Monthly Archives: Dec 2017

Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 6 – Hyeres to Bormes les Mimosas (Chemins de Fer de Provence 41)

 Hyères-Ville to Bormes

Details of the Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France from Toulon to Saint-Raphael are culled from a number of sources. Three significant ones are: Roland Le Corff [1], Marc Andre Dubout [2] and Jean-Pierre Moreau [3]. Others will be referred to as we follow the route of the line.

We start this section of our journey at Hyères and head eastward along the Chemin de Fer du Sud towards St. Raphael. But first a bit about the station at Hyères.

Situated approximately 22.5 kilometeres from Toulon Station, the Station closest to Hyères, Hyères-Ville was opened in 1890, it had the status ‘1st Class’ which put it on a par with the Gare du Sud in Toulon. It had three passenger platforms and 4 goods tracks. In 1907 the engine shed at Hyères-Echange was abandoned and a new facility, suitable for two engines was constructed at Hyères-Ville. Later in 1908 a restaurant/buffet building was constructed at the station.

The aerial view above shows the conditions extant at the station in the middle of the 20th Century, the land immediately around the station to its West and South is undeveloped. The town of Hyères is on its north side. In the 21st Century there is a very different story to tell. The station site has been swallowed up by the town of Hyères. The next image is taken from Jean-Pierre Moreau’s web pages and shows the old station plan superimposed on a modern satellite image from Google earth.

The station is long-gone and the area has been completely re-developed. The final plan-view is of the site taken from Google Earth.

The station was demolished in 1967 and has been replaced by tax collection offices, the municipal library and the town’s museum.

With nothing remaining of the station we are reliant on old pictures to help us appreciate the site better. Both of the pictures below show the station after the construction of the station buffet building. The designation of the first refers to avenues of palms which bordered roads in the town and which give it the name Hyères-les-Palmiers.

The Station Buffet Bar on Platform 1 (Jean-Pierre VIGUIER Collection)

A number of these images come from the webpages maintained by Jean-Pierre Moreau. All of these pictures show the buffet-bar building and so date from after the first year of operation of the line. The image at the top of these pages can be dated to the first year of operation as there is no buffet-bar building at the side of the platform. The image immediately above is taken in the 1930s, a mixed train from St.Raphaël to Toulon station is standing at platform 3. An open car “jardinière” is located behind the 230T SACM # 61 locomotive. (Photo Marcel CAUVIN – Pierre VIROT collection).

The image below was taken in 1937 at Hyeres. It is a two-axle 2nd Class A-2013 Decauville (José BANAUDO Collection).

These two images show the same Brissonneau & Lotz railcar in Hyères-Ville around 1938 (Edmond DUCLOS & GECP collections).

These following two images of workers on the line were taken in 1943 (during WW2) in Hyères. They show the same class of engine, a locomotive 141 Corpet-Louvet type. The engine in the first photo is named “Dakar.” Three engine drivers from Toulon pose in berets, and a station agent and train agent pose in caps in the first picture (GECP collection). Moreau says that the second locomotive is No. 21 (Marcel CAUVIN & LUGAN – GECP collection).

The final image at Hyères is taken in August 1947. In summer, railcars were coupled, making it possible for each movement to have a capacity of 216 seats (the seating capacity of 120 per unit was often exceeded through overcrowding). This train is travelling from Toulon to St. Raphael (Collection José BANAUDO).

Having spent some time at Hyères, we leave travelling Eastward, the track formation follows what id now Rue de Soleil Levant on a sweeping curve down to what is now the D98. This road is now a dual carriageway with the East-bound (south-side) carriageway over the formation of the railway line.

There was a Halt at Riondet (Riondet-Golf) and then the line bridged the River Gapeau on a bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel.

After having crossed the River Gapeau the line by-passed Les Salins d’Hyères to the south. There was a small halt at St.Nicolas-Mauvanne at the level-crossing on the road leading to Vieux Salins. In the picture below a 121T SACM 51-56 locomotive enters the halt from the St. Raphael direction (Collections Jean-Paul PIGNEDE & Jean-Pierre VIGUIE).

The building is still intact. The line is now running on the north side of the D98, the building is visible from the road but over a concrete wall. The first image is from Google Streetview and is taken from the D98. Moreau provides photographs of the rail-side of the building which were taken in 2014 from the other side of the wall. And finally at this location, a view of the building from the D559A which runs parallel to the D98 to the North. The building is marked on the photograph.

From the halt at halt at St.Nicolas-Mauvanne the railway formation remains under the D98 dual carriageway. Then as the D98 begins to drift northwards, the line of the railway follows the D559A into La Londe. On the way into La Londe the railway formation follows the verge on the D559A (Avenue Albert Roux) and crosses the River Pansard. The bridge trusses remain. The monotone picture below was taken by Robert ROSTAGN in 1996 the second image comes from Google Streetview. The old bridge now carries the cycleway.

This smaller image shows the bridge in plan alongside the highway.

After a re-alignment northwards, the railway line crossed Avenue de l’Eglise (probably Place André Allègre, today). The crossing point is visible below.

The railway line then approached the station at La Londe, still following the line of what is now the D559A. The station at La Londe was rated ‘3rd Class’ but during the war had quite high traffic volumes because of the nearby torpedo factory. The first three pictures below show trains arriving from Saint-Raphael. The fourth shows a train heading towards Saint-Raphael.

La Londe-les-Maures is at the edge of the Maures Mountains and faces out onto the lles d’Or (Golden Islands). Côtes de Provence Wine, flowers (roses, tulips etc.) and herbs, olive groves and cork oaks all add to the appeal of the town. The beaches stretch from the old salt marshes (a nudist beach) to Estagnol (near Fort Bregangon), Miramar, Argentière and on to Pellegrin. All of this makes this small town a prime holiday destination! However, our real interest is the railway and its history and hopefully these pictures aid in gaining a good idea of the station as it was.

La Londe began to develop as a municipality in 1875 when Victor Roux discovered rich mineral deposits. Lead and zince were responsible for turning nan essentially rural laocation dependent on farming and forestry into and industrial area. Mining strated on an industrial scale in 1885 and created numerous jobs.

From 1890 onwards, other veins of minerals were identified across almost two-thirds of the Commune and in parts of Bormes and Collobrières. These mines were so prosperous that they necessitated the construction of a railway in 1899 for the transport of workers and the transport of the ore to the factory where its treatment was done, and its shipment by sea.
Lead ore initially had to be taken away from the area for processing. A foundry was developed to treat the lead locally. It was completed in 1897.

The prosperity of the mine contributed directly to the development of the village (construction of houses, a church, creation of schools, a post office and telegraph office, a gendarmerie, etc …) and the creation of the municipality. Gradually gaining autonomy, La Londe asked for independence from Hyères and was made a commune on 11th January 1901.

The town then took the official name of “Londe Les Maures”. Sadly, as the town grew, the prosperity of the mines decreased. All activity at the mines ceased in 1929. Taking advantage of the available workforce from the declining mine, the Schneider group was formed in Bormettes in 1907, and in 1912 built an armament factory, a subsidiary of the Creusot factories in Burgundy .

This company contributed to the development of the town by building accommodation for its wrokers close to the plant. In 1920, a railway line was created to transport workers, tools and goods to the town. The “Promenade des Annamites”, named in memory of Indochinese soldiers mobilized in France during the First World War and living near this path, follows part of the route today.

In the 1940s, the Navy made use of some buildings and land in Les Bormettes’ It owned, among other things, Château Vernet and the Astrolabe building which had been appropriated by the occupying German troops. After liberation a maritime training centre was developed. In 1972, following a regrouping of Marine schools in St Mandrier, the site became the property of the Ministry of PTT and France Telecom.

Since the 1950s, the town has gradually reinvented itself as a seaside resort with a hinterland of 22 estates and wine chateaux, many greenhouses and the largest olive grove in the Var.

It is the local branch-lines that most interest me. The first was developed around the turn of the 20th Century to serve mining operations and the second served the armaments factory later in the 20th Century.

The armaments factory was on the sea-shore at point ‘A’ on the satellite image provided by Moreau. The route of the later branch-line is marked in yellow and left the main line just to the East of La Londe Station, shown in the top left of the satellite image below.

After the main satellite image below, there is a close up of the station and junction positions. The main-line left the station along the line of what is now called the Impasse du Ruisseau to the South side of the D559A It continued 50 metres or so to the South of the road until close to the River Maravenne. At this point the D559A heads North-east., The railway turned Eastward and crossed the river on a concrete arch bridge.


Dubout says that the image here is of the branch-line to the munitions factory. The works at the coast can be seen on the following images. There are pictures of the mines and of the factory as well as the loading jetty for shipments by sea.

A number of copyright images have been reproduced here from a variety of sources. This image is a case in point. It appears on a search of images relating to La Londe and clearly bears the copyright stamp across the image. Copyright of other images is very difficult to establish as the images are of a significant age. This image is of the jetty on the older branch.

These next few images relate to the munitions and torpedo factory on the seashore and to parts of the line which preceded Schneider’s railway and served the mines which closed in 1929.


Moreau provides images of trains on the branch-line to the factory.

