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:
This 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.
The 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 post.