Chemin de vapeur de Martel

Ok – that’s French for steam train of Martel. We have been toying with the idea of going on this train – it is a 1.5 hour ride on an unused train track that looks down onto the Dordogne river basin.

The weather has turned. The thermometer is no longer flirting with the 100 degree mark. It has headed south considerably and is now hovering around the 65 mark. Wierd. But I’ll take it. I need a break from the oppressive heat.

It’s threatening rain and we find out that the train is an open air affair – there is a roof over top, but the sides are open. By the time we board the train we are thinking that there will be no seats left. In the last car we find two benches facing one another and happily sit down. We are at the front end of the last car. Then it starts to rain. We realize that these seats aren’t that great after all, especially for Chris and I who are at the front. The rain is coming into the car. It’s now past departure time and they are for some reason still letting people board the train.

We leave, the rain abates and all is well. The views are quite pretty – we travel through various tunnels, which the kids love. It’s like being on the Hallowe’en train in Stanley Park only bigger. We get to the end of the run, stop and have a photo op of the valley and then reverse to head back the way we came.

We have been a little suspicious of the “steam” and think it might be “diesel vapeur” instead. We soon find out when we head into the first tunnel. I can’t believe they actually allow this. The longest tunnel is 400m. The train engine is spewing disgusting thick greasy smoke. Hard to hold your breath for that long.

Lucy is laying on the bench with her head covered under layers of clothing. Cooper and I also bury our faces and challenge ourselves to make it through the tunnel as the train slowly lumbers along. Chris looks like he’s meditating and inhaling deeply.

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