The International Steam Pages


Rail preservation in Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA)
Part 2 - Museums

Thomas Kautzor writes:

While the region is the third most important economically in France, with the 2nd and 5th largest cities with Marseilles and Nice, and is very dependent on tourism, rail preservation sites are few and far in between.

See also:

Part 1 Tourist Railways

Part 3 Miscellaneous Items


Ecomusée du Haut Pays et des Transports, Breil-sur-Roya: (photos from 2009)

At Breil-sur-Roya, the disused loco shed now houses a local museum ( http://www.ecomusee-breil.com/, which is also home to the ‘Association des Anciens et Amis de la Traction à Vapeur’ (AAATV) railway collection. The most valuable exhibit is probably SNCF 141.R.1108 (Lima 9199/1947, with plate 8966/01-1946), which was based at Nice-Saint Roch depot from 10.07.1961 until 02.12.1964. While based there, it would have been used both to haul prestigious trains such as the “Mistral” to Paris, as well as all-stop trains on the branch line to Breil. It was withdrawn at Vierzon in 1975 and then stored at Nice-Saint Roch from 03/1979 until 1984 and at Monaco until 06/1991 before being put on display at the museum.

Other railway items at the museum include:

SNCF electric loco CC-7140 (CEM/Alsthom/Fives-Lille 5274/1953)
SNCF electric loco BB-8238 (SW-Jeumont 1954)
SNCF diesel shunter Y.2423 (Decauville)
SNCF diesel railcar XABD 2804 (Decauville 1957, withdrawn in 2007)

Plus two X 2100/2200 railcars and a trailer in “Train des Merveilles” livery, three Decauville railcar trailers, a sleeping coach and two postal vans.

Also at home in Breil is the ‘Tramophiles de la Côte d’Azur’ (TCA) collection, which includes:

Tramways de la Côte d’Azur (TCA) tram No. 217 from Nice
RTM PCC tram No. TB.18 from Marseille’s No. 68 tram line

As well as a large collection of buses and trolleybuses.

Musée Provençal des Transports Urbains et Régionaux (MPTUR, http://cppva.free.fr/) :

This museum was established in 1969 at La Barque-Fuveau (Bouches-du-Rhône) station, 12 km south-east of Aix-en-Provence, on the line between Aix and Carnoules. At first the collection was mainly standard gauge, but with the increasing number of narrow gauge items being preserved mainly from neighboring bauxite mines, in 1982 a 1.5 km long 600mm gauge demonstration line was opened, running along the SNCF line to the east at Petit-Bois.

Although the museum is less than 30 minutes away from Marseille, France’s 2nd largest city, there are now less than a handful of aging members volunteering at the museum, which has repeatedly been the victim of scrap collectors and other thieves operating in the area. Those few people however carry on courageously with their preservation mission and the museum opens every Sunday and holiday from 14.30 until 18h. (17.30 during winter months).

The standard gauge collection includes only a few very derelict items:

0-4-0T No. 1 (Henschel “Riebeck” 10677/1911, 400 hp, 1973 ex Société centrale d’hydraulique et de mécanique, Bar-le-Duc, ex E. Delattre & Cie., Ferrière-la-Grande (Nord)) used to be operated over the station tracks until the mid-1980s. After returning from a celebration at Hyères station, where it was steamed, its boiler failed and it has been out-of-use since.
4wDM No. 2 (Berliet 39/1928, 1981 ex C.F. des Alpilles, ex Fournier Cavaillon, ex PLM LZZ BE 39) was also operational until the mid-1980s, but it has seriously deteriorated since then

a SNCF “Bastille” passenger coach (ex- DRG); 
a SNCF postal van; 
a PLM 4000/6000 kg four-wheel hand crane (Casmene 1884). 

The station’s old goods shed is used as the museum and contains part of the MPTUR’s collection of trolleybuses and buses, plus two Marseille electric trams, which used to operate over 1430mm gauge track:

RATVAM bogie tram No. 1268 (track from 1923/24, CVoder body from 1932)
RATVAM four-wheel tram No. 1729 (1903, B class or Coder, re-bodied 1930, 9.47m, 10.72t, 22 seats/40 standing), under restoration. This tram has been has been almost completely restored (woodwork, electric cables, etc…) by a retired Marseille tram driver. The plan is to lay a small demonstration line outside the museum to allow it to operate over a short distance. 

There are also three RATVAM four-wheel wagons: an open wagon, a flat wagon and a tower wagon to work on the overhead line.

