France 1972

In July 1972 I purchased my first Interail ticket with the intention of visiting France, although I also made a long side trip into Switzerland and briefly visited Italy. Once again I could afford only a couple of 120 films so have a rather limited photographic record of what I saw. I'd already planned the holiday before the Interail ticket was introduced, on the basis of having to buy individual tickets, so several of my journeys were quite short - little more than day trips. As a result I didn't really get the full value from this new ticket.

I saw no working steam locomotives in France, although I did see a lot of recently withdrawn 141Rs at depots from passing trains.

The first day's journey was from Bradford Exchange to King's Cross behind 'Deltic' No. 9007 and then an afternoon boat train from Victoria to Folkestone and then on to Amiens form Boulogne behind one of the big Co Co diesels No. 68023 - no fewer than 13 141Rs were lined up at the locomotive depot.

The next day I went on to Paris Nord behind BB16787 and after crossing Paris headed south to Dijon behind CC6503.

After arrival at Dijon with my train from Paris CC6503 is working the Paris Lyon to Belfort, Grenoble and St. Etienne express made up of 20 coaches. It is seen here after arrival at Dijon on Bastille Day, the 14th July 1972. I stayed in the youth hostel and that evening went to a very unruly firework display in a park - fireworks being thrown about meant I beat a hasty retreat back to the hostel.

On 15th July 1972 2D2 9111 is about to work a Dijon to Marseille train on 15th July 1972.

A dual voltage BB25512 is seen at Dijon after arrival with a train from Besançon.

BB9527 has just arrived with a Paris to Dijon train.

A rather poorly exposed photo shows BB8153 heading south through Dijon with a freight.

Dijon station was incredibly busy on the morning of Saturday 15th July 1972. Here is BB9255 at the head of a Dijon to Nice express.

My journey continued on a Paris to Milano express, which I took as far as Brig in Switzerland. The train had 2D2 9130 as far as Dôle where a pair of dual voltage BB25500s took over to Vallorbe. A Swiss Federal Re4/4 No. 11178 took the train on to Domodossola.

At Brig I went outside the main station to see the Furka Oberalp and Brig Visp Zermatt narrow gauge station. In the yard outside the FO depot were (from left to right) motor cars 41 and 42 and BoBo electric 31. The date is Saturday 15th July 1972

A BVZ articulated 'crocodile' Co-Co No. 12 is taking out a train to Zermatt. Looking at the good quality rolling stock in the train's formation I suspect that this is the St.Moritz to Zermatt 'Glacier Express'.

Over in the main part of the station a Bern Lötschberg Simplon 1Co-Co1 electric No. 205 was stabled. at the BLS depot

The day's travelling was not over as I then caught a Brig to Basel express behind BLS No.164 over the Lötschberg line which, at this time, was still partly single track.

After a night spent at Bern youth hostel I returned to France via Genéve and headed south via Lyons to Marseille. From Genéve to Lyons Perrache the train (a Zürich to Lyons express) was pulled by CC7148. The train onwards to Marseille was a Dijon to Nice train behind 2D2 9110 - the previous day's train had been photographed at Dijon behind 9111. The journey was memorable for a door flying open (luckily inwards) as we headed south at high speed along the Rhône valley. I remember seeing a little girl walking down the corridor towards it and called out "Arret!" and kicked the door closed  and shut it....

I spent the night in the youth hostel at Marseille before taking a Paris to Nice overnight train the next morning to Nice behind BB25228. I decided to make a flying visit across the border into Italy at Ventimiglia. It was a case of arriving on one train behind a BB25500 and returning on the next one back (a pair of X4500 two car DMUs). 

The only photo I took at Ventimiglia was a snatched one of E424.078 on a freight train, as I had heard that the Italians didn't like railway photographers. The date was 17th July 1972.

I then headed back to Marseille for another night at the hostel. I recall wondering whether I was making the best use of my Interail ticket and considered changing my plans drastically. However I needed to be in Le Havre on the 21st for an overnight ferry, so reluctantly decided that going to Norway wasn't a good idea!!

Leaving Marseille on the 18th July I spent several hours at an extremely busy Nîmes. If I'd only known that along the coast at Narbonne there was plenty of steam I'd probably have altered my plans. As it was, I travelled north to Clermont Ferrand on a DMU working with one of the X4200 'Panormaique' DMUs, although I had to travel in an X2800 as I hadn't got a supplementary ticket.

During the time I was at Nîmes  BB67043 arrived with an express from Paris that had come over the Massif Centrale route from Clermont Ferrand. The date is on 18th July.

This day's journey ended at Clermont Ferrand where I stayed in the youth hostel again.

A 'Picasso' DMU No. X4046  seen at  St Germain des Fosses after arrival from Vichy on 19th July 1972.

Y6302 was in use on an engineering train during rebuilding work at St Germain des Fosses.

BB67018 brings a heavy southbound freight into St Germain des Fosses.

Another southbound freight at st Germain des Fosses has 72044 at its head.

A small Bo Bo No. 71007 has arrived light engine at St Germain having already been seen at nearby Vichy. 

I now headed off to Tours where I stayed at the youth hostel for two nights . The hostel was not far from the main line to Bordeaux so I spent several hours watching traffic on this busy line. On the 20th July I went to Le Mans and back. I was clearly not making good use of my ticket! For some reason I didn't take any photos that day at all.

My final day in France was the 21st July when I made my way from Tours to Paris Austerlitz, first by X4300 DMU to Les Aubrais and then behind CC7119 on a Limoges to Paris train. In Paris I paid a quick visit to Gare de L'Est

BB66158 was on station pilot duties at Gare de L'Est with a train of old Paris suburban coaches.

BB16604 was at Gare de L'Est with a push pull train of modern 'Inox' corrugated side coaches.

Over at Gare St. Lazare a rake of X6300 'Inox' EMUs is arriving.

An unidentified BB17000 arrives at St. Lazare on a suburban push-pull train.

My final journey was to Le Havre on a Friday relief train behind BB17015.