Tour Date: 8/9 to 19 September 2022Location: France

The PTG slogan is “rail and culture” and that is exactly what this tour sets out to achieve, with a combination of modern and historic trains and fascinating towns and scenery, making this one of our most popular tours.

Whether you are in search of culture and antiquity, with fine architecture and interesting places to visit; or you enjoy travelling on scenic railways that climb mountains; or you want to potter around at your leisure – there is something for everyone on this tour which covers the length of France, hops across into Italy and dives under Monaco!

Using a combination of standard premier travel on Eurostar and first-class travel on the TGV, overland travellers depart London St Pancras on Thursday, with an overnight stay in Paris, before being whisked along the beautiful Cote D’Azur arriving in Nice mid-afternoon on Friday.

The tour includes many scenic highlights: the mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees, the Mediterranean coast of France, the hills of Provence and the Cevennes; as well as many places of historical interest including the Roman amphitheatre in the beautiful city of Nimes.

The railway highlights include a number of routes listed as some finest in Europe (by the European Rail Timetable) such as the Mediterranean coast east of Marseille to the Italian border and the lines heading inland from Nice to Digne-les-Bains and Tende. The tour also includes four steam rides on some lovely heritage railways, but the highlight is the famous Little Yellow Train that takes us high up into the Pyrenees.

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on


Tour Highlights

  • No fly option
  • Steam trains
  • Rack Railway
  • Our own coach to take our luggage
  • First class train travel
  • Historic towns
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1, Thursday

Those travelling overland will depart London St Pancras today on the Eurostar service to Paris Nord. We will be travelling in Standard Premier, so a light snack should be served. On arrival at Paris Nord, you will be met by David and our coach which will be waiting to take us to the Mercure Paris Gare de Lyon, where we will spend the night. It is also possible to fly to Nice tomorrow.

Day 2, Friday (B)

We continue our journey to Nice, catching a morning TGV from the nearby Gare de Lyon. We arrive in Nice mid-afternoon, and after a short coach transfer to the hotel, the remainder of the day will be free for you to enjoy Nice, walking through the narrow streets and alleyways of the Old City – described as a “Baroque Experience” – then strolling along the Promenade des Anglais seafront. Note that for the transport enthusiasts there are modern trams in Nice, and a tram stop not far from our hotel. Direct flights available to Nice from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted*, Luton, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh. Note: From Stansted you fly out on Thursday 8th September for a pre-tour night in Nice.

Day 3, Saturday(B,D)

Today we will ride a slow train on the line SNCF calls the “Train des Merveilles”, from Nice to Tende following the Roya Valley and crossing the Alps into Italy. There are many viaducts and even more tunnels with wild mountain-and-valley scenery. This is an exceptional route and of interest to any railway enthusiast; it includes three spirals and a summit higher than Ben Nevis. We alight at Tende, a charming Alpine town nestled in the deep valley. After time to explore it and have lunch, we travel back down the line as far as Breil-sur-Roya to visit this excellent railway museum. Return to Tende by train at the end of the afternoon. Tonight, we have our Welcome Dinner in a restaurant near the hotel.

Day 4, Sunday (B)

We have a ride the long non-electrified metre gauge CF Provence line from Nice to Digne, a distance of 151 km in a new 2-car DMU with large windows on a very scenic line, on the “Train des Pignes”. We alight at Puget-Theniers to join the steam train hauled by an ex-CP (Portugal) 2-4-6-0T mallet along the same line to Annot. Annot is a fascinating little town in the mountains, and if you venture behind the main square, it seems you have stepped back in time to the 1500s, with old, but well-kept, buildings and narrow streets. We return to Nice in time for dinner.

Day 5 Monday (B)

This morning we travel by train from Nice to Nimes. In the afternoon, we will be joined by a local guide for a guided walk through the historic centre of Nimes. Included in the guided walk are some Roman buildings still standing such as the Amphitheatre “the best preserved in the whole of the Roman Empire” and the Maison Carée, a remarkably well-preserved square temple. We will visit the amphitheatre, which is still in use and regularly hosts concerts.

Day 6, Tuesday (B)

We have a very scenic train trip through the Cévennes from Nimes to La Bastide-St. Laurent. We return to Alés where our coach will be waiting to transfer us to Saint Jean-du-Gard, and the “Train a Vapeur des Cévennes” whose ex-SNCF 2-8-0 steam locomotive was only recommissioned in 2011. This is a lovely 13 km train journey along the Gardons valley, and we do a return trip with a visit to the workshops. There are some fantastic views of the river valley and the Cévennes scenery. After our visit, we return to Nimes by coach.

