The Little Yellow Train

My previous post in this series was Canal du Midi.

Another gem we unearthed during the fun planning and researching phase was The Little Yellow Train.  The rail line was constructed 100 years ago to link remote villages that are stuck in the nooks and crannies of the Pyrenees. It still performs this function today in addition to being a tourist draw for a unique jaunt into these mountains in the south of France.

The train leaves from Villefranche de Conflent, which was about an hour west of our apartment in St-André. Villefranche de Conflent – there are many Villefranche’s in France, hence the ‘de Conflent’ – is worthy of a visit in itself and is another UNESCO  World Heritage site.

Fortified since 1090, its medieaval stone walls have been continuously repaired over the centuries and still stand.

Fort Liberia sits protectively above the town, occupying a strategic position affording views down three valleys that lead to Villefranche. There is a shuttle up to the fort; however, the more interesting route is the underground concealed passageway known as the ’milles marches’ or 1000 steps.

Fort Liberia courtesy of Widipedia

We caught the 1.15 p.m.yellow train and meandered through the French countryside – average speed about 55 kph or 34 mph …

slowly climbing,

over a viaduct,

through a tunnel or two,

through the station at Bolquère-Eyne which is the highest station in France at 5,226 ft, and arrived in Font-Romeu just after 3 p.m.

Due to the scheduling and our timing we weren’t able to do the full route – we de-trained in Font-Romeu and caught the return one back to Villefranche.

We have a special fondness for the Little Yellow Train and it holds one of the top spots in our “do-you-remember-when-we …”

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