Monthly Archives: Dec 2017

Ligne de Central Var – Part 14 – Barjols to Rians (Chemins de Fer de Provence 34)

Barjols to Rians


Barjols is a small town of around 3,200 inhabitants. Close to it is a small geological feature which includes a small gorge and a series of caves. The caves became home to a Carmelite Convent.

Along with much of France, Barjols experienced a period of agitation shortly before the French Revolution. In addition to the fiscal problems present for several years, the harvest of 1788 had been bad and winter 1788-1789 very cold. The election of 1789 provoked agitation and heightened a sense of class difference.  At the end of March 1789 riots and insurrection shook Provence. A food riot occured in Barjols on 26th March 26. Peasants attacked property owners seeking to force them to cancel outstanding debts. The reaction was to call out ther local constabulary, then to institute legal proceedings, but ultimately those convicted were not imprisoned. The storming of the Bastille resulted in a climate ofvfear in the region and amnesties were given in August and a civil guard was created, made up of local owners, artisans and farmers to protect against further revolt. Ultimately the revolution took place throughout  France and everything changed.

In the 1790s Barjols was chief town of the district. It was wealthy. In the XIX th  century, Barjols had become the ‘French capital of leather’. It had 24 tanneries and a sreies of 23 mills. Also, interestingly, a factory making playing cards.

In the Middle Ages, bow hunters and breeders sold or traded their skins to local artisans, most often to the shoemaker himself who tanned them. In 1608, Jean-Baptiste Vaillant installed the first tannery factory thanks to the tax benefits granted by Henri IV, a fervent advocate of industry. Barjols had 300 years of prosperty resulting from the tannery industry. There were 24 tanneries by 1782. In 1900 it wasnoited that Barjolais tanners treated so-called “exotic” skins from Africa, Asia and South America. At the beginning of the 20th century, new tanning methods appeared and revolutionized the leather industry. 

The new methods, vegetable tanning, reduced the tanning time from several months to a few weeks. However, the real revolution lay in the discovery of chrome tanning that lasted only 24 hours. Competition became significant and the number of tanneries in Barjols declined. At the time of WW2 there were only 3 larger tanneries in Barjols, but they were still employing more than 450 people and represented 5 to 7% of the total production of French tanneries by processing 5,000 tons of skins per year.

Decline set in in the 1950s and the last tannery in Barjols filed for bankruptcy in 1983. The work had primarily moved abroad, to the USA, South America and elsewhere.

Today the large tannery buildings serve as lofts or workshops for a large community of artists based in the town.

Barjols calls itself ‘the gateway to Haute Provence and the hills of Var’, near the Gorges du Verdon and the Lake of St. Croix, it is a peaceful village, set on a limestone cliff, and an inviting stop for visitors. It has 42 man made fountains, Barjols’ architecture and life have been determined for centuries by the abudance of water. 

Because of its more recent industrial past Barjols didn’t develop into a big tourist destination and so has kept many features and characters of French village life.

Having taken time to get to know Barjols we head back to thge railway station to continue our journry. As we do so we find on thge street a ticket which must have been dropped by someone.

We set off on our journey bearing this lost ticket and enjoyingvthe accommodation in 2nd Class.

Once we leave the station travelling towards Rians we find ourselves in cutting and quickly going under a road over-bridge. The modern name for the route is HLM les Camps. The image below is from Google Streetview as is taken looking back towards Barjols Station.

The route continues towards Varages and encounters a short tunnel. both the portals are shown below, together with a map which marks the tunnel with a black dotted line with arrowheads at each end. beyond the tunnel the line continues to follow Chemin de Varages-Pres, a gravel road based on the formation of the old line.










The aerial shot looks back down the line towards Barjols and gives a good impression of the scenery around the line. Hidden behind trees in the centre of the image is a crossing keeper’s cottage. the formation of the line is now overlain with a broken tarmac surface.

The line continues on towards Varages held high above the local road on a series of retaining walls. The road comes up to meet the railway and crosses it. There are two images below the one of the retaining wall which show the crossing, the first looking back down the line (the railway came down the track behind the green waste bin. The second image shows the formation and the road diverging again. The railway took the route on the left of the picture which is now covered in tarmac.

Rue Saint-Photin continues to meet the D35, crossing a river bridge en-route. The crossing keeper’s cottage can be seen at the junction, as can the portal of the tunnel beyond. The line disappeared into m a short tunnel just beyond the present D35.

The formation continues to be tarmacked and carries the road along below the village of Varages and into the old station.

Our train can just be seen now in the old postcard exiting the tunnel portal and arriving at Varages Station.


Beyond Varages, the line continues in a North-westerly direction for half a kilometre or so before diverting westward.

Just south of Bezaaudon and with the D561 nearby, the trackbed becomes inaccessible for a while but continues to follow the routs of the D561 but a hundred or so metres to the South.

And by the time the D561 turned south to cross the alignment, the railway was bridgeable as it was in cutting.

The D561 leaves the rail alignment here and also crosses the river, heading away southwards. The line continued along the river bank to the next station.

