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rogerfarnworth

Tramways in and around Nice - Modern and Historic

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Nice and the Cote d'Azur had an extensive network of urban and rural tramways all of which have disappeared. There has been a renaissance in attitudes to the trams in recent years and I thought it might be good to provide some details of the new trams in Nice before hopefully providing some of the stories of the older tram networks. I have posted about these historic tramways elsewhere on this forum but thought that they might be of interest to those searching on this sub-forum.

First two links to information about the new trams in Nice ........

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/a-first-tramway-for-nice-since-1953-and-the-closure-of-the-cote-dazurs-vast-tram-network

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/2342

 

And one post from the past - this post collates a number of old postcard images of the historic tramways when they were in action across the Cote d'Azur.

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/various-railway-and-tramway-postcards-from-around-nice-2-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-16

Edited by rogerfarnworth

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My wife and I spend two weeks each year in November in Nice or nearby. When we were travelling between Sospel and Menton a few years back we notice two viaducts which were no longer in use. The most dramatic of the pair was the Viaduc du Caramel which was a curved structure extending out from the hillside. Investigating this route drew my attention to the number of tramways in and around Nice and the local practice of creating tramways which reach back into the hinterland behind the coast.

 

Since then, 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 of secondary lines. 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 on their own formation.
 
The one which first drew our attention was the tramway between Sospel to Menton which was operated by the TNL. This is the story of that line:
 
Edited by rogerfarnworth

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There were two different tram networks in the Nice area. The TAM network (Tramways of the Alpes-Maritimes) is part of the Railway of the South of France. The other network was the Tramway Company of Nice and Littoral (NL). This post covers the history of the entire TNL network. The other posts will cover specific lines on the TAM and TNL networks.

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/the-network-of-the-tramways-of-nice-and-the-littoral-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-53.

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I have posted about these trams elsewhere on RMWeb but not on this Sub-forum. I hope this thread is of interest to some people on this sub-forum.

 

The tram from Vence to Cagnes-sur-Mer was part of the TAM network. I have already posted on this tram elsewhere, but I have included it on this thread for completeness.

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/tramway-between-vence-and-cagne-sur-mer-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-17

Edited by rogerfarnworth

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

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/the-tramway-between-grasse-and-cagnes-sur-mer-part-1-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-20

The second half of my blog on the TAM tramway between Grasse and Cagnes-sur-Mer:

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/the-tramway-between-grasse-and-cagnes-sur-mer-part-2-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-21

Edited by rogerfarnworth

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I have already posted thus elsewhere, but for the sake of completeness, this post was written when thinking about the coastal line leaving Toulon for Saint-Raphael.

 

It relevance here is that it focusses on the tramway system in Toulon. A further post about Toulon will be required at some stage to complete the story of the whole network.

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/12/23/ligne-du-littoral-toulon-to-st-raphael-part-3-trams-in-toulon-and-hyeres-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-38

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Here are links to other railways/tramways that relate to Grasse.

 

The first and last relate to the metre-gauge line which passed through the town on its journey from Nice to Meyrargues. The middle two cover the PLM/SNCF line to which you refer and the funicular. I hope you enjoy them.

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/ligne-de-central-var-part-4-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-19

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/the-grasse-to-cannes-standard-gauge-line-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-24

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/funicular-railway-in-grasse-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-23

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/ligne-de-central-var-part-5-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-25

 

Best wishes

 

Roger

 

I have realised that I have not posted about the other tramway which ran from Grasse to Cannes. It was not run by either the TAM or the TNL. Here is its story:

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/tramway-between-grasse-and-cannes-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-22

Edited by rogerfarnworth

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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.

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-nice-to-levens-tramway-part-1-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-54

 

Just two weeks back I finished a blog on the TNL tramway line from Tourette-Levens to Levens. As part of the blog, 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 current route along the M19.

 

I hope you like it!

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/03/27/the-nice-to-levens-tramway-part-2-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-56

Edited by rogerfarnworth

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Thank you, Roger. Most intetesting and enjoyable reading. Tbe whole question of putting trams underground fascinates me. Yes, it might make for less disruption to road traffic than street running, but out of sight can mean out of mind, and could create a subterranean mugger's paradise. Mind you, someone tried to steal from my wife's handbag in Lisbon whist we were queueing to board a tram, and that was above ground.

