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 Mézel.
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 WWII
- some of the columns are still visible today