The station for the village of Saint-Martin-de-Pallières sat in open fields to the north of the village.

The next visible structure on the route is the crossing keeper’s cottage at Les Bréguières Occidentale, Esparron. The landscape alongside the line is now predominantly made up of flat open fields and the line itself travels along the flat landscape with cuttings or embankments. Our next stop is at Esparron Station.

The private dwelling and gardens have been nicely restored. The line travelled between the two remaining structures, the station house and the goods shed. Even part of the station platform remains visible. The D70 was crossed at grade and the line headed on to meet the D561.










On the plan above, Esparron can be picked out in the bottom right and the route of the line runs from the top right to the top left. A tarmac surface means that it is easy to follow the route in a vehicle. We did this in November 2017.

Further West the formation runs directly alongside the D561, before crossing it at grade and running on the South side of the road, hidden behind the trees in the picture below.

It joins the D561 just before reaching Rians and then follows that road up[ to a roundabout junction with the D3 which it crossed at grade. Evidence of the crossing point is hidden under the modern road layout. Although its route can be picked out just beyond the roundabout leading away to the north of the D3 and becoming Chemin des Herbes.

The Station at Rians was on the North side of what is now the D3. Two of the old buildings exist unaltered. The third has been converted extended to improve its use as a Wine Cooperative building.

The “Rians et Artigues” winery was founded in 1922 and made use of the railway to transport its produce. I have found fiures for its operational capacity in 1979. That year it vinified 19,235 hectolitres of wine, including 574 hectolitres of AOC Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. It had 252 members who were then cultivating 296 hectares of vines. The building is marked with the yellow arrow. The passenger station building is marked with a red arrow and now-a-days hides behind a high hedge. The Goods Shed is marked with a blue arrow. The station site is marked with a red ellipse on the plan below.

We disembark our train here in Rians to take a break before travelling on.


Ligne de Central Var – Part 13 – Sillans la Cascade to Barjols (Chemins de Fer de Provence 33)

Sillans la Cascade to Barjols

We start this part of our journey along the Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France Central Var Line by having a look round the immediate vicinity of the station and village of Sillans la Cascade. First we have pictures of the waterfall that gives the town its full name, then some postcards from the town itself.

We wander back to the station at Sillans la Cascade, crossing La Bresque on the way. At the station we continue with our journey. As we set off from the station we travel alongside La Bresque. The river provided a good defence for the village on three sides as the plan of the town above illustrates. The station was on the East of the town across the river.

As we travel round the north side of the village we encounter the bridge over La Bresque. The river is now relatively small as can be seen in the adjacent picture. The bridge is at the point marked on the map above by a red ellipse. The route we are now following is today called Chemin de Provence and once clear of Sillans la Cascade it follows the D560 (Chemin de Fox Amphoux) closely on its north side until the road turns away westwards and the line loops round from a north-westerly direction to a more westerly direction itself . The road and the rail formation are back next to each other by the time we reach the Clinique Veterinaire de Sillans (3 Chemin du Plan, Route de Barjols, 83690 Sillans-la-Cascade, France)

The road and the railway formation seem to come together entirely at a point just before the junction between the D560 and the D32, although the location of the abandoned crossing keeper’s cottage might suggest that the rail formation remained on the north side of the present D560.

For some distance this was the case. The road and the rial formation followed each other until the road swung away towards a junction with the D13 and the railway continued in a North-westerly direction to cross the D13 some metres north of the D560’s junction with it. The divergence is in the first picture (on the left) below the route of the line is shown beside the vineyard in the second picture (on the right). the two alignments did not meet again for at least half a kilometre close to Chateau La Calisse, (

We found another crossing keeper’s cottage further along the route beyond the junction between the D560 and the D60. This must have been at a point where the road and the railway switched sides and the railway continued on the South-side of the road towards Barjols.

At the chevron sign on the adjacent photo, the road turns sharply to follow the north-side of a watercourse, the rail formation crosses the brook before turning parallel to the road and crossing a side road twice (D60) which loops into Ponteves and then out again to join the D560.

The railway continues along the South side if the stream for a few hundred metres before crossing it once again and then crossing the D560. Its line betrayed, once again by another crossing keeper’s cottage. Its crossing of the road was probably at roughly the pint where there are now metal garden gates. The road and the railway formation diverg as the road drops down into the town of Barjols and the rail route holds North of the town.

From this crossing point the railway approaches Barjols on a tight curve in a deep cutting., as the picture and map below illustrate.

The station site is further to the North-west and was reached by the line after it crossed the D554.

The station site was to the North side of what is now called Avenue de Garessio and is highlighted by the red ellipse. At the time these pictures were taken the whole site was for sale and many of the buildings were still visible.

Sadly the main passenger building seems to have been demolished prior to the taking of the pictures.

So we finish the next stage of our journey and look forward to exploring the small town of Barjols at the beginning of the next episode!

