Southern France's 'train of wonders' line to close for 16 months

The Local France
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Southern France's 'train of wonders' line to close for 16 months
People carrying luggages walk towards the train before embarking in Breil-sur-Roya, southeastern France, in October 2020 (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP)

One of France's most scenic rail routes, nicknamed the 'train of wonders', is set to close for more than a year for a major track renovation project.


Starting in September, the Nice-Tende train line will close for 16 months. The picturesque route which traverses southern France's mountainous landscapes is nicknamed Train des Merveilles.

The popular TER (regional train) route stretches from Nice to Tende, in the Alpes-Maritimes département near the Italian border, and it will be closed from September 2nd to December 13th, 2025.

The journey takes around two-and-a-half hours through cliffs and valleys, taking in viaducts and tunnels on its way to the Mercantour national park.


Thousands of tourists take the 'train of wonders' every year, and for locals it connects the more remote villages in southern France to the Riviera capital.

Why the closure?

The project will cost the state and region approximately €80 million, and the primary focus will be fixing the Braus tunnel, which runs between Touët-de-l'Escarène and Sospel. Over the years, it has been heavily impacted by water infiltration and storms, which have caused limestone deposits to form.

It will also involve replacing the railway bridge of Calvaire and replacing old tracks with new ones.

READ MORE: VIDEO: 7 of the most beautiful train journeys in France

Jean-Pierre Serrus, the vice-president of the PACA region and head of transport, told French media that the complete closure was "essential."

Sébastien Olharan mayor of Breil-sur-Roya, one of the towns near the train line, told France Bleu "yes it's true it will cause inconvenience, but we know that a year and a half later, we will have a brand new line which will allow us to envisage a new future for all the valleys in the east of the Alpes-Maritimes département".


The mayor of Tende, Jean-Pierre Vassalo, also supports the project, he told Le Figaro that it was "no longer possible to escape". 

"We risk being a little paralysed, it's true, but it's about saving the line," he said.

Despite the importance of the works, locals have been frustrated by the long timeline and the possibility of slow replacement buses.

Even though the region will offer replacement buses during the 16 month period, locals worry that they will be even less connected from Nice, which they had to become accustomed to after the line was previously interrupted in 2020 following damage from storm Alex.

A Facebook petition has already gathered dozens of signatures.


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