The first is a view of locomotive 0-6-0T No. 79 “Luronne” at the head of the workers’ train from the Schneider torpedo factory in La Londe, circa 1921 (Edmond DUCLOS Collection). The next image is also of the workers’ train at the entrance of the Schneider torpedo factory in La Londe. The locomotive could be the 0-6-0T Krauss No. 78 “La Madeleine” (Gilbert MARI Collection).

The branch shown on Moreau’s plan is the later branch-line built to serve the munitions and torpedo factory. More details of this line and the preceding mineral line are provided in a separate post in this series.

Back to the mainline …. After leaving La Londe the Chemin de Fer du Sud travelled Eastwards on the line of what is now the D559A crossing the River Maravenne and running along what is now the Route de Caroubier before rejoining the D98. Initially, the track formation is hidden by the D98 road construction, but later the formation can be seen on the South side of the road.

The line disappears once again under the D98 and then bears off to the left before swinging back across the line of the road. A short distance later a crossing keepers cottage (or maybe a halt) is visible at the point where the line drifts away from the modern D98. Its position relative to the road suggests that the line was at a lower level and on the South side of the modern road. From this point on the D98 and the old railway diverge and the railway heads into the forest.

A side-road off the D98 passes this side of the crossing keepers cottage in the last of this sequence of photos. The railway line passed just the other side of the building and is the route of a cycle track (Chemin des Renoncules) which runs south of the road swinging away to the South before bridging a small river on Viaduc du Bataillier which was a series of three masonry arches, the side spans being approximately 5 metres and the central span about 10 metres. The viaduct still exists carrying the cycle track. Replacement parapets have been provided in a form more suited to the cycleway.

Immediately after crossing the river there was a small halt called ‘Les Bataillier’ of which nothing remains except steps leading up from the D559. The line then crossed the road at high level. There are photos of this bridge following those of the viaduct. The train seen on the overbridge in 1947 is a 4-6-0T Pinguely series 63 to 66. (Photo Jean-P SCHOEN – LAEDERICH collection)

After crossing the viaduct, trains continued along the line toward Bormes.



[1] Roland Le Corff;, accessed 13th December 2017.

[2] Marc Andre Dubout;, accessed 14th December 2017.

[3] Jean-Pierre Moreau;, accessed 24th December 2017.

[4] José Banaudo; Histoire des Chemins de Fer de Provence – 2: Le Train du Littoral (A History of the Railways of Provence Volume 2: The Costal Railway); Les Éditions du Cabri, 1999.

[5] Roger Farnworth; Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 5 – Toulon to Hyeres (Chemin de Fer de Provence 40);

[6] Roger Farnworth; Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 7 – La Londe & Les Bormettes (Chemin de Fer de Provence 42);

Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 7 – La Londe & Les Bormettes (Chemins de Fer de Provence 42)

La Londe-les-Maures and Les Bormettes

Les Bormettes is one of the oldest place names in the costal area of Var. It goes back to the time when the Bormani, a Celto-Ligurian tribe, settled on the coast. The name now only relates to a district of La Londe, but once it corresponded to a much larger territory, bounded by the Bormes communes to the east, La Garde to the west, Pignans to the north and the sea to the south.

The first traces of human settlement in this district date back to Roman times. According to excavations of the late nineteenth century, the Romans had built a farm at the foot of Hospital Hill. The discovery of millstocks, amphorae and other items testify to farming by the Romans of wheat, olives and wine.

In the Middle Ages, St Martin’s tower which dominates the wine-making castle of Bormettes was built and it seems to have sheltered the first village of La Londe. It appears first to have been a defensive site built by the Ligurians, in the 7th-6th centuries BC, against the Phoenicians raided the coast from the beginning of the Iron Age, perhaps to exploit lead and silver mines. By the 13th Century, St. Martin’s Tower was a fortified site. The village would have been somewhat more transient but would have developed around the castle hill.

On Hospital Hill, near St Martin’s Tower, it is likely that there was a Hospital set up by the Hospitallers of the Order of St. John, to cure crusaders, unless it was one of those leprosaria built in the 7th Century at the time when leprosy was wreaking havoc in Provence. The only trace we have is a watercolour painted by a native of La Londe just before the last vestiges were destroyed by the German armies in 1943. It seems to be a monastic building. A local legend seems to confirm that it was a crusader hospital. The location of this hospital between the beach of Pellegrin (Pellerin) and the Templar Tower in Hyères seems quite justified.

From the 11th Century, Les Bormettes gradually became monastic property, with the birth of the monasteries of Montrieux and La Verne. The monks acquired land and developed farms which were then tenanted out. Les Bormettes’ income went primarily to the Chartreuse de la Verne, they pursued an aggressive land purchase policy which inevitably led to conflict with the monks of Montrieux. Apparently, boundary markers can still be found that mark the boundaries of the land owned by each monastic house. At the end of the 16th century, following the destruction of their chartreuse, the monks of Montrieux withdrew from Les Bormettes. The monks of La Verne then asserted control and built the first of their castles: Les Bormettes between 1588 and 1642 and then that of Bastidon.

These two areas complemented each other. One cultivated wheat, oats and artichokes and one practiced dairy farming and poultry, Les Bormettes also remained as an area of vineayrds while Bastidon that of mulberry and olive trees. The olives of Bastidon were brought to Les Bormettes where the monks had installed an important oil mill in 1704 which provded a significant income to the monastery. According to an inventory of 1790, the fields around Les Bormettes produced 51 urns of nearly 130 hl of oil and 20 barrels of 380 hl of wine.

In 1707, during the War of Spanish Succession, the estate of Les Bormettes was plundered by the Anglo-Dutch, they destroyed produce and torched buildings.

The estate remained in the hands of the Carthusians until 1791. There was little human habitiation until the Revolution. Nationalisation occurred at the Revolution and the land was auctioned off. Pierre Laure, cousin of Joseph Laure who would be the 1st mayor of Londe, acquired the estate. Then in 1855, Horace Vernet (1789-1863) took ownership.

He was attracted by the warmer winter weather of Hyères in the Côte d’Azur. Les Bormettes reminded him of the landscape of Algeria that he immortalized in his paintings. Suffering from pleurisy and anxious to find calm to pass his final years, he purchased the estate and built an eclectically style castle, which he felt appeared a little like a village. He built a chapel, dedicated to Saint Victor, in memory of the monks of Marseille who owned the land in the 11th Century.

In 1874, Victor Roux, a wealthy Marseille financier, bought the estate. He restored the castle and developed the estate, planting a wide variety of palms, mimosas and eucalyptus, which made it one of the most beautiful parks of the coast.

In 1890, he further enlarged the castle and developed the mining in the area., One sign of the prosperity of the estate is the foundry which processed mineral ore locally and so significantly increased its export value.

The mines were very prosperous until the turn of the 20th Century. The richest vein became exhausted and by 1929 all activity had ceased.

But in their heyday, the mines contributed dramatically to the local economy. They resulted in a significant increase in the local population and the development of the small village of La Londe into a town. The town even gave itself a longer name when it formally became a municipality independent of Hyères – ‘La Londe les Maures’.

The Mines of Les Bormettes and their Railways

Around 1875, Victor Roux rediscovered a silver-lead vein on his estate and, a few years later, he created a company to mine the vein. From 1890, other veins were discovered north of La Londe and were also exploited. At the same time the mainline narrow gauge railway from Hyères to Fréjus completed and Victor Roux developed a line which extended from Les Bormettes in the South through La Londe to the mines he was developing North of the town. The railway connected the extraction wells, the treatment workshops, the Argentière pier and the Hyères-Fréjus line. The opposition of the villagers delayed the construction of the most important section between the extraction sites of the north of the commune, the processing plant and the pier until 1899. The veins of minerals in the mines were quickly exhausted and the exploitation of the mines began to decline in 1904 and ceased completely in 1929.

On the hand drawn plan above the route of the mining railway is shown in blue. This does not do justice to the full extent of the system developed by Victor Roux, although the railway north of La Monde on the 1930s Michelin map below would only have been in use from 1899 to 1929.

It is possible to identify the location of the original mines near the sea-shore on both maps, and the location of the foundry. On the map immediately above, the locations of the Verger Mine and the La Rieille are well marked. Using the hand drawn map, it is relatively easy to determine the alignment of the railway tracks close to the coast. It appears that the foundry buildings are now in use as a hotel known as Les Grottes.

I believe that these certificates are shares in the mining company issued at different times 1908, 1922 and 1924. Apart from the first of these images, which is of the foundry, the photographs are of the mine at Les Bormettes and show also the loading jetty to allow minerals to be removed by sea. The dependence on rail, either within the site or for transport to other rail heads is evident in the pictures.

There is evidence of the route of the older railway in the layout of the roads between La Londe and the coast. It is very difficult to find substantive evidence of the railway north of La Londe. The D88 follows the River Pansard on its West bank, there are sporadic lengths of what may well have been the track-bed of the old railway on the East bank of the river. I did not find evidence of a bridge carrying a branch over the river toward what appears to be the location of the Mine du Verger. It is nearly 80 years since the line closed, so perhaps this is not at all surprising. Three pictures of the mine location appear below, these are taken from the mine data site [3]. The first two are of the spoil heaps the third is of the mine location. also provides details of what remains at La Rieille Mine [4] further up the valley of the Pansard and the terminus of the railway. Three photos again. This time the remains are a little more significant.