Ligne de Central Var – Part 12 – Lorgues to Sillans la Cascade (Chemins de Fer de Provence 32)

Lorgues to Sillans la Cascade

Over a short break in Lorgues we have time to look round the town before returning to the station to continue our journey.

Here are some pictures of our wander round the town.


The site of Lorgues Station

We return to the station to continue our journey.

Our route takes us out of Lorgues along what is now called Chemin du Train des Pignes Ouest and on into what would have been open country but which now has a lot of well spaced residential property. Significant structures still remain extant, such as the bridge below.





The route wanders through the mixed woodland, farmland and housing of the French countryside. Increasing numbers of vineyards and lavender fields begin to make this really feel as though it is Provence!

The line runs roughly parallel to the Chemin de St. Antonin (D50) and, at points, right next to it but at a slightly higher level, held there by rustic retaining walls as above. Somewhere along this length was the station for Entrecasteaux. It would not have been well used, as it was so far north of the town. There appears to be very little evidence of its location.

The road and the railway formation diverge sharply and the line continues through woodland to the valley of La Bresque where it runs close to but at a much higher level than the D31 on its way towards Salernes.

After quite a distance in the midst of farmland and forest the line once again encounters relatively low density housing in the hamlets of the valley of La Bresque, and the route once again bears a modern road name – Les Amourenes. Gradually the D31 (Route d’Entrecasteaux) and the railway formation converge. They meet as the valley begins to widen out and approach Salernes. The picture below shows the road and the old railway in very close proximity and it remains like this until close to Salernes.

As the line approached Salernes it began to rise above the road alignment and then swung away from the D31, turning first northwards and then eastwards and aligning itself with Boulevard de la Liberation (D2560). After a short distance it left the line of the D2560 and roughly bisected the angle between the D2560 and the D51. This is the location of Salernes Station. The plan below shows this. The blue dotted line is the alignment of the railway and the red ellipse is the station site. Below the map are a number of pictures of the station site today, a few old postcard views from the early 20th Century and two aerial shots, one of the past and one from much more recent times.

Beyond the station, the line turned back on itself to travel roughly Northwest along the D560 and then running West some distance north of Salernes but still following the route of the D560. On the way, at times it was in deep cutting. The map and picture below give a good idea of the topography and highlight one of the more significant structures on this part of the route – the bridge now carries a narrow lane linking two parts of the Commune.

The D560 has been widened and re-profiled recently. The route of the railway has been lost in the earthworks associated with the road widening and can only be picked out easily on satellite images where its path diverted slightly from the road alignment. For example, the railway formation is visible to the North side of the road at its roundabout junction with the D31 (Route d’Aups). For a while, the line then followed the Route d’Aups (see the map below), before that road reverted to travelling East after a hairpin bend and the railway formation continued Westwards towards Sillans la Cascade.

Somewhere in the vicinity of Salernes the railway crossed the la Bresque. I have not been able to identify the exact location of the bridge in this postcard. No doubt someone will be able to provide more details.

One possible location  would be just to the west of the map below, although the built area behind mitigates against this.

The line curved through the forest before returning to then line of the D560. On the way it crossed one road and the crossing keeper’s cottage for that location appears still to be in place as part of an extended house.

Once the line regains the D560 it follows it fairly closely on towards Sillans la Cascade. The two can be seen in tandem on the satellite image below. Just the tightest turns in the road were smoothed out by the engineers of the line.

The next satellite image, shows the location of the old station (now a school) and the village of Sillans la Cascade. The route of the railway runs from the top left of the image to the bottom right. We will be taking a break from our journey at Sillans la Cascade. Just two images of the stationfollwo the satellite image – an old postcard and a picture of the station house as part of the school buildings.


Some excellent information on this part of the line is provided by Randonnes Ferroviaires Fiche Iteneraire Chemin du central var median which can be found at:







Ligne de Central Var – Part 11 – Draguignan to Lorgues (Chemins de Fer de Provence 31)

Draguignan to Lorgues

Draguignan became the defacto headquarters of the Chemin de Fer du Sud. It was the most significant town on the route from Nice to Meyrargues. The site of the station lay directly alongside the PLM Station. The PLM Station was the terminus of a brachline which left the PLM mainline between Toulon and Nice at Les Arcs. Construction of the line commenced in 1859 and it was formally opened in 1864. It was operated by the PLM until the SNCF was formed.

In 1981, the PLM station in Draguignan was closed to rail traffic and became a mere point of sale for tickets.  A bus station was built where the tracks had once been laid. Passengers still use the old station platform but now they are waiting for buses.

In addition to the passenger building some vestiges of the railway can be found, some buildings and the turntable pit.

The old track-bed of the line to Les Arcs  has been given over either to roads or bike paths.

The image above shows the engine shed in Draguignan after the War. The image was taken by Pierre Virot and appears on p83 of Jose Banaudo’s book ” Le Train des Pignes.[1]

Draguignan became an increasingly significant railway hub with the creation of the Central Var Line. The formal opening of the station for the metre-gauge line took place on 25th April 1890.

