The Train de l’Ardèche (also aka Le Mastrou) is a remnant of a larger system opened in 1891 and closed in 1968. The following year it reopened as a heritage line, and funding became the primary issue. The operators managed to keep it open until 2008.
It reopened in 2013, and from what we saw, it now seems to be pretty well funded. It was always a small operation never exceeding a network of meter gauge track of ~200 kilometers, and today it is only 33. The small gauge — it looks pretty tippy — allows for the tighter turns the sinuous gorge required.
The gallery gives a sense of the operation. It’s out and back, with a turntable that one person can spin with the locomotive on it. At the turntable, there’s a market stand. It was a beautiful day, and the wind was perfect for blowing the smoke and steam away from us. Still, we think we might have enjoyed the Rhone more.