These last two images (below) before we turn away from the mining operation to focus on the munitions factory show the old jetty alongside the new office building. In the second image the camera has turned to look slightly further to the West and the factory building can be seen behind the offices. The photographs must have been taken after 1913. As the jetty appears still to be in use they cannot date from after 1929.

A little careful study of the image below will reveal much of the layout of the old mineral railway. It also shows the location of the Munitions Factory set up by Schneider – the large building just left of centre at the bottom of the picture.

And finally a link to a presentation about the mines (in French) –

The Munitions Factory at Les Bormettes and its Railway

At the time when mining activity was declining, the local economy was rescued by the arrival of the Schneider Company. Schneider et Cie (later Schneider Electric) purchased some of the land belonging to Victor Roux and eventually built a munitions/armaments factory close to the shore of the Mediterranean. Initially, its activity was limited to sea trials of torpedoes manufactured in the plants of Harfleur and Le Creusot. To this end, an artificial island made of reinforced concrete, was built in 1908, off the tip of Léoube (Bormes). This is where the first torpedoes made in France were tested.

The people of La Londe called this artificial island the ‘sewing machine’.

Then in 1912, following a large order of torpedoes from France and Italy, the design office from Le Havre settled here. A weapons factory was proposed and built. It was an imposing building, near Tamaris beach that would manufacture parts for the army and it was completed in 1913. By the start of the Great War, 234 torpedoes had been made. During the war, the factory mainly made parts for the army (shells, plane parts, etc.) From 1913 to 1920, Henri-Paul Schneider built housing around the factory for his workers; 103 houses and 11 villas in all. The new village was endowed with a food cooperative, a school, a village hall, a post office, a bakery, a bar, public showers and a sports hall.

People living at Les Bormettes began to have a much better standard of living than people on La Londe les Maures.

Interestingly an Alsatian company called ‘Astrolabe Omininium East’, specializing in film acquired the Castle Bormettes. They were actually a name behind which the German secret service could hide and monitor activity at the torpedo factory. It was expropriated in 1936 and ownership was given to the French Navy.

In the Second World War, the Schneider factory was requisitioned by the Germans when they occupied the Free Zone at the end of 1942, until the allied landing in Provence on 15th August 1944.

In 1972, Castle Bormettes was sold by the Navy, along with the wider estate, to the General Directorate of Telecommunications (today France Telecom) and the Bormettes factory stopped working in 1993.

The railway leading to the works is shown in nearby photographs and its formation remains along much of its length as a cycleway named for the people who built it – Promenade des Annamites.

The final images in this post are shared with the previous post which focusses on the Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France main-line. They show images of the factory, part of the village developed for it and the railways that served it.

The last two images in this post are of trains which served the factory. They have both been provided by Jean-Pierre Moreau. The first is a view of locomotive 0-6-0T No. 79 “Luronne” at the head of the workers’ train from the Schneider torpedo factory in La Londe, circa 1921 (Edmond DUCLOS Collection). The second is also of the workers’ train at the entrance of the Schneider torpedo factory in La Londe. The locomotive could be the 0-6-0T Krauss No. 78 “La Madeleine” (Gilbert MARI Collection).


[1], accessed 28th December 2017

[2] Freddy Genot;, accessed 27th December 2017.

[3], accesses 28th December 2017.

[4] Roland Le Corff;, accessed 13th December 2017.

[5] Marc Andre Dubout;, accessed 14th December 2017

[6] Jean-Pierre Moreau;, accessed 24th December 2017.

[7] José Banaudo; Histoire des Chemins de Fer de Provence – 2: Le Train du Littoral (A History of the Railways of Provence Volume 2: The Costal Railway); Les Éditions du Cabri, 1999.

[8] Roger Farnworth; Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 6 – Hyeres to Bormes les Mimosas (Chemin de Fer de Provence 41);

[9] Other pictures from all over the internet which are not included in the main text of this post …

Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 5 – Toulon to Hyeres (Chemins de Fer de Provence 40)


Details of the Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France from Toulon to Saint-Raphael are culled from a number of sources. Three significant ones are: Roland Le Corff [1], Marc Andre Dubout [2] and Jean-Pierre Moreau [3]. Others will be referred to as we follow the route of the line.

The Station in Toulon was in an attractive location close to the waterfront. Sadly it has been completely demolished and the land developed. To help in identifying locations along the line we will work on Toulon Station being at kilometre point zero. The district of Toulon where it was situated is La Rode. And its site is now that of a school – Dumont d’Urville high school. The station site included a good shed, an engine shed for stabling up to four locomotives, three goods sidings, four passenger platform lines, a 120 cubic metre water tower and two hydraulic cranes. Two excellent images show the location of the station in relation to the water front. The lower, line-drawn image shows the sidings of the Chemin de Fer du Sud which left the main line just 50 metres from the station throat and provided direct access to the quay side.

The next two images from the website maintained by Jean-Pierre Moreau not only give a really good impression of the layout of the station at Toulon. They also show clearly the changes in Toulon since the station closed.

The station was a handsome building, as the next early image shows. On the northwest corner of the building there was a double-faced clock which allowed the time to be seen all over the area of the Port-Marchand.

In the adjacent plan (dated 1926) the Station building (1) sits alongside the freight branch to the dockside (2) The repair shop (3) is 70 metres or so from the Station building. The water tower is next to the engine shed (4); the track bends sharply (5) then and crosses the bridge over the Eygoutier River (6). The River Eygoutier is also known as the River Amoureux.

Before we leave Toulon’s Gare du Sud behind we need to confirm one thing which impacts the layout of La Rode and which means that the original position of the station now appears much further from the quay side of the port. Bombing in WW2 devastated the port. Post war rebuilding saw areas of the dock reclaimed. The harbour is now significantly altered in layout compared with its pre-war condition. This leaves the station site further from the quay than it was before WW2.

After the railway had crossed the river it followed the river bank on the southern side of the river for a little under a kilometre where it crossed Ligne 7 (La Gare to Cap Brun-Magaud) of the tramway network at Le Pont de l’Abattoir by a level crossing. This is marked with a blue line on the right side of the map above. A halt was opened here in 1937.

It travelled on towards St-Jean-du-Var (a halt opened here at the same time as Toulon Gare du Sud) and on through La Barre, La Palasse, Collet de Gipon, Armeniers and Pont-du-Suve. Halts were opened in 1905 at both Armeniers and Pont-du-Suve and in both cases the buildings still survive.

The buildings at Armeniers and Pont-du-Suve are typical of the small buildings which were present at halts in the suburbs of Toulon. Armeniers halt was just over 3 kilometres from Toulon Gare du Sud. It is now a private house. The image comes from Google Streetmap.

From the immediate suburbs of Toulon to Le Pradet, the route of the old railway has been converted into a cycleway which follows the River Eygoutier. The aerial view at Pont-de-Suve (4.4 kilometres from Toulon Station) shows both the cycleway and the halt building.

At Le Pradet the cycleway on the formation of the railway runs directly alongside the D559 (Avenue General Brosset). Two shots of the cycleway looking abck towards Toulon are followed by a picture of Halt at Le Pont Clue on the way into La Pradet and shows the cycleway in the foreground alongside the D559 road. We are now 6.3 kilometres from Toulon Station! The next halt is just before entering La Pradet at what was called Les Gravettes (and now-a-days is known as Les Gravettes-Pin-de-Galle). Opened in 1905, the building still exists.


8.7 kilometres from The Gare du Sud in Toulon we arrive at La Pradet Station. It was a more significant stop on the line with passenger facilities, a goods shed, two goods sidings, a passing loop serving two platforms, a 50 cubic-metre water tower and three hydraulic cranes. The Station building still exists, converted into housing it sits close to a cultural centre – “Espace des Arts”, effectively enveloped by it! Little else of the site remains. The first image was taken in 2004 by Jacques Lahitte. The second modern image was taken from Google Streetview in 2017.


Three old postcards give a reasonable impression of the station in its heyday!

It was an important station on the line because it provided a loading point for copper ore. In 1950, the station was purchased by the municipality to form a girls’ school.


Leaving La Pradet the railway formation followed the D559 road and now-a-days continues to be used as a dedicated cycleway. Halts were opened with the railway line at La Bayette, La Moutonne and La Colle-Noire.

At La Colle-Noire a short branch left the Chemin de Fer du Sud mainline to provide a rail link to a mine at Cap Garonne – a copper mine.

The branch-line to the Cap Garonne copper mine was 4 kilometres long. It left the mainline between La Moutonne and La Colle-Noire and allowed the transport of copper ore to Toulon. The line was steeply graded and was, from 1907 equipped with the Hanscotte system. The engineer Jules Étienne Hanscotte developed a system to ensure the stability of the train with horizontal wheels in pressure against a central rail it allowed trains to adhere effectively one grades much steeper than normal. The most well-known application in France of the Hanscotte system was the Puy de Dôme tram, which ran from 1907 to 1926.