The metre-gauge line with its slow speeds could not withstand competition from the road and the last train entered Draguignan station on January 2, 1950. The main station building is now converted into a school and the goods facilities have been demolished. The railway track-bed is now predominantly occupied by public roads. The square at the east end of the old train station was named Place des Train des Pignes , to commemorate this once important means of transport for the people of Draguignan.

In addition to the two station buildings there are still some platform edges and some other minor vestiges of the relatively large combined station complex. The majority of the site has been redeveloped by the town.

The route of the Chemin de Fer du Sud shown on the file on Google Earth is most probably incorrect as far as the route in Draguignan is concerned . Other sources suggest that the likely route is that suggested at the end of the last post:

Various images from Draguignan and its station site follow:


And finally, before we set off from Draguignan a postcard image that purports to be a welcome to Draguignan but clearly, from what we know about the station buildings, bears an image that does not come from the town. It looks more as though it is an image from one of the stations on the mainline nearer the coast, possibly from Les Arcs.

Perhaps as we set off from Draguignan along the Chemin de Fer du Sud we could imagine travelling behind the loco shown on the the picture below, rather than on the standard gauge train shown above!

The line towards Meyrargues sets off from the old station on Boulevard des Fleurs in an approximately Westerly direction following the line of what is now the D955 out of town towards La Garrigue. Just as the D955 reaches La Garrigue, the route bears off to the left towards Pont d’Aups, just above the road number marker in the top left of the map below.

In Pont d’Aups the rail line ran alongside the road and spanned the river on a single span arch bridge before crossing over a low-headroom bridge across Avenue du Col-de l’Ange, the road south towards the village of the same name, Col-de l’Ange. On our recent visit the girders from the bridge shown on Google Streetview had been removed to allow vehicles of all heights to travel south to north and vice-versa. Research suggest that this probably happened around 6 or 7 years before our visit in 2017.

However, just 6 months before our visit, major flood protection works were undertaken at Pont d’Aups. These pictures give a good impression of the work undertaken and the .pdf file contains the publicity leaflet delivered throughout the locality. Please click on this link …..pont d’aups works

After Pont d’Aups, the route of the line followed Chemin du Seyran (on its South side) for a short distance before swinging done Southwards to join Avenue du Col-de l’Ange. The route can be easily picked out on the satellite image below.

Continuing Southwards the line meets the Avenue de Tuttlingen (D557) at a hairpin bend.

The picture above looks back down the line towards Pont d’Aups. The cottage on the left is probably the crossing keeper’s cottage. The route of the line follows the Avenue de Tuttling for the next few hundred metres as is illustrated below (the narrow black line on the image highlights the route of the line).

Its route can be picked out once again beyond the next roundabout and following the Avenue Salvador Allende (D557) in a North-westerly and then Westerly direction towards Flayosc.

It would appear that along some of this length the railway was on embankment. When we reach the road junction between the D557 and the D57 there are the vestiges of a road under-bridge evident on the route of the railway. Generally, the embankment has been leveled to tie in with the immediate topography.

The vestiges of earthworks can be picked out on satellite views as the route of the line and the D557 separate. The route is highlighted by the red line on the satellite image. Towards the top of the picture is the location of Flayosc Station.

After Flayosc Station, the line headed off into the forest following the Vallon de Figueiret. The railway formation has once again been converted into a narrow country road of which the picture below is typical. The road name is unsurprising … Chemin de l’Ancienne Voie Ferrée. The road surface is gravel and is probably little changed since the railway was lifted in the 1950s/1960s. As the line travels south around Flayosc towards Lorgues, it encounters a number of relatively short tunnels. The first is shown below. The first picture is its Northern portal facing along the line to Draguignan, the second is its Western, Lorgues portal. The tunnel is curved along its length.

A short meandering length of formation leads to a second tunnel. Its eastern (Draguignan facing) portal (on the left) gives way to a relatively straight tunnel travelling East-West. The picture below is the West portal.

And a further short stretch of the line leads to a third short tunnel. It then winds its way on through the forest towards the small village or Sauve Clare and the next encounter with a tarmac road.

At Sauve Clare the railway passed under the village road. There was a short length of cutting and retaining walls either side of the line before a delightful bridge carried the road. The adjacent church, Chapelle Saint Augustin, is worth a photo because it shows the proximity of the church to the railway bridge.

After the village of Sauve Clare, the line wandered away again into the forest heading for Lorgues. Eventually the forest road (Chemin du Train des Pignes East) that the route follows is once again properly tarred as it enters the suburbs of Lorgues close to the Hermitage de Saint Ferreol.

Another road bridge is encountered with the line once again in cutting before the landscape opens out into what is now private housing but which would probably have been farmland when the line was operational in the early 20th century. The line approaches Lorgues from the North-East and runs across the North of the town.

Another small bridge is encountered where the railway passes under Chemin de Berne before the line runs in a straight line into what was Lorgues Station.

