Northern France Steam Railway Holiday
New for 2019 is an exciting trip to northern France staying in the iconic capital. Let us show you the classic sights in inimitable Inside Track style. Add to the omelette three steam railways, trams and a floodlit Seine cruise and we have the perfect French dish! We say this holiday is new, but that’s not strictly true, more rejuvenated perhaps. The last time we did it the exchange rate was 10.4 French Francs to the Pound!
A truly original start – this is the only Inside Track holiday that kicks off with a lunchtime Eurostar journey to Calais Frethun – “sacre bleu”! Calais is the closest high speed station to the inimitable Aa Vallee Railway. We’ll journey between Arques and Lumbres passing the spooky La Coupole – an enormous wartime relic. Afterwards, a drive of around an hour or so takes us to Arras for our first continental evening.
Its party time!! And today is almost entirely dedicated to just that, the steam gala at Le Petit Train De La Haute Somme. On our way there we’ll stop at the very special and humbling Thiepval – the largest commonwealth memorial in the world. Then it’s on to Froissy, the headquarters of APPEVA. This rustic, narrow gauge, railway has become one of the region’s top tourist destinations and holds a steam gala every year. Originally a supply line to the trenches it later carried sugar beet and the interesting ride involves both a tunnel and a zigzag switchback. We will spend our afternoon enjoying steam rides, miniature railway, visiting locos, all manner of stalls and their fascinating museum.
More steam this morning, especially arranged, at the little known Vallee de la Scarpe Railway that tracks the canal-side at St Amand les Eaux. Fine views of wildfowl, fishermen, a smoky run-past and gulls circling languidly over the distant landfill site! Later, we return to Arras by rail and explore above and below the streets to discover a fascinating history from aspects you might not expect.
A gem of a day out to the seaside commences by rail via Amiens to Noyelles where we join the famous Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme. This impressive and popular tourist railway runs in a huge horseshoe around the bay amid wetlands teeming with birdlife. Our clever itinerary will ensure we get the best out of the railway and allow for a little time in the delightful sailing town of St. Valery – yachts galore! Our return route to Arras is charmingly rustic and completed in a very relaxed fashion.
Sadly it’s time to head for home. But we want to finish with a truly authentic taste of Northern France. In the marshes of Clairmarais we take a flat bottomed boat trip to get a glimpse into the lives of the market gardeners that make a living from the land here – this really is rustic. Finally we drive into Lille, jump on a Eurostar and say au revoir – très magnifique!