Day 7, Wednesday (B)

Today we will travel to Avignon – a walled city next the River Rhone and Pont du Gard, an impressive Roman aqueduct built in the 1st century AD. The Pont du Gard is the highest of all Roman aqueducts and is the best preserved along with the aqueduct of Segovia. Because of its historic importance it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. Today it is one of France’s five top tourist attractions with around 1.4 million visitors each year. We head to Avignon in time for lunch. Attractions here include the Papal Palace (the biggest Gothic palace ever built, anywhere). Today the Palace is a place of culture and primarily a tourist attraction. With around 650,000 visitors each year it is regularly among the top ten attractions in France. With its size, architecture and historical significance the Palace regularly serves as an exhibition centre. During your free time, we suggest you visit the famous medieval bridge, the Pont d’Avignon on which one dances as the 15th century song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon” says.

Day 8, Thursday (B,L)

We take the morning service train to Rivesaltes, the start of the preserved “Le Train Rouge”. We begin by riding on a former SNCF railcar as far as Maury where we stop for lunch at a local restaurant. After returning to the train, we travel as far as St Paul de Fenouillet where, weather permitting, we change to a diesel loco-hauled train with open wagons so that we can enjoy the marvellous views as we climb into the mountains. We reach the end of the line through a series of tunnels and alight at Axat, where our coach will be waiting to take us to our hotel in Perpignan.

Day 9, Friday (B)

We will travel from Perpignan to Villefranche-Vernet where we pick up our Little Yellow Train, one of the great railway journeys of the world – a historic metre-gauge electric railway in the French Pyrenees, opened in 1909, and still going strong. The line rises through dramatic scenery from an altitude of 427 metres at its lower terminus at Villefranche de Conflent, to a summit at Bolquère Eyne, France’s highest railway station, lying at an altitude of 1592 metres (5226 ft) above sea level. It then drops down to a high Pyrenean valley, and its terminus at Latour de Carol. On arriving at Latour de Carol, we immediately join our standard gauge train direct to Toulouse, arriving late afternoon. Overnight in Toulouse.

Day 10, Saturday (B)

In the morning we visit the 500-mm narrow gauge Chemin de Fer Touristique du Tarn where we have a steam-hauled charter over the whole line, including a visit to their workshops and the museum. The line is very pretty and steeply graded against outward-bound trains. At the far end of the line there are some beautiful gardens and non-rail fans may wish to pay a quick visit to them.  We return to Toulouse for a free afternoon to explore this city, known as the “pink city” due to the unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks. Note to transport enthusiasts: as well as the new tram line, there is also a driverless metro system in Toulouse.

Day 11, Sunday (B,D)

Our coach will take us to the medieval walled city of Carcassonne where you will have free time to explore the narrow streets and the castle. The walled city is one of France’s “must see” attractions, yet in the 19th century, the government decided to demolish it. Fortunately, it won a reprieve, and is still here today. This afternoon we will have a cruise on the UNESCO World Heritage Canal du Midi, from where we will have views of the walled city. At the end of the afternoon, we return to Toulouse by train.

Day 12, Monday (B)

Return home overland to Paris and London, or by air from Toulouse airport. Direct flights are available to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Bristol and Edinburgh. For Manchester, travel with the rail group to Bordeaux and fly back direct from there.

A generally relatively easy tour as we have our own coach following us to carry our bags and for transfers between the hotel and the station when it is more than a few minutes’ walk. There are two optional walking tours, one of which has a 15-minute walk from the station to the historic centre. Some railway stations do not have lifts or escalators.

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)


2022                2023

From St.Pancras (by rail):     £2,375            £2,495

From Heathrow:                    £2,225            £2,295

From Gatwick:                        £2,195            £2,295

From Stansted*:                    £2,275            £2,375

From Luton:                            £2,195            £2,255

From Bristol:                          £2,250            £2,350

From Manchester:                 £2,250            £2,350

From Edinburgh:                    £2,250            £2,350
Join in Nice                             £1,995            £2,095


Single Use Room Supplements

Main hotels incl Paris:              £600                £640

Main hotels from Nice:            £525                £575

Altern. Hotels incl Paris:          £265                £295

Altern. Hotels from Nice:         £225                £250

* From Stansted is on 8th September with pre-tour night in Nice.


  • £500

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Our own coach which will carry our luggage from hotel to hotel from Lyon to St Jean de Luz.
  • En-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted from Nice to Bayonne.

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

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  • Mercure Paris Gare de Lyon (1 night, for overland passengers on the outward journey)
  • Mercure Nice Centre Notre Dame (3 nights)
  • Novotel Nimes Centre Atria (3 nights)
  • Suites Novotel Perpignan (1 night)
  • Hotel Mercure Toulouse Wilson (3 nights)

Direct Flights

  • BA0354 14:35 Heathrow to Nice (arr 17:45)
  • EZ8357 12:50 Gatwick to Nice (arr 15:55)
  • FR1874 07:00 Stansted to Nice (arr 10:05)
  • EZ2121 07:20 Luton to Nice (arr 10:30)
  • EZ6109 11:00 Bristol to Nice (arr 14:05)
  • LS0833 13:00 Manchester to Nice (arr 16:20)
  • EZ6959 17:55 Edinburgh to Nice (arr 21:35)