The passenger service from Lorgues to its station to the North of the town was provided by Louis Aune with a bus of 4 to 6 seats, the cost of transport was 5 cents. Aune was famous for having a small monkey always at his side in his seat. The pick up points for the ‘bus’ in the town were located at Rue de l’Église, at the Hotel de la Poste, and at Hotel Guirandi. As time went by, Aune was replaced by Léon Icard and later by Phocion Collet.

The freight service from Lorgues to the station was provided by Louis Allary with a truck 4 wheels . He has compettion from Monsieur Rousse who provided a service between Le Thoronet and Lorgues station. Its home base was Le Thoronet but he tried to compete on the route from Lorgues, with a base on Rue du Docteur Cordovan in the Old Town.

A few photos before we take a break in Lorgues.


  1. Jose Banaudo, Le Train des Pignes; l’Editions du Cabri, 1999.







Ligne de Central Var – Part 10 – Figanieres to Draguignan (Chemins de Fer de Provence 30)


Figanières to Draguignan

We recommence our journey at Figanières Station which is perhaps two-thirds of a kilometre to the East of the Centre of the town. We set off facing roughly Southwards. The station is at the location marked with a red ellipse on the plan below and is now a private home as can be seen in the picture below.

In the old postcard the station is flanked by a rather ramshackle factory building and loading stage which had a rail link and appeared to be busy, at least at the time the photograph was taken.

The line (shown in black on the adjacent map) followed the road (the D54) for a while until turning away to the South of the road, and finding the road Saint-Pons and travelling again in a near Southerly direction, before switching back to follow the alignment of the D54 but a few hundred yards distant. It then drifted towards the D562, eventually running just above a minor road on retaining wall.

The line then crossed the D562 at level and it is just possible to pick out the crossing keeper’s cottage among the trees alongside the road. The formation of the line then follows alongside the D562 but continues Southwards when the D562 turns Westward. It can be seen disappearing into the woodland below.



The formation winds its way southwards through the forest before turning West and beginning to approach the outskirts of Draguignan.

After reading the last post Andreas on Les Forums de Passions Métrique et Etroite!! commented as follows:

“Perhaps you have missed the “best” part: Between Figanières and Draguignan, the former Central Var line crosses a horrible training camp for tanks! I peacefully rode my old bicycel along the line and then realised I had entered and army camp with no visible exit (Help!). Thank God the tanks were not in action that day.” The army base referred to by Andreas, appears to be on this length of the line.”

As the formation of the old railway gets closer to Draguinan, it is once again covered in tarmac. It bears the name Avenue de la Vaugine. On the way, it passes under a beautiful little accommodation bridge, and a second similar but somewhat less well-maintained structure.




The approximate line of the old railway crosses from the Avenue de la Vagine to the main D59 along roughly the line indicated by the portrait picture above.

Internet searches suggest that the line of the Chemin de Fer du Sud then heads into Draguignan along Boulevard John Kennedy (D59), Place Pasteur (D59), and Boulevard Jean Jaures, and that the narrow Rue Labat and Boulevard Marx Dormoy then took the line right into the town centre of Draguignan. This is the route favoured by the Google Earth insert plotted by Claudio Capaccio which can be found by following this link:

This seems to me to be highly unlikely. The layout of the railway stations in Draguignan can be ascertained from sketch plans and aerial photographs which show their position and which show the line from Nice approaching the Chemin de Fer du Sud Station from the West.

The Chemin de Fer du Sud Railway Station in Draguignan (43 ° 32 ’03 “N, 6 ° 27′ 49” E) was on
Boulevard des Fleurs. The picture immediately below shows the station in more recent times, after it had served as a school. The first postcard view below that is from 1910. The station was enlarged soon after this, as can be seen in the picture below that.

The plan above and the aerial photo  show the arrangement of the stations in Draguignan. On the plan the SNCF (PLM) Station is at the top left with the Chemin de Fer du Sud Station just below it. In the aerial photograph, the Chemin de Fer du Sud Station is at the top of the picture about one thir of the way across from the right and the PLM Station is to its right.

On the plan, the trains from Nice entered from the right, on the aerial photograph, Nice trains entered from the bottom left, on the line which curves out of the let side of the picture and which continues roughly Westward on the aerial view below.

The most likely route of approach to the station from Nice was for the old line to follow the Avenue de Verdun which curves away from the D59 and the route of the line preferred on Google Earth which is shown in red in the adjacent satellite view from Google Earth. Avenue de Verdun is the wide curved road on the left of the image.

If my route is correct, the line would have followed Avenue de Verdun which then becomes the D955 (Avenue de 15eme Corps d’Armee) and which curves round the South of the Town and provides approximately the direction of approach which is indicated by both the plan above and the aerial photographs. Indeed, this route is confirmed by accessing aerial photographs from 1928 on the website:

The next stage of our journey will set off from Draguignan Station after having had a good look round the Station site on any pictures which are available.


Ligne de Central Var – Part 9 – Claviers to Figanieres (Chemins de Fer de Provence 29)

Claviers to Figanieres

We continue our journey from Claviers Station, West towards Draguignan, aware that ahead of us the line will take a significant detour to the north to enable it to follow the contours and avoid significant gradients!

