A French Pyrenees Train Adventure
The Little Yellow Train – Le Petit Train Jaune
Check out this French Pyrenees train adventure. We had a great time and believe you would too.
Located in the French Pyrenees Mountains, on the border of France and Spain, is The Little Yellow Train. Locally known as Le Petit Train Jaune.
This French Pyrenees train, built in 1909, is very popular in summer, sometimes selling out so be sure to reserve tickets the previous day or very early in the morning. There are no seated tickets either, so be sure to be at the platform early so you can choose your seats.
The French Pyrenees Train adventure starts in a village called Villefranche-de-Conflent, although the train station is offiically known as Villefranche-Vern. The railway finishes at Latour de Carol. Of course there are many charming and picturesque villages to visit in between. Along the way be prepared for stunning views, snowy mountain tops, quaint villages, old bridges, lots of tunnels and grassy fields covered in flowers.
We chose to visit Mont Louis because this village is high up in the mountains and just a 12 minute walk from the train station. We also chose Mont Louis because the way the timetable worked, it gave us 75 minutes to explore the village before the return train.
Both Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont Louis are Vauban fortified towns and UNESCO world heritage sites. Just inside the walls of both the towns you will find a tourist information shop where they offer brochures and guided tours.
Villefranche-de-Conflent also offers a unique chance to visit Fort Liberia, another Vauban fortification, perched on the mountainside above the town. At €7 per person to visit, it is well worth the 1000 steps up (and down) the hill. Not only to gain magnificent views of the town, set in the middle of three valleys but also a self-guided tour through the Fort with information leaflets supplied in several languages.
This historic Fort was built in the 17th Century to protect the town Villefranche during war. Be sure to spend some time just walking around the quaint village too. There is plenty of parking just outside the walls.
This French Pyrenees Train can be booked with the French railway company SNCF. We paid €15.80 return for an adult to Mont Louis. The further you go, the more expensive the ticket of course.
Tips and Advice
When the weather is good the open carriage (only one) is best for viewing the scenery and therefore the most popular. During cold weather, the indoor carriages (3) are heated and protected from the icy wind and rain. Again, keep in mind it is ‘first in, first served’.
The length of the trip from Villefranche to Mont Louis takes about an hour and 15 minutes so be sure to go to the toilet at the train station before you get on. There are no toilets on board.
When you reach your destination there is only a limited choice for places to eat. We found it helpful to pack some lunch to eat on the train while enjoying the surroundings and then we managed to find a quiet cafe for a hot drink in Mont Louis.
You will need to pay for car parking at the station, it was just €3 for the day when we were there.