Journées du Patrimoine on the Vivarais

Ardeche Miniatures - © Ardeche Miniatures
Vivarais Railway - © Bob Cable
Vivarais Railway - © Bob Cable
Vivarais Railway - © Bob Cable
Steam train connecting Tournon and Lamastre - © Paddo47/shutterstock

Holiday Highlights

  • Experience France’s ‘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 £1,155pp
BOOK NOWTailor this tour for independent travel

Tour Dates:
Thursday 19 September to Monday 23 September 2019

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 Miniatures

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 Ardèche 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 under wraps, you can be confident that there will be special events running. 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 Ferrées du Velay’. Past experience suggests options for journeys with steam locomotives (both sections have Mallets), railcars, and locotracteurs. There is also the possibility of descending 'Les Etroits' by vélorail (cycle railcar). 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 into St Pancras late afternoon.

Tour Route

Tour route map

Selected Hotels

Ibis Styles Lyon Centre Gare Part Dieu, Lyon

Hotel Azalées, Tournon

Please note - hotels can be subject to change

Price Includes

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

Price per person

Escorted holiday: £1,155
Single room supplement: £155
Deposit for this holiday: £100

Booking form

Download your tour booking form here.


Why Choose Ffestiniog Travel?

  • UK's first rail tour operator to run an overseas escorted rail holiday in 1974
  • Created for people who love rail holidays and exploring the world’s heritage railways
  • Dedicated rail holiday specialist - great destinations, sightseeing and unparalled railway content
  • Train ticket supplier for worldwide rail operators - we can plan and arrange your rail journey to anywhere
  • Knowledge of the world’s rail routes makes us leading specialists in escorted and Tailor Made rail holidays
  • Over 60% of our existing rail tour travellers return to holiday with us year after year
  • Committed to supporting rail travel and heritage railways around the world
  • Our profits support the continued preservation of the famous Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways
  • Small, dedicated rail holiday travel team offering an award winning personal service