The old Station House at Claviers is no a private residence. It can be picked out on the top right of the photo above. A small area has been blown up to a larger scale to identify the building.

We set off from the station in a Northwesterly direction along La Font which becomes Chemin Francois Manzone. The tarmac ends and the old formation is used for an ongoing footpath/cycle route.

The line continues northwards towards Bargemon up the Western flank of Le Riou valley through Les Fournas and Roque Bouliere.

The line turns round the head of the valley towards Bargemon and then South once again. After the bridge in the photo below, the route follows Chemin de San Peyre. The station has been demolished.


The Bargemon Station was at the location highlighted with a green ellipse on the adjacent plan.

On from Bargemon Station, the route crossed the valley of La Doux and headed South towards La Colle de Boussaque and the Tunnel de Boussaque. That tunnel runs from a portal facing Bargemon at 43 ° 35 ’49 “N, 6 ° 32′ 49” E to a Western portal close to Callas at 43 ° 35 ’46 “N, 6 ° 32′ 39” E, a distance of 212 metres. The tunnel is closed.

Callas Station has been demolished to make way for development. It location is indicated by the green ellipse. There is now a clinic on the site. The line immediately crosses the Bargemon Road and the enters Callas Tunnel, marked by the dotted black line and the arrowheads on the plan.




Callas Tunnel (43° 35′ 40″ N, 6° 32′ 16″ E43° 35′ 33″ N, 6° 32′ 10″ E) is 258 metres long. The tunnel mouth above is the one facing Bargemon. The one below faces Draguignan and is deep in cutting and well hidden. Just beyond that tunnel mouth the route is crossed by a road bridge and the track bed breaks out into the open.


Leaving the village of Callas in the top right of the map above, the line followed the route of what is now Le Clos then Camp de Pontreves North and Camp Redon, going under another road bridge and then crossing another road at grade. The crossing keeper’s cottage remains.



The line continues through a rural area of mixed woods and farmland with occasional steep sided valleys along Les Venes and l’Etang, before encountering the D54. The route joins the D54 and heads South-Southeast through Figanieres Station where this part of our journey ends.






Ligne de Central Var – Part 8 – Seillans to Claviers (Chemins de Fer de Provence 28)

Seillans to Claviers

We set off from La Gare de Seillans heading West towards Draguignan. If we are used to weather in the UK, we are still surprised by just how blue the sky can be in Provence, and just how warm the sun can be.

In November 2018 a postcript has been added in the form of an additional post in this series :

It covers a very short length of the line which was explored on foot.

The route turns quickly to the South as can be seen in the map below. The formation is visible in the satellite images on Google Earth after crossing the D19. The route curves round to join the present D53 and in a short while leaves it on what is now called the Ancienne Voie Ferree de Claviers. For some way it travels alongside the D53 Route de Draguignan before branching off to the right to follow a more Southwesterly line. The road is otherwise known as Le Petelins.

One of the most enjoyable things about parts of the route of the Ligne de Central Var is that it is possible to follow them in a car. We did this over as much of the length of the route as we could in November 2017. Encountering the Viaduct du Rayol (43 ° 36 ’53 “N, 6 ° 38′ 19” E) was one of the special moments on that journey.

The Viaduct is topped by lime green railings which seems to set it off beautifully. It is 159 metres long. When the line was operational it was not easy to access this viaduct except by train which perhaps explains the difficulty I have had in finding old postcard views of the structure.

Beyond the viaduct, the line continued on through the forest to La Bastié and Les Clots de Meaulx, where there was a small Halt which can be seen in the first two pictures after the map below.


And then on towards a crossing of the D55 at the point where its name changes from La Plaine de la Serillere to La Cougnasse. After the road crossing tarmac gives way to the basic railway formation. There was a crossing keepers cottage here which is now well hidden by hedging but which can be seen in the satellite view below.

The line took a tight curve from travelling in a South-Southeast direction to a Westerly direction travelling South of the D55 (this can be seen on the map below) which went through a series of hairpin bends immediately adjacent to the road/rail crossing. The line continued towards Draguignan and entered the Tunnel Font du Roure which appears on the map below. I could find no photographs of the tunnel portals and neither is accessible by vehicle.

Beyond the tunnel the line passed to the North side of Les Giniestieres running adjacent to the D55 on its South side for the run into Calviers, returning to a tarmac formation along this route.

The track bed can just be picked out between the trees on the South side of the D55. Google Street view comes to the rescue as we passed this point too quickly in the car to pick out the alignment of the railway on the ground on November 2017.

The village of Claviers sits over the line and it passes under the village in tunnel. The Tunnel de Claviers is still in use as a road tunnel, it is just 51 metres long. The portal at the South East end is above and the North West portal below. Immediately beyond the tunnel the line entered Claviers Station. Here we rest a while as we have completed the 8th section of out journey.

