The train trail
The holiday train
It all begins in the station of a small seaside resort: the charming “holiday camp” Micheline arrives, purring quietly since it runs on rubber tyres and without the usual clatter of iron wheels. This is the moment to mention André Michelin’s celebrated case of insomnia that gave birth to the idea when, during a journey in a sleeping car, he decided to build a train that ran on rubber wheels in order to put an end to the constant clatter of the steel wheels on the rail joints.
Railways and moutains
In the darkness a panting steam train can be heard, pushing a rotary snow-plough. A turbine struggles, wheezes, sputters and finally stalls. Now, in the daylight, it is clear what has happened: the coupling is stuck in a snowdrift at the exit from a narrow valley. An audiovisual presentation tells the tale of the train as it battles through the mountains, and of the building of enormous viaducts and transalpine tunnels.
This is also an opportunity to recall the conquests of some of Europe’s great summits, and in particular the Saint Gervais – Chamonix – Vallorcine line, which the PLM (Paris-Lyons-Mediterranean railway company) began building in 1899. With its Z209 motorised baggage car and Etf 420 gondola, this train has enchanted generations of skiers and mountaineers.
It was under the Second Empire that imperial trains came into being in France. Companies in those days took pride in providing a train for the use of the Emperor and his family. What came to be known as “Empress Eugénie’s” parlour car was built in 1856 and initially served as a dining room for the Aides-de-Camp in the Paris-Orléans imperial train. It was modified in 1889 by the addition of a platform. The interior and exterior decorations were done by the architect Viollet le Duc...
Railways and war
A loud explosion. A derailed locomotive is seen lying on its side on the embankment. Behind it, the rails are completely mangled. The battle of the railways is reconstructed from wartime footage showing various acts of sabotage. Finally, in an isolated siding in a tunnel, the 209613 Kkwf Est covered wagon of 1909 recalls with the aid of a sober audiovisual narration, the role of the railways in the Deportation.
The railways workers
It’s not all just about trains and equipment: the Cité du Train also wanted to revive memories of the railway workers. First and foremost there were the engine-drivers and firemen, true “Lords of the Railway”; they formed a loyal team, completely at one with their engine. One of the things engine-drivers had to do was check 50 greasing points in the space of an hour. Visitors see the firemen feeding the boiler with water and the firebox with coal, breaking briquettes, damping the coal, etc.
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th class, Pullman, sleeper, car in imperial or restaurant car, choose your comfort according to your type of journey: professional, private or of the everyday life.
On both sides of a platform are exposed several railroad materials offering various types of comfort according to the need for the travelers as the wooden seat of 4th class, the luxurious armchairs of cars Pullman or still imitation leather of 3rd class.