Culture, Enthusiast

Steaming Through NE France and the Netherlands

30 April to 7 May
France, Belguim, Netherlands

A varied tour of narrow gauge lines in Northern France, Belgium and Holland – with some standard gauge thrown in!

In the year of the Centenary of the end of the ‘Great War’, we visit locations with strong connections to that tragic conflict plus others with locomotives that originated in the trenches. In addition, we have some classic French narrow gauge and two more obscure Dutch lines.

We stay in three excellent cities – Amiens, Ghent and Leiden – all of which are attractive destinations in their own right with plenty of atmosphere and ‘cafe culture’!

Highlights

  • The Baie de la Somme railway
  • A railway in a Zoo
  • The Maldegen Railway festival
  • Ouddorp RTM tramway
  • Museums, runpasts and lovely cities
Itinerary

Day 1 Monday 30 April (D) Flights from many UK airports or overland from St Pancras via Eurostar. Transfer by tour coach to Amiens for hotel. Welcome dinner in hotel.

Day 2 Tuesday 1 May (B) Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme (metre gauge). An early start (08:00) to catch steam-up at Saint-Valéry Canal. Ride on the delightful vintage trains along the whole 27km route from Le Crotoy to Saint-Valéry-sur Somme beside the protected wetlands of the Somme estuary and out to the seaside town of Cayeux sur Mer. There will be opportunities to ‘chase the train’ for the photographers. There is flexibility for guests who do not want to spend the entire day chasing trains to visit one of the delightful local towns. Second night at hotel in Amiens.

Day 3 Wednesday 2 May (B) Froissy –Cappy –Dompier (60cm gauge). A day on this fascinating railway with our own charter train. Visit to the museum and plenty of opportunities to photograph run-pasts etc, especially around the tunnel and zig-zag between Cappy and Santerre. OPTION: late evening photo event at sheds with lighting. Third night at hotel in Amiens.

Day 4 Thursday 3 May (B) MTVS at Crèvecœur-le-Grand (metre gauge) Le Musée des Tramways à Vapeur et des Chemins de fer Secondaires Français (MTVS) specializes in preserving equipment from tramway/secondary lines in France. For a long time their base was at Butry Sur Oise but due to lack of future potential a new site has been acquired at Crèvecœur-le-Grand. This is a former standard gauge industrial branch, which is rapidly being converted to metre gauge. A large industrial building on site now has a roof and a lot of stock is starting to move over. In the afternoon, we will travel to Ghent for our overnight stay. OPTION of charter tour with PCC Tram car (TBC) in the evening.

 

Day 5 Friday 4 May (B) Pairi Daiza Zoo Park Railway (60cm) This relatively new railway runs around an excellent zoo – lots of animal attractions to see as well as the trains! The fleet includes a Brigadelok, Polish LAS and WW1 Henschel 0-6-0T.  Special train with photo run-pasts (mind the Bison) and brewery! Second night at hotel in Ghent.

Day 6 Saturday 5 May (B) Maldegem Festival   A major event with an emphasis on railways of the First World War with up to 4 steam locos, including visiting Prussian T7 running on the standard gauge and Joffre from Apedale and Hanomag 0-4-0T, + one other from UK (TBC) on the narrow gauge (60cm) line. Coach to Leiden for overnight stay.

Day 7 Sunday 6 May (B) Ouddorp RTM tramway (1067mm gauge) A late start to give guests an easy morning and an opportunity to explore Leiden, which is a fantastic Dutch City. After lunch we travel by coach to Ouddorp for a ride behind steam or in the diesel/electric tram! Located within the famous polders of Zeeland, this unusual museum has a wide variety of rolling stock, including restored tramcars and some lovely historic carriages. If the weather is good you can even swim or lie on the beach. Bracing as they say! Overnight again in Leiden

Day 8 Monday 7 May (B) Stoomtrein Katwijk – Leiden  (70cm) A relatively early start (09:00)  to visit this small museum railway. 700mm gauge lines are not common, though many Javanese Sugar Plantation Railways are to this gauge – a legacy of Dutch colonization. This line was originally a sand railway and subsequently has acquired a major collection of artifacts from the small industrial railways of the Netherlands. The railway started off in the 1980s at another location and moved to Valkenburgse Meer in 1993. The museum was significantly expanded in 2003. Lunch and then transfer to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for return flights. Option to add-on days in Amsterdam.

Flights

BA314 13.20 Heathrow to Paris CDG (arriving 16.20)
BA439 16.20 Amsterdam to Heathrow (arriving 16.40)

EZY6955 13.25 Edinburgh to Paris CDG (arriving 16.20)
EZY6924 15.30 Amsterdam to Edinburgh (arriving 16.00)

EZY1927 14.20 Manchester to Paris CDG (arriving 16.50)
EZY1834 17.40 Amsterdam to Manchester (arriving 18.00)

AF1065 14.05 Birmingham to Paris CDG (arriving 16.20)
KLM1431 16.35 Amsterdam to Birmingham (arriving 16.50)

EZY8325 13.50 London Gatwick to Paris CDG (arriving 16.10)
EZY8876 15.50 Amsterdam to London Gatwick (arriving 16.10)

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • Full 8 day holiday including flight from Gatwick: £1,150
  • Full 8 day holiday by rail from St Pancras: £1,190
  • Own flight arrangements: £950

Options

  • Single room supplement: £190
  • Flight prices from other UK airports: POA

Deposit

  • Travelling by air or rail: £500
  • Own travel: £300

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, D = Dinner
  • Services of our local tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted (from Paris).

Flights

  • Direct flights to Paris and back from Amsterdam from most UK airports.
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