[3] Traffic grew steadily until 1920. [4, 5, 6, 7] Electrification projects were envisaged in 1926 and 1929 but they did not come to fruition.[8, 9] The line closed in 1932.


The Company had the following equipment:[10]

  • four 020T steam locomotives , the main feature of which was their design that countered the slope;
  • five passenger cars with 60 seats to 2 classes;
  • two goods wagons.

All items were manufactured in Belfort by Société alsacienne de constructions mécaniques (SACM) [11] and delivered in December 1893.

This blog has a series of pictures of the line at the end of the text, below the poster.

We note for completeness that electric trams came to Monaco in 1898 with a line from the Place d’Armes to Saint Roman. Several other lines followed within the Principality. In 1900, the tram system was connected to that of Nice and in 1903 extended to Menton. It has also been pointed out to me (19th March 2018 by BG1000 on the Passions Metrique et Etroite Forum) that there was a short-lived tramway which used the route of the Funicular.

At the beginning of the 20th century an electric tram service connected the Rue des Iris in Monte-Carlo to the Riviera-Palace Hotel. The lifespan of the service was short – just 10 years from 1903 to 1913. The service became redundant as auto-bus and car usage rose in the period before the Great War.

The last trams ran in Monte Carlo and the principality in 1931.

There was a main line station on coast but pressure of land use in the Principality has always been a problem, and in the 1950s a new tunnel was built from the original Monaco station, through the hills behind Monte Carlo, bypassing Monte Carlo station. The latter station was closed and the land occupied by it and the railway released for other uses. In the 1990s, a similar exercise was performed replacing the remaining line through the original Monaco station with a new line and station entirely underground.

There are some great postcard images below after a poster for the La Turbie Line.

As a late addendum. Yves of the Passions Metrique and Etroite! Forum[12] provided this link:

There are a lot more images and text relating to the Monaco-La Trurbie line.


  1. Un Train de Legende: La Cremaillere de La Turbie;, accessed 18th March 2018.
  2.  Chemin de fer à crémaillère de La Turbie à Monte-Carlo; Wikipedia;, accessed 19th March 2018.
  3. Journal des Mines No. 7, 25th February 1894, p6.
  4. Rapports et délibérations : Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes, Nice, Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes; September 1914 2nd Ed. p132.
  5. Rapports et délibérations : Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes, Nice, Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes, 1916, 2nd Ed. p73.
  6. Rapports et délibérations : Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes, Nice, Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes, 1917, 2nd Ed. p74.
  7. Rapports et délibérations : Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes, Nice, Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes, 1918, 2nd Ed. p59.
  8. Le Temps Financier; Le Temps, no 259,‎ 2nd May 1932, p2.
  9. Rapports et délibérations : Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes, Nice, Conseil général des Alpes-Maritimes, 1920, 1st Ed. p149, p211.
  10. Annuaire des Chemins de fer et des Tramways (ancien Marchal) : Édition des réseaux français, Paris, 1928, 43rd Ed. p1334.
  11. Bulletin des lois de la République française, t. 31, Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1885 “Chemins de fer” p657, p1073-1080, p1980.
  12.  See:, accessed 22nd March 2018.

Ligne de Central Var – Part 2 – Saint-Jeannet to Vence (Chemins de Fer de Provence 14)

We continue a journey along the line of the Central Var metre-gauge railway. We travel from Saint-Jeannet to Vence!

2. Le Tunnel de Les Champignonnieres, Saint-Jeannet to Vence Station

Map of the railrways of Provence in 1924


This next section of the follows the contours towards Grasse the centre of the perfumery industry in South East France. The route into Grasse itself will be for another post in this series.

A little more history

The Freycinet plan launched in 1879 by the minister of public works of the same name, Charles de Freycinet, provided for the construction of 8,700 km of lines of local interest. These lines were intended to promote economic development and open up communes which up until that date had been seriously isolated. The plane proposed more than a hundred projects including routes to Digne, Draguignan, Castellane, Cagnes, Barjols, Puget Théniers and Cuneo.

For economic reasons, the majority of secondary lines constructed in the South East of France were metre-gauge lines. This choice allowed the lines to follow existing contours utilising tight curves, minimising the use of steep grades and expensive structures. Main secondary routes which would end up being secured were these:

From Nice to Digne by Puget-Théniers (150 km) – this line continues in use and has been thoroughly modernised (

From Nice to Meyrargues by Grasse and Draguignan (200 km) – the subject of this series of posts. The first of which can be found by following this link:

From Toulon to Saint-Raphaël by the coast (103 km) – a further series of posts are due at the end of 2017.

From Nice to Cuneo (standard-gauge line) – still existing (see for example,,

From Saint-Jeannet to Le Bar de Loup

Another view of Saint-Jeannet Station.

Immediately after leaving the Tunnel de les Champignonnieres the railway crossed the River Cagnes. This steep valley provided the necessary water powers for a series of mills and the road, at this point in the valley was named Chemins de Moulins – the Road of Mills. The mills were predominantly Olive Oil Mills.


In the maps above, two show the line of the railway. The lower map is dated 1833. The railway, in both cases has been added to the map by hand. There are 8 mills shown and further details can be found on this link:

The viaduct was built by 1892 and is known as the Viaduct de Cagnes. It is curved and of 90 metres in length (12 traditional stone arched spans – 43° 44’ 45”N, 7° 07’ 58” E).  The larger picture below gives an interesting insight into the use of the line as it shows dual gauge track. This allowed the line to take some standard gauge rolling stock.


After the viaduct, the line quickly disappeared once again into tunnel – Le Tunnel des Canons. The tunnel was just 30 metres long (43 ° 44 ’35 “N, 7 ° 08′ 00” E) and opened out onto a short section of line travelling in an approximately southerly direction before another short tunnel was encountered – Le Tunnel des Fonts – 53 metres long (43° 44′ 09″ N, 7° 07′ 37″ E). The route between these tunnels is now a local road named Avenue de Provence. The first four pictures below look back along the line towards Saint-Jeannet. The fourth is the Tunnel des Fonts taken in the direction of travel and looking approximately South West. The final picture below is of the Tunnel des Fonts looking back along Avenue de Provence to the North West.



After the Tunnel des Fonts the line travelled for a short distance along the old N210 (now the D2210)  immediately
before reaching another viaduct just under 1.5 kilometres from the tunnel. On the way it passed under the small accommodation bridge shown in the picture here. The next viaduct is Viaduct of Lubiane (43 ° 43 ’30 “N, 7 ° 06′ 28” E). It is a short viaduct of no more than 50 metres in length.

The screenshot from Google Earth shows both the length of the N210 that was traversed and the viaduct. The viaduct is now on Avenue de Henri Matisse and carries traffic leaving Vence to head  towards Saint-Jeannet.


b18After crossing the valley of the Lubiane the railway travelled on the streets of Vence, first along the line of the N210 and then on into what is now the main square of the town. Another screenshot from Google Earth shows the square as it is now. The line in Vence travels East-West.


What is now an open plaza was once Vence station. The following pictures give some insight into what the station was like when the railway was still active and show rails on the streets of the old town!

1371740113-06-Vence-380 (1)


And finally, for this post ……. the station in Vence was bracketed to the West by a girder bridge which still carries a road over the route of the line. As the line leaves Vence it now forms the Avenue Rhin et Danube.