Best Scenic Train Rides In France to Explore

In today’s post I’ll be covering the topic of the best scenic train rides in France. As beautiful as this country is, one of the most underrated ways to see it is via the rails and there happen to be at least 8 different rides that help you do that. I’m going to show you all of them, give you the details you need to know and help you plan a potentially unforgettable trip in the process!

The best scenic train rides in France:

  1. Train de la Côte Bleue
  2. Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme
  3. Train Jaune
  4. Train des Merveilles
  5. Train des Gorges de l’Allier
  6. Le Petit Train d’Artouste
  7. Train de l’Ardèche
  8. Corsican Railways

Train de la Côte Bleue:

  • Route: Marseille and Miramas
  • Ticket prices: $20 USD (10-15 Euros)
  • Duration: 1 hour

The Train de la Côte Bleue is a scenic train ride that takes passengers along the Mediterranean coastline in the south of France. The journey provides stunning views of azure waters, rugged cliffs, and idyllic fishing villages.

As the train heads along the coast, passengers can gaze out at the spectacular calanques and explore charming villages such as Niolon, Ensues-la-Redonne, and Carry-le-Rouet. These stops offer opportunities to enjoy local seafood, sunbathe on secluded beaches, and experience the tranquil pace of coastal life. The route is especially popular for its breathtaking panoramas and the unique perspective it offers on this less-touristed part of the French Riviera.

Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme:

  • Route: From Le Crotoy to Cayeux-sur-Mer (4 villages passed on route)
  • Ticket prices: $30 USD (15-20 Euros)
  • Duration: 2-3 hours

The Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme is a historic steam train that operates in the region of Picardy in northern France. This railway offers a unique journey through the stunning landscapes of the Somme Bay.

The train route connects the quaint 4 towns on route: Le Crotoy, Noyelles-sur-Mer, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, and Cayeux-sur-Mer. Along the way, passengers are treated to panoramic views of marshlands, salt meadows, and the expansive tidal flats of the bay, which are especially beautiful at sunrise or sunset. The area is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers. The vintage locomotives and period carriages add to the nostalgic charm of the journey, evoking the golden age of rail travel.

Train Jaune:

  • Route: Villefranche-de-Conflent to Latour-de-Carol
  • Ticket prices: 16-30 euros
  • Duration: 3 hours one way

The Train Jaune (aka the Yellow Train), is a historic electric railway in the French Pyrenees that offers one of the most scenic train rides in Europe. This unique train service operates on a meter-gauge railway line that stretches near the Spanish border.

On route, the Train Jaune traverses a breathtaking mountain landscape at altitudes ranging from about 427 meters at Villefranche-de-Conflent to 1,593 meters at Bolquère-Eyne, which is the highest railway station in France and includes impressive engineering feats such as suspension bridges, tunnels, and viaducts, notably the stunning Pont Séjourné and the Pont Gisclard.

As the train winds its way through the Pyrenees, passengers are treated to panoramic views of deep gorges, lush forests, and traditional mountain villages. The open-air carriages available during the summer months enhance the experience, allowing for an unobstructed view of the surrounding natural beauty and making it a favorite among photographers and nature enthusiasts.

Train des Merveilles:

  • Route: Nice to Tende
  • Ticket prices: 15-20 euros
  • Duration: 2-3 hours

The Train des Merveilles (akaTrain of Wonders) is a remarkable scenic train ride that showcases the stunning landscapes and historical sites of the French Riviera and Alpine region. The train departs from Nice and travels north to Tende, near the Italian border, navigating through the dramatic mountain terrain of the Maritime Alps.

The Train des Merveilles not only serves as a popular route for tourists seeking to experience the natural beauty and quaint villages of the Alps but also operates year round, providing vital transport for locals.

Train des Gorges de l’Allier:

  • Route: Langeac to Langogne
  • Ticket prices: 15-20 euros
  • Duration: 2 hours

The Train des Gorges de l’Allier offers a particularly scenic and memorable rail journey in France. It runs through the spectacular Allier River gorge, showcasing some of the most unspoiled and breathtaking natural landscapes in the country.

The Train des Gorges de l’Allier operates primarily during the tourist season from spring to early autumn, with limited services or special themed trips outside these months. It’s a popular choice for those interested in geology, natural history, and photography due to the dramatic and varied scenery along the route.

Le Petit Train d’Artouste:

  • Route: Fabrèges Lake area
  • Ticket prices: 20-25 euros
  • Duration: 1 hour

The Le Petit Train d’Artouste is considered to be Europe’s highest train ride and offers a truly unique and breathtaking experience in the French Pyrenees. It operates from late spring to early autumn (weather permitting) as it is located in a high mountain environment but you will get amazing views of the mountains as well as the greater Fabrèges Lake and sights around it.

Train de l’Ardèche:

  • Route: Tournon-sur-Rhône to Ardèche
  • Ticket prices: 25-30 euros
  • Duration: 1-2 hours

The Train de l’Ardèche, often referred to as “Le Mastrou,” offers a nostalgic steam train journey through the scenic Ardèche region in southern France. This train departs from Tournon-sur-Rhône and winds its way along the Doux River, traversing deep gorges and lush forests. This picturesque route also passes through traditional stone villages and terraced vineyards, showcasing the natural and rural beauty of the Ardèche.

Corsican Railways:

  • Route: Corsica area
  • Ticket prices: 20-30 euros
  • Duration: 3-4 hours

Corsican Railways (CFC) offers a unique rail experience on the island of Corsica. The network features two main lines: the Bastia-Ajaccio line and the Bastia-Calvi line, connecting major towns across the rugged and mountainous terrain of the island. The trains travel through a diverse landscape, including dense forests, dramatic gorges, and along the scenic coastline, providing passengers with stunning views of Corsica’s natural beauty.

The Bastia-Ajaccio route is particularly famous for its engineering feats, including numerous bridges and tunnels, and is considered one of the most scenic train journeys in Europe.


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