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Thread: Mediterranean Cruise VI: Niolon - Martigues - Avignon (50 p.)

  1. #1

    Default Mediterranean Cruise VI: Niolon - Martigues - Avignon (50 p.)

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

    Part 6:
    Diesel action along the Côte Bleue, August 20-21

    The video for this part:


    We continue in the afternoon auf August 20 after a midday nap at the hotel room. In the meanwhile my colleague had explored Marseille station and city and reported of a magic place: efficient, modern ticket counters with no crowds waiting! As I appoached the mentioned location it seemed a little strange that tickets would be sold that far from the main entrance in the modern part of the station. There were indeed no people waiting, and the friendly, attractive girl behind the counter explained to me that only bus tickets were sold here... ;-D

    Our next destination was Niolon, the first station on the spectacular diesel line Marseille - Miramas along the Côte Bleue. We went by RE 79766 consisting of modern DMUs. The line was built at the beginning of the 20th century as rerouting possibility for the main railroad Paris - Marseille.
    As you can see the Côte Bleue keeps what it promises, the sea really is incredibly blue here!

    Now we had to climb the mountain rising between the villages Niolon and La Vesse, the railroad traverses it through a tunnel. A small path led up there which we soon lost, but it was no problem to walk cross country, just the tough mediterranean vegetation is not very nice to your legs...
    Half an hour after our arrival came RE 79767 Miramas - Marseille, here with the Niolon station building.

    On the other side of the cliff with the viaduct of La Vesse and Marseille port, a class BB 67400 diesel loco in blue livery

    People were bathing down in the harbour, but these cold waters are even more popular with divers.

    Just a minute later RE 79768 pulled by a BB 67400 in "en voyage"-livery appeared.

    Fishing boat with lots of seagulls in front of the amazing island scenery of Marseille bay.

    Half an hour and a change of location later: RE 79772 pulled by BB 67400 in (what's still missing? ;-)) "multiservices"-livery

    Normal view

    Panorama view

    Mega-panorama view. To the left La Vesse, to the right Niolon. By car thankfully you can only get here by detour from the hinterland, just the railroad jets along the coast. Even between the two villages there is only a small footpath with steep steps at the seaside.

    Tunnel view at Niolon station

    Now we wanted to get to Martigues, RE 79774 brought us there pulled by BB 67493 (removed new SNCF-logo). For impressions of the ride see video.

    On the way the Martigues the landscape changes dramatically to flat and consequently industrial. However, this had one nice side effect: after three days without finally a freight train! ;-)

    Nice views in Martigues...

    The landscape around Martigues might be flat, but it's cut by the natural Canal de Caronte, the only connection from the sea to Étang de Berre bay. The canal is spanned by a giant bridge which is crossed here by the freight train to the local refinery we saw before.

    The surroundings are quite industrial, but you can avoid them like here with RE 79777 Miramas - Marseille in the evening.

    RE 79778 into the opposite direction

    RE 79785 took us back to Marseille.

    View along the spectacular line near L'Estaque, where the electrified main line joins.

    Next morning (August 21) with such beauty of course we had to take the first outward bound train, RE 79712.

    Getting out at Niolon again

    Double DMUs and the moon

    With RE 79713 to Marseille the first loco-pushed train approached

    View of La Vesse with the sun which had just made it across the mountain ridge

    Down at Niolon station: only small - but it's a freight train!

    RE 79717 passed in full light

    On the viaduct behind the tunnel there was also already beautiful spotlight

    On the footpath we walked over to La Vesse harbour, RE 79722 is being pulled towards Miramas

    Once more with moon because it's so pretty

    Train- and viaduct shadow view with RE 79723 and moon

    To get this view you have to climb a quite risky rubble path, here with RE 79727 consisting of double X72500 DMUs, the shadow can also clearly be seen.

    Now we had an almost two hour train break which we used for cooling off in the sea, while the first group of divers departed.

    A last view of La Vesse and the port of Marseille in the background

    RE 79734 brought us to Miramas from where we caught non-stop RE 79670 to Avignon Centre with just a minute changeover time. The change got interesting because some platforms at Miramas where named with letters like in all major SNCF stations until now, but the departure platform was #2... ;-)
    Arrived inside the old station shed of Avignon Centre (the new TGV-station lies outside the city, connected to the old one by bus shuttle), even if we are not in the Camaaaaaaargue. In front of the hall waits a BB 25500-TGV ;-D

    Where personnel is friendly, I like to take pictures!

    We explored the city, which didn't prove to be very productive, but at least we found some baking goods for the following longer trainride west. What awaited us there will be shown in the next part! :-)

    Up-to-date on Twitter: https://twitter.com/raildata_info @raildata_info
    Roni's trip reports and videos:


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Marquette Rail's north city


    You have some great pictures in these cruise threads. Well done!

  3. #3



    Thanks a lot!

    Up-to-date on Twitter: https://twitter.com/raildata_info @raildata_info
    Roni's trip reports and videos:


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