Train de l’Ardeche

The Train de l’Ardeche began operating in 1891 to transport goods, people, and mail between Tournon-sur-Rhône and Lemastre. Today it is a designated historical monument. The narrow gauge track follows the Doux River through beautiful verdant gorges that are otherwise inaccessible without locomotives specially designed to handle the tight curves. Locomotive 403 has been in operation on the line since 1903, joined in 2015 by sister Locomotive 414 which was built in 1932.

Passengers have three choices but trains don’t operate every day and tickets sell out so check the website and book ahead. Le Mastrou is an all day journey with time to spend in Lemastre for 21€ round trip or 19€ one way. The second option, Le Train du Marché, operates only on Tuesdays at 8:30 a.m. to deliver passengers to the market at Lemastre with a return departure at noon. I assume ticket prices are the same as Le Mastrou but they are not listed on the website. The third option, included in our Viking River Cruise, is Le Train des Gorges, a half-day excursion leaving at 10:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. to the station at Colombier le Vieux – Saint-Barthélémy le Plain where passengers can watch the locomotive turn around for the return trip. The cost of this option (had it not been included in our cruise) is 15.50€.

Upon our arrival at the train station on day 5 of our Viking River Cruise, we were directed to pass through the clean, new station (offering opportunities to shop for souvenirs), then stop briefly in the restrooms before boarding our train.

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Tournon-sur-Rhône St-Jean-de-Muzols Station

I also checked out the sign that showed the train route along the Doux River.

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Sign at Tournon station showing route

Excited for the journey ahead, we boarded the train and found plenty of seats available at this time of year and, since we were armed with our quiet vox headsets, we could hear our guide wherever we sat. The crisp morning air in early November made us appreciate the closed car although in warmer months the carriages are open.

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All Aboard with Jerry, Kathy, Jim, and Lori

As the train rumbled out of the station, I soon learned, however, that photos through the windows showed too much reflection. Instead, I stood outside on the platform between the rail cars to photograph the incredible autumn scenes we passed. The average speed of the train is just 20 mph (32 km/h) so I felt quite safe if a little chilly.

We’d barely left the station when we were treated to views of Le Grand Pont (bridge), built of stone during the Middle Ages.

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Le Grand Pont

Next came the Barrage de la Ville, a dam surrounded by spectacular foliage, followed by one breathtaking view after another.

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Barrage (dam) de la Ville

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Barrage (dam) de la Ville

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Viaduc de Troye

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Scene from the train of the Doux River

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Le Doux River from the train

I especially like the effect of the smoke from the locomotive lending an aura of nostalgia for bygone days to my photos.

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Tunnel du Mordane and Usine Électrique (electrical plant)

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Canal des Allemands

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Doux River

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Doux River

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Le Pont des Étroits

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Station at Clauzel

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I wasn’t the only one taking  photos

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View from the train

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When we arrived at the station at Colombier le Vieux – Saint-Barthélémy le Plain, we got off the train to look about and watch the locomotive turn around on the swing bridge for the return trip.

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Train station at Colombier le Vieux – Saint-Barthélémy le Plain

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Bridge across the river

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These chickens added to the rural ambiance

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Our train

In less than a minute, two men turned this locomotive around with the aid of what’s called a swing bridge. Watch it here.

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You can see the steam locomotive and more rail cars in this photo

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Pastoral scene just before our arrival at the station

According to Trip Advisor, the Train de l’Ardeche is the #2 rated attraction in Tournon-sur-Rhône. Number 1 is Le Jardin d’Eden (the Garden of Eden) which we did not visit so I won’t quibble but the train was #1 with our group.

 

Based on events from November 2016.

 

References:

http://www.trainardeche.fr

 

Categories: cruise, Europe, France, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Train de l’Ardeche

  1. Lovely tour!!! Thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yet again your blog delivers. I so appreciate your generosity in sharing your world travels (such a great deal for us 🙂 ) and as always my world got a bit bigger as I learned something new–a swing bridge–such a clever idea! I wonder if
    Gary would build me one of those in the garage….

    Like

    • Thank you for your kind words, Jackie. Jim tells me he learned as a child the swing bridge was called a turntable. His grandfather worked for the railroad in Ohio and that’s what he called it.

      Like

  3. Anonymous

    On my bucket list. Love those old narrow gauge lines. Well done as always.

    Like

    • Yes, we did one in Alaska, too. It’s a great relaxing way to enjoy scenery. Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  4. Dan Waldstein

    Whoops. Forgot again to add my name.

    Like

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