Ligne de Central Var – Part 7 – Tanneron to Seillans (Chemins de Fer de Provence 27)

Tanneron to Seillans

We continue our journey from Tanneron Station in the middle of the forest close to the Lac de St. Cassien but 11 kilometres from the town whose name it bears. In fact, much, much closer to Tournon. This station became the eastern terminus of the line after the closure of the length from here east to La Manda in 1944. Some bridges to the east of Tanneron were destroyed by a German commado unit at the time of the Liberation. Tanneron remained the eastern terminus of the line until full closure in 1950.

We head towards Montauroux. The line at first follows roughly the same route as the D562 Initially immediately next to the road and then the formation diverts away, first to around 20 metres to the South of the road and then increasingly further away in the forest.

In time, the route of the line crossed the D562. The crossing keeper’s cottage is shown here. Once the road was crossed the line diverged from the D562 along the Avenue de Narbonne. Although some sources and maps show the route following the D562 along the south-side of Montauroux, this cannot be correct as the old Montauroux station building still stands and is acting as the main building of a campsite. The correct route is shown on the maps below. The red line on the maps shows the route followed by the line through what are now the suburbs of Montauroux, but which were farmland when the line was operational. The green area on the map is the campsite.

In November 2018, my wife and I had the opportunity to follow the line of the route along the D562 and the Avenue de Narbonne by car. In doing so we were able to establish beyond doubt that the railway line ran along the route of the Avenue de Narbonne. The photographs immediate below show the remnants of the abutments of a small accommodation bridge carrying the line over a small local road.We also enjoyed a visit to Montauroux and were able to appreciate just why the station was so far from the village. Montauroux sits many metres above the valley floor and is a delightful perched village.The view into the valley from Monauroux village square.

The station building is shown from a couple of different angles below the postcard .

Beyond the station, the line continued in a Westerly direction and has to be carefully picked out on maps. On the map below the identifiable route is again in red with the marker placed at the next station, that of Callian. Montauroux Station is on the red line in the bottom right of the map.. The route follows a series of roads and green lanes and crosses inaccessible private land as well. Roads which are on the alignment include the Impasse de La Gare in Montauroux and the Chemin de Gimbrette. The route then can be seen on the north side of the Chemin Crottons and Callian Station can be picked out in the top left corner of the second plan view of second satellite image below.

West of Callian Station the line ran just North of the present Chemin de la Fontaine and then alongbChemin de Beauregard (D256) to rejoin the D562 for a short distance and then the modern D19 (Rue Tassy, Tourrettes, Var, then Rue Guiandonne, then Route De l’Aerodrome, then Avenue Saint-Christophe). The route of the railway leaves the side of the D19 at a building which is called Le Bar de Gare to follow the Ancienne Voie Ferree alongside the old station building in Fayence.

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Beyond the station the line follows the modern road Le Pavillion which becomes Le Pont, then Le Serre, then Le Fraisse, then Cauvet, then Castellaras (Ancienne Voie Ferree) and Adrech du Peyron. After this the route rejoins the D19, running immediately alongside it to the North along the continuance of Adrech du Peyron, close to the hamlet of Le Peyron.

Ardech du Peyron becomes Hubac du Peyron as the route of the line turns gradually away to the north of the D19 and then curves round in a large arc from roughly north to approximately west southwest and approaching Seillans Station and the end of this section of our journey.

Ligne de Central Var – Part 6 – Peymeinade to Tanneron (Chemins de Fer de Provence 26)

Peymeinade to Tanneron

In the postcard view of Peymeinade above, the line from Grasse came in at the bottom right of the picture along the side road which joins the main road just above the web address. The location of the station cannot be picked out as it is behind the trees which show up as dark green in the bottom right quadrant of the picture. The line then travelled across the picture from right to left in front of the first taller building and then behind the second slightly less tall higher building. Its route can then be seen on the left of the picture following the tighter road curve around the bluff and then away into the far distance.

Trains left Peymeinade Station travelling in a Southwesterly direction along what is now Avenue du Dr Belletrud, before swinging  West and then South following the contours. The route followed fist Avenue du Dr Belletrud, then Avenue des Baumettes, then Chemin du Flaquier Sud, then Chemin de la ZA (by now travelling approximately Westwards). It is possible to follow this length of the route on foot but not in a car. Tarmac gives way to gravel or ballast and then to the track formation.

The line runs for over a kilometre through the forest before reaching the Tunnel des Planasteaux, a 535 m long tunnel under the hamlet of Les Planasteaux close to Le Tignet.

The East portal, marked with a red dot on the plan above, can be reached on foot ore in a 4×4.

The West portal, marked with a green dot on the map, has been overwhelmed by vegetation! It is marked with a green arrow on the picture below.


The tunnel has reasonable access from the East because out is used as a mushroom farm. This is the second tunnel on the route that has been used in this way. In 2009, the Commune of Le Tignet organised a walk which included a visit to the farm. The walk organiser commented: “The afternoon was spent visiting the Champignonnière of Mr. Christian Boselli.The latter presented his farm which is located in the tunnel of the old railway line which connected Nice to Draguignan. It was with great kindness that he commented on the visit both technically and historically.”


