ABOVE: A coal-burning locomotive of the
Vivarais Railway prepares to depart the SNCF station in Tournon, France.
Chemin de Fer du Vivarais
from: Tournon sur Rhône
The Chemin de Fer du Vivarais, or Vivarais Railroad, is a
meter-gauge railway that was built in 1891. The line was closed in 1968, but a
year later it was reopened as a tourist attraction by a group of French railway
After spending the night in Tournon aboard the MS Maribelle, we were bused to the Tournon SNCF station for the train ride. The
morning was cold, and the only person aboard the train who wasn't freezing was
the fireman who shoveled a ton of coal into the firebox over the next hour.
An independent journey on the CFTM's steam train is an all-day
affair; the train departs Tournon at 10 a.m., arrives at the terminus in the Ardèche
Lamastre at noon, and returns at 4 p.m. for arrival back in Tournon at 5:55
p.m. The MS Maribelle's excursion was shorter, with passengers being
dropped off at a high bridge in the mountains for a snack of wine and quiche
before returning to the ship by bus.