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Sorry about the delay...my ISP was "under attack" so I couldn't upload the pictures...(5/24/03)

Le Train des Pignes...day one... or day two

So called because pine cones used to be used as fuel, this provincial train travels northwest from Nice to Digne-les-Bains (les Bains means it has springs or thermal baths). If you didn't get off, it would take about three hours one way, but there are a dozen or so scheduled stops at these quaint little towns where you can hike, kayak or just walk around. The train followings the Var river (Nice's western boundary) through a series on canyons and gorges for about half the trip. Round trip was 35 Euros. The views were spectacular.

Anyway, the plan was to ride to Digne, stay overnight and ride back the next day, but jumping off both ways and taking some trails between towns... didn't exactly happen as planned.

Train info and schedule.

Click on the pictures for a larger version.

Heading up the west side of Nice. There were several of these hydroelectric stations (foreground)... a couple of which looked like they had been wiped out. Note the hilltop towns.
The Var in the gorge...
Various pics on the way out... most were shot through the glass of the train window, so apologies for reflections, spots etc. It's harder than it looks! ...and as usual the vistas were always wider than the camera lens.
Ok, this is Entrevaux. I stop here on the way back, but it's just too cool not to have a few pics now...
Annot (Prophetically pronounced Ah-No)
Here we see the train pulling away from the station. The plan was to get off here and hike about 2hrs to Meailles which was two towns up the tracks...
So the trail I want starts straight back from the church, as it is supposed to. At this point it is clearly marked, and just about straight up.
How many faces can you see in the tree?
Near the top the map shows a group of trails converging... I basically go "left" with a group that will start bringing me down to Meailles. See the sign on the right pointing the way... it is the last sign I will see for my trail...
To make a long story, and a couple hours short... I never found my trail again... I saw sign for the smaller trails split, but never the trail head for mine. My other option was to look for a split in the road, which never came... so... I wound up walked this blinding white/chalky road for a couple hours back at river level and only a couple kilometers outside of Annot. I also missed the train I wanted.
Yeah, yeah, choo-choo train, I get it...Mongo like candy.
The walk back to Annot...
So here I am, back at the station, sunburned (again!) and with busted feet, but ready for the next train.
St Andres les Alpes , didn't stop here, but it seemed like a big tourist spot as the train got a group from here coming back. You can get more info on each of these towns at ProvenceBeyond.com
Dignes-les-Bains (those look just like the Alps!?)
I lucked out in that the train I wound up on arrived just before sunset. I wasn't looking forward to finding a hotel and food after dark. It really isn't tourist season yet (tho' I just missed the Hip-Hop Festival) so I figured everyone would be closing up early.
I found a nice two star place (I think two stars is where I feel comfortable) called Hotel De Provence... I don't know why I didn't take any pictures. The only food places still open were all pizza, but a very, very good 3 fromage if I do say so myself...
On to day two...