The picturesque town of Martel is about 45 minutes drive away in the Lot department. It’s an extremely pretty town and has much to offer within it’s compact cobbled centre – restaurants, some pretty bars, shops and boutiques.
One of it’s main attractions however is the ‘Truffadou’ – or the Haut-Quercy Tourist Train!
The station is a short walk from the centre of Martel and tickets are purchased in it’s new “hall voyageurs” where you can also purchase refreshments (however not beer or wine!).
During the years between the two wars the line was used to transport truffles coming from Martel’s market, one of the most important in France. The name of “Truffadou” derives from this time.
The vintage steam train takes you on a there-and-back journey of just under 20km total, stopping at the cliffside viewpoint of Briance, overlooking the Dordogne from between two hill tunnels! There is a small shop organised by the railway at this stop, selling refreshments and small gifts. (However not beer or wine!) It was an extremely hot day when we visited so were glad of a cool drink. On the return journey, the steam and smoke was quite stifling travelling through the tunnels.
Although interesting, we felt the trip was one for those who have a real interest in railways and steam travel in particular, however the views over the Dordogne at Briance were breathtaking.
On returning to Martel, we continued to cool down with a couple of ‘pressions’ at a lovely bar with a terrace on the corner of a pretty cobbled street. Even if you don’t take a trip on the train the town of Martel is a fabulous place to enjoy a few hours walking around and maybe a leisurely lunch.
More information on the “Truffadou” can be found on the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Haut Quercy website.