The Cap Garonne mine was opened in 1873. It was in English hands from that date until 1884. It was owned by John Morley Unwin. It employed about 40 workers during this time. Ownership was transferred to a Mr. Roux after a period in liquidation. He owned the mine from 1892 to 1899. At that time, a small factory was built at the mine for manufacture of copper sulphate from poor quality arisings. The mine was in operation until 1917, served by the branch from 1906 onwards.

The approximate route of the branch is shown on the adjacent extract from the 1930s Michelin map of the area.

The branch left the mainline adjacent to these modern greenhouses and followed a straight path across relatively level ground, before wandering around La Colle-Noire.

The satellite image from Google Earth allows the route of the line to be identified quite easily. In the image below, the route runs diagonally from the North-east to the South-west. In the smaller image the route runs from the middle-top to the mine location at the bottom of the image.

These images show that it is easy to identify the line the immediately following image picks out that line. It comes from the website of Jean-Pieree Moreau.

Marc Andre Dubout provides a few images to help us identify with the area. The first is this accommodation bridge.


The second image shows the factory. He comments that this second image is an overview of the mine and factory now transformed into a museum, with the railway passing immediately behind the buildings.

There are other images which can be found on the internet and some of these follow here. Hopefully they will give a good indication of the size of the operation.

As noted above, the mine closed in 1917 and was only in use after that for a short time as a mushroom farm (1946-1953) before the museum was opened in 1994.

In the years after 1953, the galleries remained open and the mine was looted. Even though the mine was no longer commercially viable for the extraction of copper, it still retained an extraordinary richness of mineral deposits. It was and is host to over 100 different minerals of significant scientific interest. By 1984, environmental considerations and the need to preserve the integrity of the site for heritage purposes resulted in local authorities protecting the site. The mine was situated in the heart of a forest of 300 hectares of significant scientific interest. The three communes that owned the museum formed an inter-communal syndicate which took the decision to close all accesses to the mine to prevent looting in 1990.

The communes of La Pradet, La Garde and Carqueiranne took the shared decision to create a museum at the site. The museum opened in 1994. Displays inside the museum aid in understanding the operation of the mine, give good examples of the minerals which have been extracted within the mine and enable visitors better to understand the mineral composition of ground rocks in the area.

The brochure says: “In the heart of a unique forest overlooking the Mediterranean, the old copper mines of Cap Garonne are among the five most beautiful mineralogical sites in the world. The diversity, the richness, the scientific interest of the identified crystals attract researchers from all over the world. This is the only French museum of copper and micro-minerals. It reveals how humanity has used copper over time, the place that copper has held in our daily lives, how the mine has changed with the changes of civilization, the current uses of copper. In addition, visitors will have a fantastic journey to the heart of the earth. From the life of the miners to the history of the rock, the visit of the mine is a living lesson, a fascinating adventure for young and old.”

The branch-line junction was controlled by means of a ground-frame contained in a small wooden cabin and telegraph apparatus enabled the branch working to demand access onto the mainline for access to the sidings at La Pradet. Once the mine had closed in 1917 there was little need for the branch, however, it does not seem to have been formally closed until 1928 and the track was not lifted until 1930.

Beyond the Cap Garonne branch-line, the modern D559 by-passes the centre of Carqueiranne and to do so it follows the formation of the old railway main-line. A cycleway has been built alongside the by-pass but the formation is hidden under the main carriageway.

About 12 kilometres from Toulon Station a small halt was opened in 1937 at Paradise.

Carqueiranne Station is reached just over 14 kilometres along the railway from Toulon Gare du Sud. It opened in 1905 had had a similar status to the station at La Pradet (3rd class with a goods shed, two main tracks and a good siding). Today, the station houses the police offices. The locomotive which can be seen adjacent to the station is a reminder from the municipal authorities of the historic use of the site. It is, however, misleading.

The locomotive is a 0-4-0 built in 1921 by Henschel & Sohn in Kassel, Germany. It was given the number 18524 and was sold to the F. Béghin sugar refinery at Thumeries (North). It was never used on the Cap Garonne branch, nor on the Chemin de Fer du Sud. It is a standard gauge locomotive and the lines we are interested in are metre-gauge.

I love looking at these old postcards. I don’t know what that is really all about. Perhaps it is nostalgia. But it is more likely to be something to do with fascination for what things used to be like. There wasn’t anything better about those times, but they were different. They were times of amazing progress, but still times of poverty and inequality.

Leaving Carqueiranne, the Chemin de Fer du Sud followed the coast-road through two halts, one at Beau Rivage and Fontbrun. Just before arriving at San Salvadour, 16.1 kilometres from the Gare du Sud, the formation passed in tunnel under the D559 and emerged on the right-hand side of the road.

The tunnel was 284 metres long and on a curved alignment. The postcard below is taken looking through San Salvadour Station towards the Eastern portal of the tunnel.

16.5 kilometres from Toulon Station we arrive at San-Salvadour – Mont-des-Oiseaux Station. This station was of greater importance than earlier ones on our journey. So much so that at the formal opening of the line this station played a significant role. The inaugural train stopped at the station on 6th August 1905.

The station opened with the railway in 1905, it qualified as a 2nd Class Station and the passenger facilities were slightly improved over those we have seen on the line since we left Toulon. There was a good shed, as can be seen above, two platforms served passengers and there was a goods siding as well. The two remaining buildings – the passenger station building, and the goods shed – are used as outbuildings by the nearby hospital. They can be seen alongside the D559 not far from the sea-shore. The railway formation continues to be used as a cycleway close to the road. Below the photograph of the station buildings today there are a sequence of photos, of trains arriving, from St. Raphael, at San Salvadour Station.

These last two postcards show two of the more significant buildings close to the station – the first is the marine hospital/sanatorium of Du Monts des Oiseaux, the second is the Grand Hotel and the Chateau.

The two remaining station buildings are at the centre of the satellite image above.

As we leave San Salvadour Station the line heads eastwards for a short distance before sweeping in an arc away from the coast and heading north towards Hyeres, passing through a small halt at L’Almanarre-Pomponiana (L’Amanarre before 1911), 18 kilometres from the start of our journey. San Salavdour Station is marked ‘A’ on the aerial photograph below and L’Amanarre Halt is marker ‘H’.

L’Amanarre Halt is notorious for a bad accident which happened here on the line in 1911. However, all evidence of the Halt is buried under the modern roundabout junction between the D559 and the D42 roads.

Travelling north from this location the railway formation closely followed the modern D559. Once again, a cycleway runs alongside the road on the approximate line of the railway formation. Before arriving at Hyeres, the railway passed through three more halts at Costebelle, Le Palyvestre and Les Nartettes and then passed under the PLM line from Hyeres to Les Salins d’Hyeres.

After the under-bridge, the line arrived at an interesting triangular junction formed when the mainline from St. Raphael was extended to Toulon. The original terminus of the line, close to the PLM station became a lesser station and gradually changed into a trans-shipment location for goods.

Jean-Piere Mareau has pulled together plans of the area and ariel photographs and imposed these onto satellite images from Google Earth. The resulting images are of great interest.
First, we see the aerial image of the route of the Chemin de Fer du Sud and the triangular junction which interestingly picks up a number of goods wagons on sidings on the PLM line.

The second image is a composite satellite and aerial image which shows both the PLM Station and the Chemin de Fer du Sud transhipment wharves. Both stations show evidence of significant amounts of good traffic.

This close up of the aerial image shows the PLM station the station square, the hotel ‘Terminus des Deux Gares’ (marked with the arrow) and the Chemin de Fer du Sud Hyeres Echange Station (marked with the tag).

In the image which shows the full elevation of the hotel, the terminus building for the Chemin de Fer du Sud can just be picked out on the far right of the photograph. The hotel and the terminus building have long-gone and have been replaced by modern development.

Moreau’s final contribution at this site is, for me at least, the most interesting. He has overlaid a hand-drawn plan of the Hyeres Echange Station onto the modern Google Satellite image. The composite image is shown below. It sows clearly the complexity of the track layout and a sense of the importance of the station. The Station opened in 1890 and was the terminus of the line from St. Raphael before the extension to Toulon was built. It had passenger and goods facilities, an engine shed which could house 4 locomotives, two platforms for passengers and three main goods sidings. In 1900, longer goods transhipment sidings were installed. In 1907, modifications were made which focussed on good transhipment at the station.

Travelling on from the triangular junction, after a short deviation to the North-east, the line continues North, a hundred metes or so to the east of the D559 before turning North-east again and entering Hyeres Station. This is the end of this part of our journey.

[1] Roland Le Corff;, accessed 13th December 2017.
[2] Marc Andre Dubout;, accessed 14th December 2017
[3] Jean-Pierre Moreau;, accessed 24th December 2017.
[4] José Banaudo; Histoire des Chemins de Fer de Provence – 2: Le Train du Littoral (A History of the Railways of Provence Volume 2: The Costal Railway); Les Éditions du Cabri, 1999.

Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 4 – Toulon to Les Salins d’Hyeres (Chemins de Fer de Provence 39)

The PLM Railway Line from Toulon to Hyères and Les Salins-d’Hyères

Le Chemin de Fer du Sud faced competition from three different forms of transport. Road transport increasingly became significant as years went by; there was also a tramway from Toulon to Hyères. Details of this line can be found in my post about the Tramways of Toulon. [1]

Alternatively, goods and passengers could use the PLM Branch Line which served Hyères and Les Salins-d’Hyères. This post focuses on that line which is still in use today. On the map below, the tramway is shown in green and the PLM route in pink.