Trains left the West portal of the tunnel in deep cutting and traversed the wooded hillside on the South-East side of Le Vallon de Sant Pierre and approaching the boundary of the Alpes Maritimes with ran a!ong the River Siagne.

The line crossed La Siagne and then travelled in a Southwesterly direct for another kilometre before reaching an accessible point.

The viaduct which took the line across the valley has all but disappeared, just the abutments remain. It was an impressive metal structure (43° 37′ 10.18″ N    6° 50′ 7.15″ E) which was destroyed in 1944.

This viaduct is not to be confused with the SNCF viaduct of the same name down near the coast. If you are interested in the details of that viaduct, please follow this link to download a .PDF of proposals to alter it:

Travelling on a train would negotiate it way through the forest in  southwesterly direction some distance north of Lac de St. Cassian and then turns northwest towards Montauroux.

There are no points where the route can be accessed by car until it reaches the D94 close to its junction with the D562.

This is the old station for the village of Tanneron (11 kilometres from the line) and is the end of this short part of our journey on the Ligne de Central Var.

As a short PostScript: in November 2018 my wife and I drove the length of the D94 from the village of Tanneron to its station. It seemed a long way by car, it must have felt an eternity on foot or by cart. Our own pictures of the village and station appear at the end of this post (below).

Other sections of the line to the East of Tanerron can be found at the following links:…r-de-provence-25.


The view from the village of Tanneron towards the coast at Cannes.The church of Notre Dame de Peygros at Tanneron – a short climb from the village.Tanneron railway station building on 15th November 2018.

Ligne de Central Var – Part 5 – Grasse to Peymeinade (Chemins de Fer de Provence 25)

Grasse to Peymeinade


We have spent quite a bit of time in and around Grasse. Most recently in these posts we have travelled down to the coast and if you chose to watch the videos at the end of post 24 in this series of blogs you really will have enjoyed the cab-ride to Cannes.

We start the next stage of the journey along the Chemin de Fer du Sud from Grasse Gare du Sud which is in the centre of the map of Grasse from 1930 above. It will be some time before we get to Meyrargues but here is the ticket we need for the journey. Actually for the return leg of the journey, but it was the best I could find!

Leaving the station, the line immediately went into a short tunnel under what was then Avenue de la Gare (and which meandered down from Grasse town centre to the PLM station) and is now called Avenue Pierre Semard.


The tunnel now carries traffic on Avenue de Provence in a westerly direction.These next two pictures show the two tunnel portals …

The route of the line lays underneath the modern Avenue de Provence. There is a short section in the city where the old road is a little higher than the rout of the line and carried by arches alongside what would have been the tracks of the railway.

The railway then travelled under the Avenue Sidi Brahim and over Avenue Henri Dunant onto what is now Avenue Frédéric Mistral.

Avenue Frédéric Mistral follows the old line through the Southwestern suburbs of Grasse and eventually becomes Boulevard Louis Icard as the old line turned in a Northwestely direction under an old accommodation bridge.


Soon after this the high retaining walls alongside the line gave way to a Viaduct – the Viaduct of the Pouiraque and then another small bridge which both carried the line over the meandering Canal de Siagne.


The line then followed the contours along Boulevard Louis Icard  before reaching the wooded valley of Les Ribes which was spanned by the Viaduct de Les Ribes (43 ° 38 ‘51.7 “N, 6 ° 54’ 12.4” E) which was made up of two 60 metre metal truss girder spans.

The only picture I have been able to find of this viaduct is the adjacent one, which shows the central pier after removal of the metal truss girders. Today, the Boulevard Louis Icard terminates short of the Viaduct. We have to divert onto the Route de Draguignan (D2562) to travel round the head of the valley.

We find the route again, now under the Chemin de Peymeinade. In the small picture on the right trains would have come off the Viaduc de les Ribes just to the right of the chevron sign and wheely-bin!

242T66 on Passions Metrique ( comments that Les Ribes viaduct was not damaged during the war but was dismantled after the line had been closed. The scrap merchant who was recovering the rails thought it would be better to retain the viaduct for further use and offered to sell it to the town of Grasse at the same scrap value he had bought it. But the mayor was not interested. So the metal girders were dismantled and the potential right of way severed for ever….

Another accommodation bridge was soon encountered. This time a stone arch bridge with the line in a deep retaining wall lined cutting. This was quickly followed by another stone arch bridge (below), this time carrying what is now the Chemin des Aubépines.

The line follows Chemin de Peymeinade and then Avenue de l’Amiral de Grasse towards Peymeinade. That road meets the D2562 at the point shown on the adjacent picture. The route of the railway In Peymeinade has all but been obliterated by development. In this picture the route heads off under the building in the centre middle distance.

In the plan view, the line arrives in Peymeinade at the bottom left. The station was towards the top of picture just to the right of centre. The only remaining vestige of the station is now the Office de Tourisme for the town.

The station house is the Tourism Office.





















In the next post we will head on towards Draguignan.