The Essential Guide to French Heritage and Tourist Railways
Also listed are 19 of the most scenic TER-SNCF railway routes and 24 museums, one of which is closed (AMTUIR in the Île de France region) but it does open on special occasions and possibly on request. A further 19 locations and/or organisations have been identified where matériel roulant - locomotives, autorails, carriages and wagons - have been preserved and are exhibited or in some instances are stored. Much of this rolling stock, lovingly restored and maintained, has been approved for excursions on Réseau Ferré France (RFF) - Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) tracks, usually on Sundays when regular services are reduced. Included in this number are some other organisations which organise excursions using preserved locomotives or autorails. Seventeen places are listed where vélorail facilities are available. Finally, to clarify the current position in France, a further nine tourist railways have been briefly listed (not part of the total of 160 mentioned above) which are no longer in business.
Many of the railways identified here travel on routes, long and short, invariably through outstandingly beautiful countryside with a few others operating on purpose-built track laid in country amusement parks, thus offering something for all the family. In addition, the vélorail, for example, is a recent phenomenon in France and another facility that has universal appeal to families. There are two basic types of ‘locomotion’ – one form is effectively two pedal cycles (vélos) welded together by a metal frame to which is fitted a bench seat for the non-pedalling passengers or for luggage; and the other, a cyclo-draisine with wheels between 10 and 20 centimetres diameter and is a variation on a traditional self-propelled railcar. Both types of machine require human energies to be expended, but the benefits a vélorail journey brings is a worthwhile form of exercise and a pleasant group activity, as well as an opportunity to appreciate the countryside as viewed from a former local railway route.
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