Trains from Toulon to Les Salins-d’Hyères followed the PLM main-line travelling East from Toulon Station. The line travelled East of La Garde as it turned north and then crossed the line of the Toulon-Hyères tramway. The branch left the main-line just north of La Gare de la Pauline. Its trajectory was then generally in a South-easterly direction, running south of Hyères. It met the coast at La Hippodrome de la Plage where it turned to the north-east and followed the coastline into Les Salins-d’Hyères.

The adjacent map shows the three different lines which served Hyères, and the relative positions of their stations in relation to the town. The picture below is of the platforms at Toulon station. The pictures which follow show the PLM station at Hyères.

Hyères PLM Station is of a very similar style to other secondary stations on the PLM network. It now formed the terminus of the branch-line as rails from Hyères to Les Salins d’Hyères have been lifted.

Hyères station was commissioned on 6th December 1875 when the PLM opened the first section of the line. It became a through station on 10th July 1876 when the extension to Les Salins d’Hyères was completed.


The overhead image below was taken in the 1930s. It shows the PLM station and to the bottom right, the triangle which facilitated freight transfer to the Chemin de Fer du Sud. Notice how little development there has been around the station site.

The picture below shows the early means of transport from the station into Hyères – horse-drawn carriages.

The next image is an up-to-date satellite image of the station and its environs. Clearly, in the 21st Century, the area is considerably more developed than it was in the 1930s and car parks have replaced goods sidings. The pictures which follow show the station in the 21st Century.

Within a few hundred yards of the station the line is truncated at buffer stops. What is perhaps surprising is that the route of the line through to Les Salins d’Hyères can still easily be picked out on satellite images.

In the image above, Les Salins d’Hyères is in the top right and Hyères Station can be seen in the top left. The tight radius as the line approaches the coast is clearly visible centre-bottom of the image below the airport.

Marc Andre Dubout has provided some pictures to supplement those available as historic postcards which show the last few kilometres of the branch as they approach the coast and travel North-east along it. The first few pictures are of the Station Hyeres La Plage.


These two pictures show the station after closure and the cycle track which replaced the railway alongside the coast road. The following picture shows a hotel and the airport. The line of the railway is still visible alongside the coast road.


Just before reaching Les Salins d’Hyeres the railway crossed the mouth of Le Gapeau River.

We have a few photos of the station  and its environs, including the remains of the water tower.

The next couple of photos are contemporary, the first looking towards Hyeres and showing the remaining platform edge.

And the second is of what is assumed to be a railway workers accommodation block and which seems to be contemporary to the station itself.

The following pictures are of the work undertaken to extract salt from the salt marshes near the village. At one time this was a highly labour intensive operation.

These images were sourced from a variety of sites on the internet, usually sites selling cards for collectors. A few of the postcard views were obtained from the site maintained by Marc Andre Dubout. [2]


[1] Roger Farnworth: Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 3 – Trams in Toulon and Hyeres (Chemin de Fer de Provence 38):

[2] Marc Andre Dubout:,  accessed 23rd December 2017

Timing is Everything – Luke 1:26-38

Today, Sunday 24th December 2017, is the 4th Sunday of Advent and it just so happens that this year it is also Christmas Eve. This evening and tonight we will be listening once again to parts of the Christmas story, but this morning, along with every church that follows the lectionary, we are remembering Mary and her role as a precursor, a witness, to the coming of the King and her role as mother of Jesus. Our fourth candle on the Advent wreath represents Mary.

Timing is everything.

The Gospel reading set for this morning is usually read every year on one particular date, the Feast of the Annunciation which falls on 25th March each year – unless its date clashes with Easter or a Sunday.

Timing is everything.

The liturgical and calendar scholars among us will have noticed that 25th March, is exactly 9 months before Christmas Day. Our gospel reading makes a lot of sense as part of the Christmas story, but seemingly less so in March at or around Easter time. However, most of us will recognise that when we are talking about pregnancy, 9 months is a very important time period. The feast of the Annunciation is very carefully placed exactly 9 months before the birth of Jesus – which suggests that Jesus was neither a premature nor a late baby!

I was born on 11th May 1960, 9 months was a very important period for me – for my parents were married on 1st August 1959 (9 months and 10 days before I was born). I count as a honeymoon baby – but if pregnancies were usually 10 months then there would be something different to say about my status!

Timing is everything.

So, around Easter time each year, just as we are today, we are reminded of Mary’s call to be the Mother of God. Mary hears words from the Angel Gabriel which cause her heart to miss at least one beat – called to be the God bearer, the Theotokos, called to co-operate with God in creating his Saviour, called to bear the stigma of being with child out of wedlock. Both gift and burden, both grace and shame.

As we move on through our liturgical year, through Christmas and on to the Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas, we will be starkly reminded of Simeon’s words to Mary. For her, not only would the pregnancy be a long a difficult time of waiting – but the whole of her life was to be spent waiting for a painful end.

And as we travel towards Easter, we will be reminded even more starkly of Mary’s encounters with joy and suffering. On Good Friday, we will appreciate again that Mary understood pain – she bore in her body the pain of the cross – she felt the nails being hammered into the wrists of her son, she agonised as she watched him die the most painful of deaths. She had to release her child into God’s eternal care long before his time. And, as those things happened, she felt a mixture of all the emotions a mother can feel – anger, guilt, shame, and deep aching loss. Like any mother, her grief was to be unbearable.

Mary also understood the joy of motherhood – she watched her precocious child grow to be a wonderful man. She felt the joy of being part of the making of this special son. And on the first Easter Sunday she had her son returned to her alive – wonderful, exciting, tremendous … but then she too, along with all those who knew Jesus, had to realise that she could not cling on to her Son. He was returning to his Father in heaven.

Timing is everything.

Here today we are called, by our Gospel reading, to see the Christmas events and those events which follow in the spring-time of our church year through the eyes of a mother – the eyes of Mary. We are called today to encounter Mary’s confusion at the words of the Angel. We are called too, to encounter Mary’s pain alongside the suffering of Christ, and as we do so, the pain will be just that bit more tangible.

We are called to feel the despair and the loss of Good Friday as we sit with Mary at the foot of the cross weeping for the loss of her beautiful son. And, if we are prepared to weep those deep tears of loss; if, in just a little way, we endeavour to identify with all mothers who have lost those they love; if, at least for a few days at Easter, we refuse to rush on to the joy of resurrection, because we have learnt patience like a pregnant mother waiting for the birth of her child; if we stay with the pain. If we struggle to understand the overwhelming and crushing burden of the grandmothers who because of HIV/AIDs now are sole carers for many of the grandchildren. Our encounter with the joy of Christmas in the services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, will be all the more intense.

For we will have understood the burden of pain carried by Mary and we will encounter something of the release she felt from the pains of labour as she welcomed her son into the world as a helpless child at Christmas. We might even feel something of the unbelievable joy of holding God in our own hands and arms, just as Mary did on that first Christmas Day. We might even feel some of the pride that she felt at the birth of her child and something too of her overwheming desire to tell everyone about the wonder of the Christ-child and that faith that was born with him.

Timing is everything – not 9 months but less than a day before the birth – this is a very important day in our preparation for Christmas. Now is our chance to listen, … to focus on the Christmas story. Let’s not let it slip by.

Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 3 – Trams in Toulon and Hyeres (Chemins de Fer de Provence 38)

Tramways in Toulon and the Surrounding Area

As the fifteenth city of France, Toulon warranted a tram network. Trams first operated in the city in 1886. [1] The map below shows the network in the 1930s. The last trams ran in 1955.

The maps above are the best I could find researching the internet. They give a reasonable impression of the extent of the network at its height. Each in their own way highlighting different things. The last is from the Wikipedia article on the Trams of Toulon.[2] The one above that comes from the web pages of Roland Le Corff.[3]

Two different tramway networks are evident on the plan provided by Le Corff. The urban network and the tramways of Western Var. Those of the Western Var must of necessity be a matter for another day or time. There is an excellent website dedicated to all sorts of things related to Toulon, and in particular its trams, developed by Roland Le Corff (Mes Annees 50).[4]

The History of Toulon’s Urban Tram Network

Toulon’s tramway era began on 17th January, 1881, the date of the inauguration of the very first Bon-Rencontre to Pont-de-Saint-Jean-du-Var line with trams pulled by horses.

Le Corff says that the early ancestor of the tramway was invented in 1775 by Englishman John Outram (whose name well have resulted in the use of the word ‘tram’); Outram’s vehicle, pulled by two horses, ran on two rows of cast iron rails but did not operate in towns. In 1832, John Stephenson built the first urban streetcar in New York between upper Manhattan and Harlem.

In 1852, the Frenchman, Alphonse Loubat , a native of Nantes, proposed the idea of rails embedded in the roadway Loubat’s idea was an immediate success. Loubat built a line on 6th Avenue in New York in 1852; in 1853 it was the turn of Paris between the Place de la Concorde and Saint-Cloud.