  The diesel engine of a Chausson Saviem bus was recently restored by a diesel specialist, and the bus made roadworthy, which now allows the museum to make appearances at local car shows and get some publicity for the museum.

The 600mm gauge railway operates as the “Petit Train de Sainte Victoire (PTSV)” between the museum and Petit Bois (1.5 km). There are crossing loops at the old loco shed, where a masonry water tower and a water crane still stand and where the live steamers from “Vaporistes Amateurs de Provence (VAP)” operate over a small layout on the 3rd Sunday of each month, at Vieux Chêne and at Petit Bois, but these are hardly needed as normally only one train operates. The collection includes 10 narrow gauge diesel mining locos:

  N°. 3 (Pétolat 1928, 12 hp, 1982 ex Carrières de Cheval Blanc) operational ; 
N°. 4 (525mm, Berry 4735 T2 n° 3127/1956, 30 hp, 1986 ex Houillères de Gardanne), 525mm gauge, plinthed with a mine skip at main gate
N°. 6 (Decauville 917/1932, 30 hp, 1985 ex Céramiques Beugin-la-Comté), operational ; 
N°. 7 (Deutz MAH914 G 56602/1959, 1986 ex Mines de Garrot-aux-Arcs, ex Péchiney, Manosque), operational ; 
N°. 8 (Deutz MAH914 G 56652/1961, 1986 ex Mines de Bauxite-le-Luc, ex Péchiney, Manosque), operational
N°. 9 (LLD 3217/1956, 15 hp, ex Mines Alusuisse St-Julien), operational ; 
N°. 10 (Plymouth 1940, 20 hp, 1988 ex Mines de Lorraine), operational ; IMG_0467 
N°. 11 (Berry 3535 T2 n° 835/1960, 5 tonnes, 30hp Piquand PT2 engine, 1992 ex Mine Alusuisse de St-Julien), operational
N°. 12 (Berry 4528 R2, 28hp Agrom 2R engine, 1992 ex Mines de l’Estérel, Le Canet/ex mines de fluorine de Fontsante, Var)
Green loco without N°. (Berry 3535 T2 n° 836/1960, 5 tonnes, 30hp Piquand PT2 engine, 1992 ex Bauxites de Brignoles), operational.
  There are two rakes of three open 12-seat bogie coaches, a green one (cars V53, V55 and no No.) and a yellow one (V51, V56 and the frame of V54). The 16 four-wheel/4-seat open-sided coaches built on Pétolat frames are not in use anymore. In total, the 600mm gauge collection comprises 152 items, mainly mining skips, but also two Tramway Pithiviers-Toury (TPT) four-wheel covered wagons No. K 29 and K 33 (Decauville 1911first picture), one TPT four-wheel open wagon, an Heeresfeldbahn bogie wagon frame, an EIMCO hydraulic loader, a small four-wheel snowplow (2nd picture) and a number of railbikes. There are also 26 items of various other gauges (500, 525 and 750), also mainly from mines.
Until a few years ago bauxite used to still be brought by truck from a nearby mine to the station and stocked in a silo until it was loaded into SNCF wagons. That operation was managed by road transport contractor J.L. Ottoviani and its two diesel locos (Fauvet-Girel No. 302 and Renault No. 303) have been abandoned on site since closure.

Musée des Gueules Rouges, Tourves (Var)

This museum (http://www.museedesgueulesrouges.fr/) commemorates bauxite mining in the area west of Brignoles, which ended in 1987. On display outside are two narrow gauge locos, together with a number of mine tubs:

  A 800mm gauge Berry type C 3655 T4 n°. 813 (8 tonnes, 60 hp Piquand PT4 engine), ex Mines de bauxite de Brignoles/Mine d’Engardin, La Celle;
An Alsthom electric loco
An EIMCO compressed-air front-end loader.
Cable and tub

Two more mining locos can be seen when taking part in the one-hour underground guided tours:

A 600mm gauge Berry type 4755 T4 diesel (8 tonnes, 50 hp Piquand PT4 engine) ex Houillères du Bassin des Cévennes, Puits de Oules;

An LLD diesel.

Ecomusée du Cheminot Veynois :

The small town of Veynes, in the Department of Hautes-Alpes (05), is the crossing point of the SNCF lines from Grenoble to Marseille and from Livron in the Rhône Valley to Briançon on the Italian border. As a former major railway town, its local museum (http://www.ecomusee-cheminot.com) is mainly dedicated to the railwaymen. It is open from June to September and during French school holidays (We-Sa 14-18h).


Rob Dickinson

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