Mediterranean Rail Cruise 2008
from Milano Centrale to Barcelona Sants by local train

Part 5:
Morning at the Côte d'Azur, Night at Marseille central station, August 20-21


Early morning before six we were back at Nice Ville station and I had to start the ticket buying adventure again, this time with one open counter, the corresponding queue and a stressed out night shift worker. In addition two backpacking tourists complained that the day before they had missed their train, then had gone to the info, by doing that had missed their next train and now blocked the counter in protest until they were removed by security personnel. As a consquence the tired ticket clerk only wanted to sell me a "Carte Isabelle" but not the connecting ticket Fréjus - Marseille.

Miraculously I still reached RE 81105 which brought us to Villefranche-sur-Mer, the first station out of Nice towards Monaco.

The train was pushed by BB 25614 in blue-red-white livery

The railroad line continues along the nice bay

Soon RE 81114 Ventimiglia - Les Arcs Draguignan approached into the other direction

RE 81122 to Nice Ville departing the station

We explored the small coastal town, in the meanwhile another double deck rake stopped at the station

Villefranche is the biggest cruise harbour of France, sadly I only caught the last glimpse of a ship sailing away. This doesn't mean I don't have photos of the harbour with cruise ships, just wait for the last part of the trip reports... ;-)

Our rake from this morning returned as RE 81130

RE 81117 going east

Not thaaaat much has changed since Boudin's times...

The bay panorama being traversed by TER Inter-Cité 17471 Toulon - Ventimiglia

Of course pensioners are the first to arrive at the beach again ;-)

Moon view with station and RE 81138 to St. Raphael-Valescure

Town reflection inside a double deck train

On the other side of the bay we met TGV 6174 Ventimiglia - Paris Gare de Lyon, the only TGV running on this line, consisting of a combination of older engines and newer Duplex cars.

Back at the station with RE 81137 to Ventimiglia

RE 81154 was closing, it would have given me half an hour more time for ticket buying at Nice...

... but we still had another train to take pictures of...

... EC 139 "Riviera dei Fiori" Nice Ville - Milano Centrale which we already had photographed at Cervo.

One more regional train into the other direction, then we had to move on.

RE 81158 brought us to Nice where I "quickly" went to buy the remaining ticket, but it was no problem to reach TER Inter-Cité 17488 Ventimiglia - Marseille St. Charles. It was a good idea to enter the train at Nice, these TER intercity trains are always quite full, the people getting in at Cannes already had to stand. Maybe a few more cars would have been nice, you could see that these lowest class of trains had been put together from various older express cars, every car looked a little different on the inside. Some had separate women's and men's bathrooms, which surprised me since the separation in French restaurants is actually less strict than in other European countries.
After a quite convenient 2 1/2 hours ride we arrived at Marseille and I could put in a little nap before it was time to explore the spectacular Marseille - Miramas diesel line. But more about that next time, now I will continue with impressions from Marseille main station after returning the same evening.

The nice old shed of St. Charles station, to the left there are more platforms.

How great unified new logo stickers are! ;-D

At the well known stone stairs in front of the station

The new Zidane?

Here we had accomodation in viewing range of the station. The only youth hostel of the trip, but the room was twice as big, the bathroom a palace compared to the ones at the hotel in Nice.

Early morning again the next day

Two familiar French mademoiselles, Marie-Claire and Brigitte (we adopted the name from Slovenian railroads for the trip, it simply fits... ;-)), the right one was pulling night train Lunea 4297 Strasbourg - Nice Ville the last meters into Marseille St. Charles.

TGV 6852 to Dijon Ville ready for departure on the same platform

Now it was time to get to our local train - in the next part there will be diesel action with breathtaking coastal scenery! :-)