Horse-powered trams were very successful, but their range was limited because horses tire. The animals could only travel about 20 km per day and needed a rest every hour (loads were heavy despite the advantages of rails). Moreover, housing, feeding, veterinary care, etc. were all expensive. Dung was also a problem. Mechanical trams were mooted and first attempted in Parish in 1876. Options were considered including steam and compressed air.

Le Corff says that the first electric tram was shown by Werner Siemens at the Berlin exhibition in 1881, a little later, the first operational electric tram line was built in 1888 by the American Frank Julian Sprague (a 27 km line in Richmond in Virginia). 10 years later, 40,000 cars were circulating in the United States. In France, the first electric motor circulated in Clermont-Ferrand on 7th January 1890.

At the end of the 19th century, Toulon had grown significantly, new buildings had been developed along the Boulevard de Strasbourg between 1860 and 1890. The PLM Station was opened in 1852. The outlying districts had expanded: distances from the centre of Toulon were increasing for commuters and services were limited. Horse-drawn buses were working. Small omnibuses served the suburbs, pulled by two horses. The two larger images below show a typical omnibus in Puget Square, and Le Place Armand Vallée which was the starting point of services to the villages of the Var.[5]

The intention to provide a horse-drawn tram network was announced by the State on 18th January 1876. It was not until 16th January 1886 that two lines serving St-Jean du Var and Bon Rencontre were established.

Another line was completed from Place Louis Blanc to Le Mourillon in 1889. Then one to Bains Sainte-Hélène. In 1892, another length was constructed from Valettois to Camille Ledeau.
A switch from horse-drawn trams to electric power was requested and considered by local councils in 1896. On 30th July 1897, the first electric trams ran on the line between Bon Rencontre and Valletta. Everything went very well and further electrification took place. The network reached its fullest extent in 1911.

The network went into decline during and after the war. Poor maintenance left the vehicles and tramways in a parlous condition and the population of Toulon welcomed the eventual replacement of the trams by trolley-buses. The first trolley-buses went into service in 1949. The last trams ran in 1955.

Sadly, no effort at preservation was made. Trams were scrapped almost immediately after their last trips.


The route which most interests us for the purposes of this series about the Chemin de Fer du Sud Littoral is that length of tramway between Toulon and Hyeres.

Trams from Toulon to Hyeres

As can be seen on the map below there was a tram route in direct competition with both the PLM branch to Hyeres and the Chemin de Fer du Sud. Ultimately, this competition was to make the tramway and the two railway routes struggle to guarantee enough income to survive. Ultimately, only the PLM branch-line survives in 2017.

Routes Nos. 1 and 9 are the ones which most interest us, particularly route 9 which served Hyeres. The picture below the map is taken at the junction of Route 1 and Route 9 on the south side of the railway line in the picture above. The Depot Brunet is beyond the railway bridge which can be seen in the distance. The photographer is on Boulevard Marechal Joffre (D97). The road to the right is Avenue Joseph Gasquet (D559). The layout is similar in 2017! The railway bridge has been replaced and the tramlines are long-gone but the building at the centre of the picture remains.

This is the railway bridge in the last postcard. It carried the PLM line over Boulevard Marechal Joffre. Close by was the main depot and maintenance yard for the tram network – Brunet Depot. The picture below shows the same location today on Boulevard Marechal Joffre today.

Brunet Depot was the main storage and maintenance depot on the Toulon tram network. It is still in use as a transport depot today. The line Réseau Mistral use the depot.

Travelling East, Boulevard Marechal Joffre gives way to Avenue Colonel Picot and access to the bus depot (the old tram depot) is on the right down Rue Octave Virgily.

Beyond the tramway depot, Ligne 1 continued to follow the D97 and then the D246 to La Valette du Var. The tram tracks then travel further East on the D98 on the North side of the Campus of Toulon University to Les 4 Chemins.

Ligne 9 leaves Boulevard Marechal Joffre along Avenue Joseph Gasquet (D559). It follows the D559 and then the D29 through La Garde to Les 4 Chemins. It then runs to the south of Gare de la Pauline-Hyeres on the D98. Trams continued along the D98, the D46 and the D554 to Hyeres.

The Green line on this map shows the tramline in Hyeres.

The route approached the centre of Hyeres on Avenue des Iles d’Or. This then became Avenue Alphonse Denis in the centre of Hyeres (although the stretch of road on which the terminus of the tramway was placed is now known as the Avenue General de Gaulle).


[1] Wikipedia;, accessed 20th December 2017.

[2] Wikipedia;, accessed 20th December 2017.

[3] R. Le Corff;, accessed 20th December 2017.

[4] R. Le Corff;, accessed 20th December 2017.

[5] Gabriel Bonnafoux & Albert Clavel; 1880-1980: Un Siecle de Transports en Commun dans l’Agglomeration Toulonnaise, Atelier du Beausset – 83330 Le Beausset, 1985.

Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 2 – Toulon (Chemins de Fer de Provence 37)

The history of the line from Toulon to Saint-Raphael was short. The full line was open by 1905 and closed by 1948 and was out of use or in a poor state of repair during both World Wars. Find out more in my post: Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 1 (Chemin de Fer de Provence 36)[1]

We will follow the line from Toulon towards St. Raphael, initially taking time to understand the rail and tram networks in Toulon.


Toulon was not connected to the Chemin de Fer du Sud Littoral until sometime after the line opened. Objections were raised initially by the PLM, which, while it had supported the construction of the line from St. Raphael to Hyeres, was concerned about possible competition over the longer route and had provided its own link between Hyeres and Toulon. Demand grew for an extension to Toulon and a line was eventually opened in 1905.

The featured image above is a Michelin map from the 1930s which comes from the website/blog of Marc Andre Dubout.[2] The map below is an extract from the Western end of the featured image focussing on the city of Toulon. Apart from the obvious road detail on the map there are three features with noting. The first is the route we are going to follow which is shown in blue. The second, a fluorescent pink line, is the route of the PLM’s railway along the coast to Nice (which turns away north near La Crau and a branch from the PLM mainline to Hyeres and Les Salins-d’Hyeres. The third, in bright green, is the tramway from Toulon to Hyeres. This is shown as a castellated line on the map alongside the GC129 or N87, and N98, extending West towards Toulon, and East towards Hyeres. In different ways, at different times these four modes of transport were in competition or alliance with each other and with road transport as well.

Toulon is a port city on southern France’s Mediterranean coast, lined with sandy beaches and shingle coves. It’s a significant naval base and the harbour is home to submarines and warships, as well as fishing boats and ferries. The grand Musée National de la Marine in the Port of Toulon exhibits maritime artefacts. Rugged limestone mountains form a backdrop to the city. And a cable-car shuttles visitors up Mont Faron.

Toulon is the capital of the Department of the Var. The Commune of Toulon had a population of about 165,000 in 2010 making it the fifteenth-largest city in France. It is the centre of an urban area with 559,421 inhabitants (2008), the ninth largest in France. Toulon is the third-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseilles and Nice.

Toulon is an important centre for naval construction, fishing, wine making, and the manufacture of aeronautical equipment, armaments, maps, paper, tobacco, printing, shoes, and electronic equipment. The military port is the major naval centre on France’s Mediterranean coast, home of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and her battle group. The French Mediterranean Fleet is also based in Toulon.[3]

The PLM[4] line from Marseilles to Nice via Toulon was completed in 1864, eighteen years after it first arrived in Marseilles and four years after Les Alpes Maritimes became part of France in 1860 and Nice became its capital.

The PLM Station in Toulon

As a significant city in France, Toulon warranted a grand station. The PLM did not disappoint. This is what the station looks like today. The original overall roof of the train-shed (see later pictures from the last century and 3D modelling drawings) has gone but the frontage and building remain.

The satellite image below gives some idea of the extent of the passenger facilities and platforms. Sidings and goods facilities extend in either direction beyond the road bridges at each end of the platforms.

The following images come from earlier times. They show the station with its train-shed intact and some show the trams that served the station.

  The station is at the far end of L’Avenue Vauban


The photo below is of a 3D reconstruction of Toulon PLM as a CAD drawing.

Trams in and around Toulon, and the PLM branch to Hyeres and Les Salins-d’Hyeres

Details of the tramways of Toulon, and the branch-line are covered in other posts in this series.[5],[6]


Chemin de Fer du Sud Station in Toulon

As we have already noted the Chemin de Fer du Sud arrived late in in Toulon. The first services were operating in 1905. The station was also separated by some distance from the PLM station further north in the city. The images that appear next give an insight into the construction and layout of the station. The buildings, sadly, no longer exist and the site has been redeveloped. The first picture is of the opening ceremony.

The station after closure

A large part of the Station was badly damaged in the bombing of 24th November 1943. The north wing got blown up and the glass roof lost almost all of its glazing. In the Spring of 1944 (29th April in particular) the station was hit again. After liberation, the north wing was cleared and cordoned off with a palisade. Things remained like this until the line was closed.[7]

The bomb damage to the north wing.

