Journées du Patrimoine on the Vivarais

Ardeche Minatures - © Ardeche Minatures
Bridge over the Rhone at Tournon
Vivarais Railway - © Bob Cable
Vivarais Railway - © Bob Cable
Vivarais Railway - © Bob Cable
Vivarais Railway - © Bob Cable

Holiday Highlights

  • Experience the Heritage weekend on the old Vivarais network
  • Ride the lines on either side of the Rhone-Loire watershed
  • Visit ‘le Jardin des Trains Ardéchois’
  • Private coach transfers to ‘hard to reach’ locations
  • 5 days from £1,050pp
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Tour Dates:
Thursday 14 September to Monday 18 September 2017

This tour capitalises on France’s annual ‘Journées du Patrimoine’ (‘Heritage Days’) when the public gain free access to the country’s buildings, landmarks and monuments. It is an ideal time to visit one of the country’s famous railway networks, the Vivarais.


Day 1 – Rail to Lyon

Leaving London St Pancras mid-morning, we change in Lille for our train to Lyon for a welcome dinner and 1-night stay.

Day 2 – Ardèche Minatures

We take a morning train from Lyon to Saint-Étienne where we are met by our private coach. From now on we shall be seeking to see and experience as much as possible of the remaining portions of the former Vivarais metre gauge railway that was built to cross the watershed between the Rhone and the Loire rivers. Leaving Saint-Étienne, we will make our way to the Rhone, then down the West bank, following one of SNCF’s principal freight routes. Passing through Tournon we will travel to Soyons, the home of ‘le Jardin des Trains Ardéchois'. This realistic representation of ‘Le Mastrou’ and other features of the Ardéche region is a wonderful introduction to the Vivarais network. We travel back to Tournon for a 3-night stay.

Days 3 & 4 – Steam on the Vivarais

Whilst details of the journées du patrimoine are still to be confirmed, you can be confident that there will be special events scheduled. We shall seek to offer travel on both the Rhone (Tournon, St Jean de Muzols to Lamastre) section and the Loire-side lines operated as the ‘Voies du Velay’. Past experience suggests there will be options for journeys with steam locomotives (both sections have Mallets), Railcars, and Locotracteurs. There is also usually the prospect of descending ‘Les Etroits’ by Vélorail (cycle rail-car). A rare opportunity to ride most of the remaining lines of the old Vivarais network, it promises to be a spectacular two days.

Day 5 – Homeward Bound

We take a morning coach back to Valence where we begin our journey back to London via Lille. We arrive at St Pancras late afternoon.

Tour Route

Tour route map

Selected Hotels

Ibis Styles Lyon Part Dieu, Lyon

Hotel Azalées, Tournon

Please note - hotels can be subject to change

Price Includes

  • All rail and coach journeys as specified
  • Accommodation in good quality hotels on a bed and breakfast basis
  • Welcome dinner in Lyon
  • Admission to Ardèche Minatures
  • 2-days on the Vivarais network
  • Services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour

Price per person

Escorted holiday: £1,050
Single room supplement: £145
Deposit for this holiday: £100
Rates of exchange used are as at 1st August 2016

Booking form

Download your tour booking form here.