© CRT Côte d'Azur / Georges VERAN
Discovering the valleys of the Alpes-Maritimes

with the Train des Merveilles

Explore the Alpes-Maritimes on the Train des Merveilles. From Nice to Tende, this TER railway line goes through a variety of landscapes, from the Mediterranean to the Mercantour National Park. Stand clear for departure!

Published on 4 May 2021

All aboard the Train des Merveilles

Panoramas to discover in comfort

The Train des Merveilles was inaugurated in 1928 after work was started in 1883. Its itinerary covers around a hundred kilometres and crosses several exceptional structures, among them 100 bridges and viaducts and as many tunnels and retaining walls. From Nice to Tende, you will go through the Paillon and Roya-Bévéra valleys. Another form of transport for your holidays in the Alpes-Maritimes with its 12 train stops. An unusual feature: the railway line goes from sea-level to 1,000 metres! The TER train is now air-conditioned, and you can travel in comfort. You can even take your bike. Bonus: make the most of the commentary by the guide-lecturer on board in season, every day in July / August / September and weekends at the end of June and October; departure at 9:16 am!

From Peillon-Sainte-Thècle to Peille

Nature and heritage walks in the Paillon valley

After having left Nice, the train stops a few times before arriving in Peillon, the first village to visit on your trip. Listed among the Monuments Historiques, the medieval village can be reached after a one-hour walk from the station. Have a pleasant wander through its little streets and see the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs with its magnificent 15th century paintings by Canavesio. You can also visit the Musée du Patrimoine Ferroviaire “Flaminius Raiberti” (Museum of Railway Heritage) in the Sainte-Thècle station and learn more about the line and how it was built. To get to Peille, you can walk or cycle along a path in the Paillon valley: the circuit de Lourquière. There are many walks surrounded by the smells of Provence to choose from around the little town perched on its rock, with its cobbled streets and fountains. The Musée du Terroir completes this colourful discovery of Provence.

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From l’Escarène to Breil-sur-Roya

In the heart of the Bévéra and Roya valleys

The visit of the Alpes-Maritimes continues with L’Escarène. Just next to the station, the village stretches along the Paillon and the Redebraus. Admire the medieval houses and buildings, set off on the ScarenaBerra, a botany trail, or visit the olive oil mill. On the other side of the Col-de-Braus tunnel, the Sospel’s Pont Vieux bridge with its tower appears along with its arcaded square. Listen to the song of the fountains and the river, water is everywhere here and keen white water sports enthusiasts will have a great time. You can also walk up to the forts on the Alpine Maginot line. 10 minutes from the station, Breil-sur-Roya stands beside the river of the same name. The olive tree and its symbols have pride of place here. After a rafting descent in the Roya valley, why not complete your discovery of the railway world and visit the Ecomusée du Haut Pays et des Transports (Ecomuseum of the Haut-Pays and Transport).

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From Fontan to Saorge

All the splendours of religious art

You will arrive in Fontan after just 15 minutes walking from Fontan station. This is a stop which has been known to travellers since the 17th century. Its architecture is highly influenced by Italy which is just next door. The superb Church of Notre-Dame de la Visitation has a listed organ. You can hike on the trail of the hilltop villages or up to the Crête de Maraute by the Granges de Fontan nearby. And of course, you can do canoeing and mountain biking! A stone’s throw away, the Monastery of Saorge is the pride of the village with its exceptional character. Added to its incredible architecture, this former Franciscan convent has pleasantly cool and peaceful garden.

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From Saint-Dalmas to Tende

A walk to the Vallée des Merveilles

The last 3 villages on the itinerary can be reached on foot on the circuit which is known as the “3 village circuit”. It will take you 1½ hours to walk from Saint-Dalmas to La Brigue and another 2 hours to reach Tende. Saint-Dalmas-de-Tende was once an Italian town, and it has actually only been French for the last 70 years. The former mining town has a magnificent listed railway station. There are a lot of hikes in the Vallée des Merveilles and the Mercantour National Park. Riding and cani-randos (hiking with dogs) are original ways to discover the region. In La Brigue, the history of the place can be traced through several listed monuments. Try and track down the Collégiale Saint-Martin and the remains of the Château des Lascaris. The Musée du Patrimoine et des Traditions Brigasques (museum of La Brigue heritage and traditions) is a must where you can dive into the savoir-faire of artisans and local people’s day-to-day life through the ages. You will at last arrive in Tende, the gateway to the Vallée des Merveilles where a myriad of excursions await you: hikes, via ferrata, heritage walks… Head for the Musée des Merveilles to get some valuable insight into this magnificent valley,

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