The station after closure


Beautiful old postcard of the early 20th century (around 1905) an overloaded tram carries its passengers towards the Mourillon. In front of the gateway to the South Station, a man in a boater poses patiently with his hands in his pockets. You can see behind it the vast buildings of the station (a “U” sheltered by a large glass roof which houses the tracks and platforms).[8]

The final picture was taken by R. Le Corff in the 1960s. Trolleybus posts can be seen in the foreground and show the line being followed by the tram in the picture above. He comments: “New arteries, streets and buildings have sprouted everywhere. Dumont d’Urville high school was built on the former site of the Station (I attended the school in 1967-68) – We see here a fairly old photo of the school (taken to 1968-70) because the trolleybus posts are still in place. unless I’m mistaken, this is the entrance located at Avenue de Lattre de Tassigny, about where we see the tram on the picture above.”



[2] Marc Andre Dubout;, accessed 14th December 2017

[3] Wikipedia;, accessed 19th December 2017

[4] Railway Wonders of the World, Through Southern France;, accessed 18th November 2017



[7] R. Le Corff;, accessed 20th December 2017.

[8] R. Le Corff;, accessed 20th December 2017.

Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 1 – History (Chemins de Fer de Provence 36)

Toulon to St. Raphael – ‘Le Macaron’

Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France

Ligne du Littoral – Part 1

This railway ran along the Mediterranean coast in the department of Var in Provence in Southern France. When the PLM built its railway from Marseilles to Nice is chose an inland route bypassing the costal towns of Var.

I guess that the board of the PLM, in their wisdom, felt that they would gain most from the quickest possible route linking Marseilles, Cannes, Nice and Monaco. And who is to say that they were wrong.

Nevertheless, this left a significant portion of the coast adrift with no rail service. The Chemin de Fer du Sud stepped in to provide a metre gauge service along the coast. The line eventually extended from Toulon to St. Raphael and was not connected to the rest of the Chemin de Fer du Sud system. It was the most southerly of the three mainlines of that system.

The PLM line left the coast at St. Raphael in the North-East and returned to the coast at Toulon. The metre gauge line had a large station at Toulon and followed the coast through Hyères and Frejus back to St. Raphael, with branches to St. Tropez and Cogolin. The area just inland is known as the Massif de Maures.

The line, 110 kilometres was long, followed the coast for most of its route. The tightest radius was 100 metres. The line was most often on its own formation, sometimes on a protected roadside platform alongside what was then the N559 or the D98.

History of the Line[1]

The PLM, at first, welcomed the construction of a metre gauge line as it anticipated that it would only increase traffic on its own system. The decision to begin the work on the laine was taken in 1887. The first 33 kilometre-long section from Saint-Raphaël to Cogolin/St. Tropez was opened on 25th August 1889. The line was then extended to Hyères, a further 51 kilometres. This work was completed in August 1890. The two short branches to Cogolin and St Tropez were completed a year later in 1892.[2]

The PLM became nervous of the possibility of the line extending to Toulon. It was fearful for competition on through traffic. So, the terminus of the coastal line was initially fixed as being at Hyères. It was a few years before the line was extended through to Toulon. The completion of the line and the opening of the last section to Toulon took place on 6th August 1905. This last 23 kilometres was constructed as a result of the success of the line over previous years.

The line was very popular with tourists as it opened up access to coastal resorts to the East of Toulon. Nonetheless rapid construction of the line left the formation fragile and regular maintenance and sometimes more significant work was required to keep the line in operation. Very early in its existence, the line had to cope with bad weather. Structures built for the line were neither big enough, nor robust enough to deal with flooding in the area. Major work had to be undertaken to rectify the problem.

During the first 25 years of its existence, the line allowed the opening up of the coastal towns of the Massif des Maures and the demographic growth of many communes such as Pradet, Carqueiranne, La Londe, Cavalaire, Sainte-Maxime and Saint-Tropez. It considerably enhanced the economy of the area, even if its own finances did not fully reflect this. In the years before the Great War a series of different projects were mooted and possible concessions were investigated.

An agreement signed on 27th November 1908, between the General Council of the Var and the Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France granted the opportunity for the railway company to build branch-lines connecting other villages and towns to their main line between Toulon and St. Raphael and also providing connections to the Central Var line. The two main routes agreed were:

  • A line from Salernes through Brignoles to a junction withe the coastal line near Pradet.
  • A line from Draguignan to St. Aygulf, connected at both ends to the Chemin de Fer due Sud’s main lines.

A further commitment to these lines was made in April 1909 when the agreement was enshrined in law. However, these additions to the network were destined never to be realised. The advent of the First World War meant that schemes of this nature were inevitably put on hold.

The First World War left the Company in a parlous state. The poor state of the line was not addressed in the years immediately after the War. In the 1920s, a series of different natural disasters affected the line. The degradation of the service and the poor state of the network accentuated the competition by the road.

Finally, in 1932, the local authorities responded. A decision was taken to modernise the line. Immediately after this decision there were very violent storms in the Mediterranean and these storms seem to have provoked a tidal wave which badly damaged costal defences and the railway line as well.

Surprisingly, this disaster did not cause the closure of the line, rather it prompted greater commitment to the modernisation plan. Work was undertaken quickly and the line was fully open once again by October 1933.

Modernisation almost went as far as electrification, but a dispute between the Railway Company and the Local Authorities meant that this did not go ahead. The Local Authorities decided that electrification would bring such an improvement in profitability that the work would pay for itself and so did not warrant subsidy. The Railway Company was unable to raise finance for the electrification. In fairness, both sides had strong arguments on their side. The costal line was after all the most financially viable and busiest of the lines of the Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France. By 1933, the historical company only had the coastal route under its control as the other two lines had been taken over by the State after going bankrupt.

The Railway Company turned to look at diesel railcars as the best solution to secure the future of the line. The decision was taken to buy 10 200hp railcars rather than the originally proposed 7 100hp railcars. They arrived in 1935 and were an immediate success.

In two years the number of travellers tripled, the revenue doubled and the cost per kilometre cut by two-thirds. The daily timetable was increased to seven round trips on each section, and thirteen between Toulon and Hyères. The Company was so successful that they became victims of their own success: some schedules trains had to be increased from single car operations two, three and even four car operations on occasions. In this period, the train overcame all competition. The Toulon-Hyères tramway closed on 30th September 1936, and bus companies saw their customers desert their services and consequently saw a dramatic drop in revenues.

During this period any problems encountered were those arising from success rather than failure. In 1936, the General Council of Var ordered six new railcars and two locomotives. During the years 1937 and 1938, seventeen new stops were created on the line and a departmental coordination plan was created to regulate compettitve activity between road and rail.

Between Toulon and Hyères, the bus service was reduced and between Toulon and Cavalière buses were cancelled completely. However, the Railway Company found that it need to supplement the rail service on that second route and developed a coach service to complement its own rail service.

As a consequence of this action, a small change was made to the agreement with governed the management of the line and other transport in the area. In July 1938 this change formally permitted the Railway Company to replace some of it trains with road vehicles as necessary. This addendum did not at the time seem significant but ultimately it was the freedom for the company to do this which cause the end of the rail service only a few years later.

On the eve of the war, in 1939, the Chamber of Commerce of Toulon finally secured the permit for construction of a metre-gauge track between the Toulon terminus of the costal line and the PLM station.

Wartime bombing and occupation caused serious damage to the coastline and to parts of the railway. A few weeks after the liberation, a shuttle was put back into service from Toulon to Hyères, it allowed a daily return in each direction. It ran heavily overloaded.

In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, the employees of the Railway Company managed, without significant resources and without recognition, to restore traffic along the whole length of the line. It was operational by 15th March 1945 before the end of the conflict in Europe. But the number of vehicles was reduced and those operable were in a very poor state of repair. It quickly became obvious that there was no likelihood of financing and that the Company was also riddled with debt. On 29th October 1945 the Company Director proposed transferring all service to road vehicles. Technical reports were undertaken on the state of the railway and proved to be surprisingly positive about its condition and the possibility of proper repair.  However, the political discussions about what to do with the railway lasted three long years, during which the railway operated in really poor conditions. Overloading of the remaining 9 railcars was common and the Company supplemented these with road transport. In the same period maintenance of the permanent way was cut t a bear minimum to allow the company to purchase more road vehicles. By the summer of 1948, Railway Company flyers were only mentioning their bus services and no reference was made to the railway, even though trains were still running.

The closure was drawn out. On 14th May 1948, the decision was made to close the line. On 19th May, the Frejus diesel workshop was in flames. Railcar repairs were no longer possible. Rail cars continued to provide a service along the line until 2nd June 1948. A truncated service continued between Toulon and Hyères, until 18th October 1948. Some sources suggest that some sort of service continued without any logistical support until 1949.[3]

And finally, why ‘Le Macaron‘ (the Macaroon in English)?

A plausible explanation is provided by Roland le Corff [4] who suggests that  in Provençal, the train was called Lou mascaroun (which gave the word macaron) and which means “black” and more precisely a person blackened by coal. For example, this is what coal miners were called. What could be more logical than to name a steam train whose black smoke smeared on the faces of passengers leaning out of the window and of course that of the mechanic and driver placed in the front row?


[1] Wikipedia;, accessed 17th December 2017; and, accessed 18th December 2017.

[2], accessed 15th December 2017.

[3] E.g., accessed 18th December 2017.

