At a glance
- Scenic train
Travelling on Le Petit Train Jaune
The scenic route followed by the narrow-gauge Petit Train Jaune (the name means Little Yellow Train) is called the Ligne de Cerdagne. This rail route operates all year round between Latour de Carol and Villefranche-Vernet les Bains, from where you can continue down to the coast on a standard-gauge train. Run by TER, a subsidiary of French national operator SNCF, the Petit Train Jaune is the perfect antidote to high-speed travel, running as it does at a maximum of just 56 kilometres per hour. Electrified and environmentally friendly, the Petit Train Jaune has run for over 100 years.
The entire route of the Petit Train Jaune is about 63 km long; the full journey lasts three hours and takes in some fabulous Pyrenean scenery, skirting the Spanish border along the way. The highest point on the route at Bolquère-Eyne (1,592m) is also the highest station on the French rail network. The Little Yellow Train serves the UNESCO-listed sites of Villefranche and Mont Louis la Cabanasse. From the west end of the line at La Tour de Carol there are five trains daily south to Barcelona and a similar number of trains north to Toulouse.
Accommodation on the Petit Train Jaune is Standard Class only. In summer, some of the train’s yellow-and-red carriages are open-top and thus offer a special kind of railway experience – think tunnels, viaducts and bridges. Fun, but it will play havoc with your hair. In 2004, two modern air-conditioned railcars with toilets and panorama windows were added to the fleet. However they do not run on the same trains as those with the popular open-top carriages.
Seating and sleeping on Le Petit Train Jaune
Expect spartan conditions on the Petit Train Jaune. Seating is basic – whether inside the covered or open-top carriages. Prepare for a ride that is less than smooth. This is a railway adventure, one where you’ll be rewarded by the wonderful scenery of the Parc Naturel Régional de Pyrénées Orientales.
Food and drink on Le Petit Train Jaune
Bring your own
There are no rules against bringing your own food and drink on board the Petit Train Jaune. But if you opt to ride in the open carriages, you’ll quickly find it’s no place for a sedate picnic. Scenery and sightseeing take priority on this extraordinary rail route. Save your sandwiches for a lineside picnic at a stopover somewhere along the journey.