Starting point at Villefranche de Conflent, in the eastern
Pyrenees, 50 km inland from Perpignan.
In the Roussillon part of the Languedoc
900 km by road .
Perpignan, 50 km
: 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, high in the Pyrenees 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).
► Tickets and booking:
Though a historic scenic railway, The Little Yellow Train,is part of
the French state rail network, run by the French train operator SNCF.
the best day-return excursion is to buy a return ticket from Ria
from Ria or Villefranche-Vernet-les-Bains to Latour
de Carol for the whole route
Why Ria ?
Check out the important
just below before
clicking through to the Trainline website
To book tickets
for the Yellow Train or any other French or Spanish train trip, go to ►
Due to a glitch on the SNCF website, it is not possible to buy tickets
between two stations on the Yellow Train route online... not even on the SNCF website
To get round
one of the stations (either the departure or
destination) needs to be off
the Yellow train route. If you plan to travel up the line from
Villefranche, the obvious solution is Ria
(which is the next stop down the line from Villefranche in the
direction of Perpignan). It will cost about a Euro more, but
way you can buy your tickets online with no problem.
Ria to Font-Romeu via Villefranche-Vernet-les-bains (where you have to
change anyway) costs € 13.60 (August 2018) , just a few centimes more
than the ticket from Villefranche to Font Romeu.
You can then forget about Ria, and go straight to the
station at Villefranche to start your journey..
Note that there are
no reserved seats
on the Yellow Train. Your ticket is valid on the date for which you
purchased it. YOu are advised to get to the departure station half an
hour before the train leaves, to ensure a good seat.
EU is a one-stop online portal for train and bus ticketing throughout
Europe, offering all the discounts (rail cards, youth rates, seniors)
and no surcharge.
As the Yellow Train route is part of
the SNCF network, you can book tickets from any French station (such as
Perpignan or Foix or even Paris) to any station on the Yellow Train
route, notably Villefranche Vernet-les-Bains, Font-Romeu, Bourg-Madame
Book online with Trainline.com . All
normal discounts allowed.
.. As the line is part of the SNCF network, it is also possible to book
through ticket from, for example, Perpignan or Toulouse.
The most popular trips are to start from Villefranche-Vernet
and travel to one of the highest stations at Mont Louis
, a bit further to Bourg Madame
or through to the end of the line
Both ends of the line can be reached by
normal-gauge train, the lower end by electric train from Perpignan, the
higher end both by Spanish Railways (RENFE) line from Barcelona and
Ripoll, and by SNCF trains from Toulouse and Foix.
summer and at weekends, it is strongly advisable to book in advance, as
the trains can easily be full. At other times, booking may not be
essential, but remains advisable since all it needs is a couple of tour
buses, and all the available places in any given train can easily sell
out. The best time to go is in Sping or in September or
many trains travel half empty, specially on weekdays.
Pont Gisclard - rail
: all text
and photos on this website
© About-France.com 2011-2020 except where otherwise
except view of
Villefranche de Conflent: GNU licenced photo by Balakao