The idea of a
railway line which would link Nice, on the coast to Grenoble, high in the alps
was first conceived in 1861 by Alphonse Beau de Rochas. The intended route was
to be via the Var valley. In 1882 the military authority gave its consent for
construction of the line to begin. The builders decided to adopt a metre gauge
line, rather than standard gauge, which would help to navigate the routes very
steep terrain. Narrow gauge instead of one metre forty permitted the use of much
tighter curves and help lower construction costs.
1891 - First section of the line opened between Digne and
1892 - Inauguration of the
Nice - and Puget-Théniers section.
1911 - Nice to Digne fully operational from 3rd July.
The railway had a second line which branched off the Nice
to Digne route at Colomars. This line ran west, passing over the
spectacular Pont du Loup viaduct, through Vence and onwards to Grasse
and eventually Draguignan. It is this narrow gauge metre line that passed
through the olive groves of The Domaine, just under the windows of the
house, and which John and Winifred Fortescue nicknamed The Spuffle Train, because of its 'spuffling' progress along the mountainside.
The spectacular Pont du Loup viaduct which was blown up during
- some of the columns are still visible today