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French Riviera

Le Train des Pignes

Chugging along a train on a leisurely circuit from Nice to Digne-les-Bains is an unmissable top sight on the French Riviera. The narrow gage Chemin de Fer train starts in Nice and makes a number of stops in the outlying suburbs before winding along the Var Valley to Digne-les-Bains in Haut-Provence. For 151km, the scenery is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of forested cliffs, rushing torrents, fertile plains and medieval villages. It's a far cry from the busy, flashy life along the coast.

Var valley


Run by the Chemin de Fer de Provence with ticketing handled by the Lignesdazur.com the train makes four trips a day between Nice and Digne-les-Bains and takes about 3 1/2 hours. You can get off, explore a village and re board as often as you like. The train also stops seemingly in the middle of nowhere to discharge hikers.

The train does not leave from the main railway station in Nice but from a much smaller one called the Gare de Nice CP at 4 bis rue Alfred Binet.

The train makes a number of stops in the outlying suburbs of Nice and is a popular train for commuters. Too popular, in fact. Rush hour trains are so croweded that their use is now limited to commuters only, at least until a larger train with more capacity comes into service in 2025. Here's the latest:

Trains 3 (departure 12:20 p.m. from Nice) and 5 (departure 5:20 p.m. from Nice) will now be accessible as a priority for passengers whose destination is beyond Plan du Var. A check will be carried out when you get on board, please respect the accompanying staff.
We recommend that other passengers take trains 719 (departure 11:40 am from Nice), 523 (departure 1:00 pm from Nice), 535 (departure 5:00 pm from Nice) and 537 (departure 5:40 pm from Nice)

Rather than travelling as far as Digne, it's possible to get off the train at Annot or Puget-Theniers and take the steam-powered Train des Pignes but you'll need to check the schedules carefully as the train is run by a different company.

Steam Train

The Train des Pignes is a steam locomotive that swings into service Sundays and occasional Thursdays and Fridays from May to November. The train leaves from Puget Theniers and goes to Entrevaux where it makes a brief stop before continuing to Annot and then finishing at Le Fugeret. Notice that it is possible to take the Chemin de Fer to and from any of these locations. Check the schedule and book online at the Train des Pignes website .

See a map of the train des pignes.

The Villages

There are 28 stops after you leave Nice and before arriving in Digne. If possible, it's best to avoid Monday as most shops and restaurants are closed. Here are some of the more interesting villages:


This village seems to be built right into the cliff. From the adorable train station a little road winds up to this 12th-century village where the flat roofs of the houses are used for drying figs.


Stretched languidly at the confluence of the Var and Roudoule rivers, this village is like a cool drink of water on a hot day. Veer off into the old town to explore the ancient Jewish ghetto and relax in one of the shady cafes that line the river.


Entrance to Entrevaux
This striking village occupies a strategically important spot at the entrance to the Var valley. It was the scene of a massacre in 1536 and then fortified by the great military architect, Vauban, in the 17th century. As a fortified village, Entrevaux is the most evocative in the region with drawbridges and a working olive oil mill.


Amazing but true: Buy a ticket on the Lignes d'Azur for €1.70 and the same ticket is good for travel all the way up to Dignes-les-Bains, a distance of 151km. At one centimes per kilometer it might be the world's cheapest train trip.

Not so for the steam train. The price of the steam train portion runs from €18 to €29 return depending on the itinerary. Check prices and buy tickets on the Train des Pignes website.

Last Updated July 4, 2024

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