Starting point at Villefranche de Conflent, in the eastern
Pyrenees, 50 km inland from Perpignan.
In the Roussillon part of the Languedoc
from Paris: 900 km by road .
cities: Perpignan, 50 km
railway station: Villefranche-de-Conflent (Vernet les
bains). (Mainline connection).
access from Paris: TGV train to Perpignan, then connecting
local train service.
Little Yellow Train runs from Villefranche de Conflent, 50 km from
Perpignan, to Latour de Carol, near the Spanish town of Puigcerda.
The most spectacular part of the route is the section from the start
at Villefranche, up as far as the small town and ski-resort area of
Odeillo – Font-Romeu. Hugging the sides of the deep valley of
the line winds up between forests, chasms and gushing streams. From the
start up as far Mont Louis, near the summit, passengers are treated to
spectacular views of the rocky mountainous scenery, including villages,
two historic fortresses, and a precariously perched old hermitage.
The line, which was begun in 1903, is a spectacular feat of civil
engineering, and apart from the dozens of mostly short tunnels, it
many bridges and small viaducts, plus two remarkable viaducts spanning
wider valleys. These include the remarkable Pont Gisclard, or Pont de
Cassagne, which is the only railway suspension bridge in France.
After Mont Louis, the line continues to rise for a kilometre or so,
before reaching a broad high valley, which it skirts along for seven
kilometres as far as the station at Font-Romeu– Odeillo.
From here, it then descends some 300 metres down to a high valley on
the Spanish border, and the frontier town of Bourg Madame. The station
at Bourg Madame is just a few hundred metres from the Spanish border,
and it is easy to walk to the old Spanish town of Puigcerda.
The line terminates a few kilometres further on, at the small town of
Latour de Carol, where it connects with the French railway
from Toulouse, and the RENFE Spanish line from Barcelona.
walled city; a UNESCO world heritage site. The entire old city, crammed
into the narrow valley floor, is circled by walls which were
strengthened and fortified by the great military architect Vauban in
the 17th century, after the area passed from Spanish to French
Fort Liberia, another Vauban fortification, perched on the mountainside
above the town.
6 km. Vernet les Bains, an attractive small old town, up a side valley;
starting point for routes and trails to le Canigou, the emblematic
mountain of the Eastern Pyrenees.
► Mont Louis
Another Vauban fortified town and UNESCO world heritage site. Smaller
and less impressive than Villefranche de Conflent
Odeillo – Font-Romeu
is a small Pyrenean mountain village, best known nowadays as the home
of one of the world's very first solar power stations.
Opened in 1970, the solar power station was one of the first
serious renewable energy plants. Run by the French National Research
Centre CNRS, the “Four
Solaire” is within easy walking distance of the station.
The villages of Odeillo and Via can be reached on foot from the station.
is one of the more popular ski resorts in the Pyrenees.
a hiking trail (sentier de randonnée) leaves from the
village of Via,
just below the Odeillo train station; it is an easy 9km hike
to the station at Cabanasse – Mont Louis.
Small and not particularly interesting town; but it is only a kilometre
or so on foot from the station at Bourg Madame to the historic centre
of the Spanish town of Puigcerda
Travellers coming up on a morning train and back on an afternoon train
have time for a quick trip into Spain.
interest to rail buffs; the station at Latour de Carol is the only
station in Europe, possibly in the world, to serve three different
"normal" railway lines operating with three different gauges*.
The metre-gauge Train Jaune, the European standard gauge SNCF
line to Toulouse, and the Spanish broad-gauge line to Barcelona.
The station at Montreux in Switzerland also has three gauges, but these
include special rack-and-pinion tracks).