Edited by GoingUnderground

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As part of my birthday present this year my wife has given me two books written in French about the Trams of Nice. I am enjoying working out what the books say! This post relates to the relatively unusual practice of regular transport of goods on a tram network, which was common practice in Nice.

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/goods-services-on-the-network-of-the-tramways-of-nice-and-the-littoral-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-60

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relatively unusual practice of regular transport of goods on a tram network, which was common practice in Nice.

 

Maybe that is something that shoud be re-introduced and tried out on some of our new tram/metro services, possibly to delier to businesses in centre of cities(overnight?). Far cleaner than continuing with dirty diesel lorries.

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Reading a book in French by Jose Banuado, I have discovered more about the Sospel to Menton tramway.

 

The Menton-Sospel line is the only one in the TNL network to have seen steam locomotives.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/the-menton-to-sospel-tramway-revisited-again-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-61

 

This post builds on previous ones, particularly ...

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/the-sospel-to-menton-tramway-revisited-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-51

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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

 

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/the-network-of-the-tramways-of-nice-and-the-littoral-tnl-at-its-height-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-62

 

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.

 

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Currently I am reading a book written in French about the tramways of Nice and the Cote d'Azur written by Jose Banuado. Sadly the book is only available in French. I have to use an internet based translation package to understand the book as my French is very limited.

 

This post is based on Jose Banuado's book and covers the period of the First World War.

 

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/08/28/tnl-tramways-during-the-first-world-war-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-80

Edited by rogerfarnworth

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It was not long before the tramways around Nice began an inexorable decline. The early 1930s saw the loss of many of the tram routes outside the city of Nice. Buses were the new thing as far as public transport was concerned. The car became gradually more important.

 

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/04/09/the-tnl-tram-network-the-beginning-of-the-decline-1927-1934-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-84

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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. ...

 

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/10/14/the-tnl-tram-network-the-changes-in-the-urban-network-1929-1934-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-86

 

Quote

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.
 

 

Edited by rogerfarnworth

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On 14/04/2018 at 12:45, GoingUnderground said:

Thank you, Roger. Most intetesting and enjoyable reading. Tbe whole question of putting trams underground fascinates me. Yes, it might make for less disruption to road traffic than street running, but out of sight can mean out of mind, and could create a subterranean mugger's paradise. Mind you, someone tried to steal from my wife's handbag in Lisbon whist we were queueing to board a tram, and that was above ground.

 

The San Francisco  Muni Metro runs underground the whole length of Market Street.

 

Tim

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7 hours ago, rogerfarnworth said:

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. ...

 

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/10/14/the-tnl-tram-network-the-changes-in-the-urban-network-1929-1934-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-86

 

 

 

Perhaps a little misleading Roger,

In the 30s there was a thorough review of public transport with a view to removing inefficiencies.  This can also be viewed as setting up monopolies in transport provision so I will not go in depth into the politics.  

 

Buses generally won out due to their flexibility. But it is interesting to not that many of the major secondary rail companies also invested in buses and I think I am correct in saying that in some areas that still exists.  Certainly the  bus service in the Northern Vercors was still operated by the CFD a few years ago - originally Chemin de Fer Dauphinees.  

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Hi Andy

 

Thank you for the comments. I have tried to be faithful to what Jose Banaudo wrote in French in his book. The overall theme in his book appears to be that of a political alignment at the time in favour of buses and cars. There is a sense of the flexibility of these forms of transport but also a sense that traffic movement in Nice became much more difficult, perhaps inevitably.

 

My French may not be strong enough and I may have misunderstood.

 

Best wishes

 

Roger

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Roger, thanks for your guides.

 

M'lady & I have just spent a few days in the sun, travelling around the Cote D'Azur by train and bus between Cannes and Monaco. Especially the new tram route #2 in Nice, between the airport and Jean Medecin in the centre of town.  As the route #2 trams are painted red, and the last kilometre of the route to Jean Medecin is underground, with escalators to the surface, the whole experience was quite "London Tube"-like. But cleaner and cheaper. ;)  The 10-trip bus and tram pass is just €10.

 

They are just about to open an underground extension of that route via Place Grimaldi to Port Lympia (the main port) . Due to open sometime this December, but we saw what looked like a test train already in Port Lympia.

 

Slightly off-topic, but we had a fun "I Spy" game, finding loads of locations that have appeared in famous and classic films based on the area, like To Catch A Thief, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Ronin.

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