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In our many trips to Nice and Les Alpes Maritimes, my wife and I have seen a significant amount of engineering works, bridges, viaducts and tunnels all on lines which were neither part of the PLM network of standard gauge railways, nor part of the general metre-gauge network. It turns out that there were a significant number of lines operated by two main tramway companies in Provence, Tramways de les Alpes Maritime (TAM) and Tramways de Nice et du Littoral (TNL).

These tramways ran on metre-gauge tracks but had a loading gauge not much wider than the track-gauge. In many places they ran alongside roads or within the highway itself, but often they deviated away from the highway or their own formation.

The one which first drew our attention was the Sospel to Menton Tramway which was operated by the TNL. This is the story: ... rovence-51
Grasse was at one stage full of different rail transport. Two tramways, one from Cagnes-sur-Mer and one from Cannes approached the town from the south. A PLM branchline also linked Grasse to Cannes. There was a funicular railway linking the PLM (SNCF) railway station to the town centre, and there was the Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France Central Var line crossing the town on its way between Nice and Meyrargues.

This post covers the first part of the story of the TAM tramway between Cagnes-sur-Mer and Grasse:

This is the second half of the story of the TAM tramway between Grasse and Cagnes-sur-Mer:

These next two posts cover the PLM/SNCF line which accesses Grasse and the funicular in the centre of the town.

And finally, for Grasse, the remaining tramway which was not run by the TAM or the TNL. It ran from Grasse down to Cannes. Here is its story:
The TNL built a line from Nice to Levens, it extended the urban line that went from Nice to Saint-André-de-la-Roche.

This is the first of two posts that focus on the line and covers the length from Nice to Tourrette-Levens.

The second covers the line further north, running from Tourrette-Levens to Levens. I have used what railway modellers sometimes call 'modeller's license' ... the freedom to use our imagination.

The first half of the blog follows the tramway that might have been built via Aspremont and Saint-Blaise to Levens. It was certainly planned.

The second half of the blog focuses on the actual route along the M19.

I hope you like it!
It is a while since I posted about the tramways in Nice. I have been concentrating on a series of posts about the metre-gauge lines in Kenya and Uganda. That series of posts is now complete and I can focus once again on the South of France metre-gauge tramways and railways.

The TNL grew in size in the years before the first world war but had great difficulty in getting new lines authorised and built

This post focusses on the years immediately before the First World War. It was at this time that the network reached its fullest extent and it was the time when it was both in its best condition and carrying the greatest number of passengers. After the First World War things began to change and competition from other forms of transport increased.
This post covers a short-lived tramway which left the Nice to Digne line of the Chemin de Fer de Provence at Plan du Var. It travelled up the Valley of the River Vesubie as far as St. Martin Vesubie. The line lasted no more than 20 years but was effective in opening up the valley of the Vesubie to tourism and vastly aided the agrarian economy. The post below has also been included in the story of the Nice to Digne metre-gauge main line.

Tramway services left Plan du Var Station travelling North and diverged from the Nice to Digne line before reaching the Vesubie River. The images below are old postcards of the location of the junction and show the development of the site over a number of years. Initially a stone arch bridge took the road over the Vesubie, but when this failed it was replaced by the concrete arch bridge visible in some of the pictures.
This post covers another short-lived tramway which provided a service up the valley of l'Esteron from Pont Charles Albert over the River Var to Roquesteron, a distance of more than 20 kilometres.


Before the tramway was constructed the Charles Albert Bridge was a suspension bridge (built by Marc Seguin in the mid-19th Century) [2] but this bridge was not designed to accommodate tramway loading. In 1913 it was rebuilt to accommodate the trams, just as was necessary with the Pont de la Mescla on the Tinée tramway. The replacement structure had six spans of over 30 metres in concrete built by the company Thorrand. In the foreground of the image immediately below, there is the Pont-Charles Albert stop and the lime kilns at La Lauziere overseen by the perched village of La Roquette sur Var, © Yann Duvivier. [6] This 'new' bridge was replaced in the mid-20th Century by the one which is in use today.

Another of the branch tramways left the Nice to Digne line close to La Mescla Station and travelled up the valley of La Tinee.

I first looked at this tramway in 2013. It was only a short blog recognising the existence of the line in the valley.

This line was 26.5 Km long and connected villages in the Tinée valley to Nice to Digne line. Like other lines of the Tramways Alpes Maritimes (TAM), the electric current was single phase. The civil engineering works (bridges, tunnels) were executed by the Department.

The line was built in 1911 and operation started on 1st April 1912. Landslides affected the operation of the line in the early months. The original opening was delayed from January to April because of landslides and on 2nd April a further landslide affected several hundred metres of track and destroyed power lines.

The line ceased operations in 1931.
The available imagery from the time of the tramway is limited in extent and is supplemented by images from later dates.
New territory for me. The now removed TAM tramway from Pont de Gueydan to Guillaumes up Les Gorges de Daluis .....

The line from Le Pont de Gueydan north to Guillaumes followed the valley of the River Var and ran through the Gorges de Daluis.

Marc Andre Dubout, writing in French, says that the line was probably the moist daring of secondary line construction work with very steep gradients, numerous tunnels, two remarkable bridges. He comments that it is the most impressive tramway from a tourist perspective with 'unique viewpoints and singular landscapes'.
One of the bridges on this route has the distinction of being one of the earliest reinforced concrete arch structures in France.
Further decline in the urban tramway network in Nice occurred from the late 1920s into the 1930s. Buses became politically more acceptable than the trams. ... This post continues my reflections based on a translation of the work of Jose Banaudo from French into English. ...

A Changing Urban Network in/around Nice

The 1930s through to the 1950s saw major changes in the urban environment. As elsewhere, the car began to dominate people understanding of progress. Other firms of transport, to a greater or lesser extent, took a secondary place. Independence, rather than interdependence, came to dominate political thinking. Strengthening democracy after the Second World War valued the perspective of the individual. By the end of the 1950s the place if the 'expert' in any debate was beginning to be challenged. No longer were people as willing to be told what was best for them. In a significant way, the car became a touchstone for that growing independence and self-confidence. The tram and the train began to be seen as part of the past rather than an important part of the future. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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