[4] Roland le Corff;, accessed 18th December 2017.

Shame and Honour on the African Continent

I am trying to write a book about the dynamics of Shame and the Gospel. I have asked for comments on a first draft of the text  from a lecturer at the college I attended when training for ministry in the Church of England. One of many thoughtful and helpful comments he made related to the prevalence of sources from a Middle Eastern and Asian context and the limited references to the theme of shame in African literature.

I follow a blog from Jayson Georges called which was founded in 2013 and now acts as the digital platform of the Honor-Shame Network. In 201.. Jayson Georges wrote a short post about the paucity of literature about honour and shame coming from the African context (

I took the comments from my college lecturer and the post from as a challenge to research what literature exists that focusses on shame in a Sub-Saharan African context.

This article (link below) provides some insight into what literature is available and gives some idea of the breadth of issues considered.

African Shame Issues

The survey is by no means exhaustive and I would very much appreciate any pointer to other sources and/or relevant areas of study.

In addition to the works referred to in my article it is worth noting the existence of the book written by Mark S. Aidoo.

“Shame in the Individual Lament Psalms and African Spirituality” (Mark S. Aidoo) 

I have not yet read the book but it appears to be a significant addition to the list of texts referred to  in the blog from This is what advertisers say about the book.

The book explores how the rhetorical function of ‘shame’ and its cognates within twelve Individual Lament Psalms (ILP) reflect persuasive responses aimed at enhancing the relational spirituality of the psalmist. It argues that the Hebrew terminology of ‘bws is used as a response to enhance a spirituality of relatedness. The author argues that the plea for positive shame is to enhance positive spirituality that leads to changes of attitude, repentance, faithfulness, self-knowledge, and wholeness. Negative shame influences negative spirituality that leads to destruction and unworthiness. The volume reflects African Christian spirituality elucidating the psalmist’s perception of positive shame

Ligne de Central Var – Part 15 – Rians to Meyrargues (Chemins de Fer de Provence 35)

Rians to Meyrargues

We start the last section of our journey on the Ligne de Central Var of the Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France from the station at Rians. Before returning to the station we take a look round the town and its immediate environs.

A view of the church and bell tower in RiansRians is a commune in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in south-eastern France. It is a provençal village in the Upper Var located north east of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire. It is on a narrow farming plain between the hills north-east of Sainte-Victoire and south of the Durance/Verdon hills.

The main employment is agriculture, predominantly wine. The village itself is built on a hill that is dominated by a 12th-century bell tower and the church of Notre Dame de Nazareth. The Town is made up of concentric medieval streets that work their way down the hill.

I am told that notable events in Rians include: dancing in the squares on 14th July; the Fête de St Laurent on 8th August; and the Fête de la Courge in October. We missed all these as we drove across the north side of Rians in November 2017.

A few pictures will give us a feel for the village.

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Since prehistoric times, this village has been populated. There is apparently proof that around 40,000 years ago people used to live in caves of Rigabe. There are over 4,300 people living in  Rians at present.

After a good look round, we head for the station up Avenue de la Gare.

As we wait for our train we notice once again the large Wine Cooperative next to the station and comment on how much larger its warehouse is than the goods facilities at the station.

The line heads north-west from the station and curves round to a more westerly direction before crossing the Canal de Provence. In the satellite image below the Chemin des Herbes in the bottom right is the route of the line immediately after leaving Rians Station. The line leaves the image centre left below the East-West arm of the Canal.

Incidentally, in November 2017, we had breakfast at a small Boulangerie on the North side of Rians – Artisan Boulanger, Lucian Amoureux. The premises are just to the South of the old line. A lovely and cheap breakfast it was too.

The Canal de Provence is run by SCP – La Société du Canal de Provence. In 1957, aware that the control of water was the key to the socio-economic development of Provence, three territorial communities, the departments of Var and Bouches-du-Rhône and the City of Marseille, decided to pool their rights to the catchment around the Verdon river. They gave the Société du Canal de Provence the task of ensuring the hydraulic development of the region.

In 1963, the company was commissioned by State concession to build and manage the Canal de Provence and the other works necessary for the water supply of the Eastern and coastal areas of Provence.

The Company has an annual turnover of 100 million euros. On average it invests 40 million euros each year in its infrastruture. It has 480 employees and transports 200 million cubic metres of water each year. It also produces 20 Million kWh of hydro-electric power each year.

It has nearly 70 km of open channels, more than 5,000 km of water supply and distribution pipelines, 85 dams and local reservoirs, 83 pumping stations, 19 water treatment stations, 4 clarification and filtration stations, 6 mini and micro hydropower plants that produce 50% of the company’s consumption. It supplies 1,700 companies, 165 municipalities, 6,000 farms, 80 000 ha equipped with irrigation, 37,000 individuals, 2,000 posts and fire stations and about 40% of the population of the entire Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

More information can be found by following this link:

The railway line ran along the line of the road which can be seen in the picture above, crossing the large canal on a bridge and then heading off into the distance to the left (South side) of the narrower canal. Two pictures along the route show, first, an abandonned crossing keeper’s cottage, and then a view back down the line before it reached the next halt, showing some of the significant earthworks along this length of the line.

A few kilometres after crossing the canal, the rail formation meets up with the D561 road to the West of Le Benas and just to the East of the border between Var and Bouches-du-Rhone. There was a small halt at this point (Roques-Port Sec) and the building remains as a private property.

The satellite images suggest that at one time the old road was above the line of the railway, separated from it by retaining walls and at one point by a rock bluff. The present road has apparently been aligned with the old railway on a widened formation.

Close to the border a modern aqueduct can be seen over the D561, part of a whole series of water supply arrangements run by the SCP. This is a suspension bridge carrying a water supply. Typical of Provence is the amount spent by the Department and Region in securing a good water supply for residential, farming and business use.

We move on now into Bouches-du-Rhone. Jouques is the next village on the line.

It is a small village not far from Le Durance, nestled between Provence and Luberon. On the way to Jouques the line leaves the alignment of the D561 (while remaining on Route de Rians) and crosses the river (the Ruisseau de Saint-Bachi) and travels along on the South side of the river.

Approaching Jouques, the formation runs immediately alongside Chemin de Couloubleau. The road, as can be seen, widens out to include the railway formation and becomes Avenue de la Gare.

A short stop at Jouques Station and we are on our way once again. the tracks head across the yard ahead of us on the adjacent photo and then into a very short tunnel before we pick it up again on La Burlière. The picture below looks back down the line towards Jouques town centre.

The route then finds a path alongside the D561 once again as it leave Jouques behind. The trains followed tracks aligned roughly with the cycleway/footway on the left of the photograph.

At various points along the D561 its route can be picked out, either directly alonside the carriageway or deviating away from it.

The line continued to what is now a major canal aligned with the present D561 road bridge – Pont EDF. When the railway was in use this canal did not exist. It was built in the 1960s.

The formation seems to have been obliterated by the canal works. It does not follow the alignment suggested in the file associated with Google Earth as we can identify the station building somewhat to the South of that line, much closer to the canal.

It appears that the line followed the route of the canal for a few hundred metres before deviating into Peyrolles. The exact line is difficult to decipher, however, the 1934 Michelin map shows the line a good distance below the N96 (now D96) and the N561 (now D561) roads as they meet East of the centre of Peyrolles.

The red line on the satellite image above is the route of the line as indicated on the add-in to Google Earth. The green-line is the much more likely route and the green box highlights the location of Peyrolles Station.

Leaving the station the route curves round to the South West, tightly following the line of a smaller older canal (Canal de Peyrolles) which runs on the North-side of the modern canal. The green line approximates to the route on the image below. It follows what is now called Boulevard Courdeloi before crossing the Canal de Peyrolles to join the Route du Plan.

The Route de Plan and the rail alignment cross the D96 at level and the road name changes to La Grange. The alignment then turns to a more Westerly rather than North-westerly direction and runs parallel to the old PLM line towards Meyrargues. The red line below seems to travel passed the station an on along another railway. More about this below.

The three satellite images show the shared location of stations on three different railway lines. The most northerly station marked on the final satellite image in yellow is the PLM Station on the old line between Paris and Marseilles. The red arrow points to the passenger station buildings of the terminus of the Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France Central-Var line. The blue arrow points to the passenger facilities of the terminus of the standard gauge line to Salon-de-Provence and Arles which was run by the department of Bouches-du-Rhône.

It is this third line which has been picked out by the red line through the station site on the first satellite image immediately above and following this third line is a story for another occasion.

The PLM Station In Meyrargues

This station was constructed in the 1850s and remains open today. The PLM line circled round the West side of Meyrargues and entered a short tunnel before reappearing to the South-east of the town. The alignment can be seen on the map at the end of the next sequence of photos.

Once clear of Meyrargures the line travelled south to Marseilles.

The Bouches-de-Rhône Departmental Railway

This standard railway had its terminus in Meyrargues and travelled via Lamanon and Eyguières to Arles and Salon-de Provence


The good shed visible beyond the passenger station building is now in use as a perfumery and they have kept records of the drawings of the building.

The Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France Station

Our journey terminates in this station. There is just time top provide you with the timetable if you want to make the return journey along the line.