If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Nice, jump on the Train des Merveilles for a scenic ride through the French Alps to the medieval village of Tende. The village is located within the Mercantour National Park, about a 2 hour train journey from Nice, France.
Taking the scenic Train des Merveilles is a great way to experience the beauty of rural France. The train is comfortable and air-conditioned, a huge plus with summer train travel in Europe!
Get free commentary in English and French daily from June to September. Commentary is available on weekends during May and October as well. We found the tour fascinating and learned a lot about the engineering feat which created the 100km (62 mi) railway in the 1800’s. Cross over 100 bridges and viaducts and countless tunnels as the railway moves from sea level through altitudes up to 1000m (3281 ft) .
The kids also liked checking out the villages, the river and experiencing the dizzying heights of the bridges as we made the journey. Children are expected to be quiet during the rides as to not disturb others, so if you’re traveling with them, you may want to try and find a compartment without other travelers or skip the last three cars and just enjoy the ride.
The Train des Merveilles makes three daily runs from Nice to Tende. You MUST pay careful attention to the timetables. You don’t want to make an unplanned overnight stay in one of the villages because you missed the train! If you forgot to pick up a timetable at the train station, pick one up at the tourism office. It might even be wise to ask them to mark the return times. I found the sheet to be a bit difficult to read.
Taking the 9:23 am train from Nice (arriving in Tende at 11:24am) and returning on the 2:47pm train will give you three good hours for exploration. This is plenty of time to see the village. You could also jump back on the train and stop at another village along the way back to Nice, paying attention to the schedule of that last train departure from Tende!
What to See in Tende:
Tende, a part of Italy from 1861 to 1947, was the last commune to join the French Republic in 1947. The mountainous village is bordered by Italy to the north and is located on what was once an important salt trade route between France and Italy.