Nice was at the heart of a network of metre-gauge railway lines which included a significant number of rural tramways/tramroads as well as more traditional railway lines - all of them metre-gauge. France had a significant series of secondary routes and routes of general interest with a track gauge of 1 metre. One of these routes is still in use - the Nice to Digne Line and is commercially viable. It has recently replaced older railway stock with modern DMUs. The websire Provence and Beyond (http://www.beyond.fr/travel/railpignes.html
) talks of this metre-gauge line as follows:
"This 1-meter gauge railway runs between Nice and Digne-les-Bains, 151 km, and takes about three hours. The track follows rushing rivers and steep-sided mountain valleys, many not accessible by car, and the view is magnificent. The ride is an adventure. The stations are old, tiny and personal, with everything on a human level. The name Train des Pignes comes from the pinecones, once used for tinder to start the steam engines."
Steam trains can still be used on the line but the line is generally operated by very modern rolling stock.
The lines I have been focussing on are no longer in use. The first of these is the Central Var line which leaves the Nice to Digne line not far from Nice itself and runs to Meyrargues a little north and east of Marseilles. It closed fully in 1950.
The second post in the series takes us from Le Tunnel de Les Champignonnieres, Saint-Jeannet to Vence Station.