Train des Pignes: Day Trip from Nice

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.

In October I visited Nice for the 2nd time, this time with my mom. As we left the food market of Nice, I noticed the train station of Chemin de Fer and suggested my mom to take a day trip from Nice with the Train des Pignes. During my previous visit to Nice, I also took a day trip from Nice and explored the towns with the Train des Merveilles, click the link to read that story. As my mom was super excited about it, we decided we’d take the train the next day!

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
Modern Entrevaux is connected to medieval Entravaux by a stone bridge.

Train des Pignes

The train des Pignes is a train route which start in Nice and takes you all the way to Digne. It is not operated by the French Railway but by a private train company Chemin de Fer de Provence. The train station is located at 4 Bis Rue Alfred Binet, behind Gare de Sud.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
The old entrance of the train station

Within 3,5 hours, the train des Pignes (Train of Pine Cones) takes you from Nice to Digne Les-Bains. The route is 151km long and will bring you from sea level up to 1.000m

After careful examination of the online timetable of the Train des Pignes, and the prices, we decided not the take the train des Pignes all the way to Digne. It would mean 7 hours on the train and we found it a bit too expensive.

We decided to cut our travel time and expenses in half and opted for a retour journey to Entrevaux, a medieval town with a fortress along the route.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
Gateway to the medieval town

Steam Train

Every Sunday between May and October (check data), a steam train will depart from Puget to Théniers. This is your chance to experience a part of the route riding an authentic steam train from the start of the 20th century. The steam train is connected to the regular train service, but you must reserve your seat in advance.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
The steam train taking off

Taking the Train des Pignes to Entrevaux

We took the 9.24 am train from Nice to Digne and we decided we would get off in Entrevaux. We were running a little late as we had troubles finding the actual entrance to the train station. Once there, the train was signaling his departure and I found a long queue lined up for the ticket office. No vending machines or anything.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
The actual entrance of the train station

As we were almost missing our train, we were directed towards the train and we were allowed to buy our tickets on the train. I was relieved when the train moved away from the station. In all the panic, we didn’t really investigate where we would sit. It would be a 1,5 hour train journey to Entrevaux but we took the first seats we could find.

As it was Sunday, the train was crowded and we found the only two empty seats at the back of the train. As the Train des Pignes has two engines (one in the front, one at the rear), we had clear uninterrupted views through the control booth.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
Views from the train des Pignes

It turned out this made our day trip from Nice even more spectacular as we had 180 degrees views from our seats.

We left the streets of Nice behind and slowly followed the river into the mountains. One moment, the river Var was to our right, the next to our left. As we were travelling backwards, it felt like we were sucked into the gorges of the river Var and her deep valleys.

The sun played hide and seek behind the clouds, casting her sun rays every once in a while. This made for a dramatic scenery and my mom and I were constantly oohing and ahhing all the while with our noses pressed against the glass window.

Read more: Colours of the Provence, France

Day trip from Nice to Entrevaux

After 1,5 hours, we chugged into the railway station of Entrevaux. It was 11 am and the sun was out. We walked into town and decided to have 2nd breakfast first. Enjoying our coffee and sandwich on this lazy Sunday morning, we saw small French town life come to life. We told each other how lucky we were to experience this together.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
Panorama of the medieval French town Entrevaux

Just a few hours ago we were in crowded urban Nice and now we were teleported to medieval Entrevaux. Taking a last bite of our baguettes, we smiled at each other because tomorrow at work, we would not believe we just sat here 24 hours ago.

Entrevaux is only 60km from Nice and its main attraction is the 17th century town and the Vauban fortress overlooking the valley. You can access the old town of Entrevaux by the stone bridge with the river running beneath it.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
Medieval Entrevaux with the castle on top of the hill.

Entrevaux Fortress

After walking around in the old town of Entrevaux, we had visited the old church and had some pretty amazing views of the old streets and city lay out.

We decided to climb to the fortress at the top of the hill. In the town, there is a tourniquet style gate. You need to pay 3€ in coins at the machine (you can also buy a coin at the tourist office down town). Ok, the ascend could begin. Maybe for a fit person, it would take 20 minutes to climb to the fortress.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
View on the stacked roofs

Let’s just say it took me a little bit longer, but I made it. On our way up, we enjoyed the spectacular views of the valley and the river. We tried to take pictures from all the roofs of the medieval town of Entrevaux.

Read more: World Heritage Sites in Orange, France.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
The river Var and the valley of Entrevaux

When we reached the fortress we followed the route and walked around. All the way in the top tower, we had the best views of the whole area. The old city beneath us, the roofs piled up like scales of a fish.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
Views across the valley

The river encircling the old town, cutting her way through the rocks, and the massive granite stone peaks enclosing the valley.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
Here you can see the great lay out of medieval Entrevaux

My mom and I looked at each other and just smiled: we were so lucky to experience this.

Looking for more inspiration to travel to the hearth of France? Check out these amazing photo’s of France’s  Tignes.

Have you ever considered the train for a day trip? Have you been to Entrevaux? Do you like train travel? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Make sure to check out
my day trip from Nice: Train des Merveilles too.

The train des Pignes is an amazing day trip from Nice, France. You can take the steam train and explore the medieval town of Entrevaux or Tende.
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37 Comments

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  2. Growing up in India train journeys have been always the way to travel for me within the country . Yet, I still get excited like a child even now. I guess there’s something about sitting by the windown watching the world go by.

    The valley looks amazing too. The greenery and the mountains reminded me of my travels in some parts of Vietnam

  3. Ah awesome post – i feel like i was travelling right along with you and your mom haha. I’ve been to Nice twice and always did day trips to Monaco but never Entrevaux! I’d actually never heard of it prior to reading this, so thanks for introducing it to me 🙂 I love exploring medieval towns & fortresses so this would be right up my alley. That overhead shot of the town is super epic too. Would love to see this myself one day!

  4. That steam train just reminds me of Harry Potter hahah!
    I personally haven’t been around France all that much (only been to Paris but as a child) so it’ll be nice to do more exploring around the country and the views of the countryside from the train would be amazing… I find myself always looking for small medieval towns when I’m travelling around Europe so I reckon I’d love Entrevaux!

    Thanks for this, wouldn’t have thought about it otherwise!

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