Martel and his Steam Train
To begin with, if you visit Martel, focus your visit on the steam train programme first. It's a real step back in time that we were lucky enough to enjoy.
The village of Martel is a must-see in the Lot! This village is the starting point of our road trip in the Dordogne Valley before continuing the visit to Carennac and Collonges la Rouge.
The Steam Train of Martel
The railway line is cut into the Mirandol cliff. It used to serve as a link between Bordeaux and Aurillac in the 1889s.
Today it has been taken over by an association since 1991. Indeed, volunteers worked on the repair of the line from 1991 to 1997 before putting it into service.
It operates 8km of line but only a 6.5km section is currently in use. Work is underway to extend the route. For a 11 euros per adult and 7 euros per childIn short, you will be helping the steam train of Martel in haut Quercy to maintain this beautiful course.
Steam Train Itinerary
The train leaves Martel from the old station, you can find it by looking for the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Haut Quercy.
The journey takes about 1 hour. The Martel train route has various stops on the way there and on the way back. A small refreshment stand is set up to quench one's thirst while the locomotive is being pressurised again. We really wanted to do this trip with the steam train. There is also the possibility of doing the route by diesel train, but this reduces the charm of the route.
When does the steam train run?
The steam train runs from April to June on Sundays and public holidays at 11 am / 2.30 pm and 4 pm.
In July until 10 July on Wednesdays and Sundays and until the end of August every day except Saturday.
In September only on Sundays.
Please note that you have to arrive 1 hour before to get a seat, even if you book online the seat is not guaranteed. In the train there are seats but also standing places. Please note that the benches are rather uncomfortable but we move constantly to take pictures.
The best seat in the train for the best view
Friends photographers, this is the main element where to position yourself to take the best views of the course ? When you look at the route, it goes from Martel to St-Denis-Les-Martel, place yourself on the right side when you look at the nose of the locomotive.
Indeed, on the outward journey the locomotive goes in reverse because everything is downhill, on the return journey it pulls and shows all its power on the way up.
Note: you will pass through tunnels, some of which are 400 metres long, the experience is unforgettable with the coal steam rushing in! We got some soot on our faces and clothes, yes obviously going back leaves its mark.
Did you know that? The train from Martel is called the Truffadou because it allowed the transport of the Truffle in the 1890s. To transport it to Paris in less than 15 hours as opposed to 60 hours with the stagecoach in 1840. This guaranteed the best freshness and aroused the jealousy of the "gabariers" who on several occasions ransacked the railway line.
the City of Seven Towers
Martel, is the the City of Seven Towers where one likes to stroll at any time of the year. Lose yourself in each alley, you will feel like in the Middle Ages with its fortified houses that have made a unique architectural heritage.
Martel, a merchant city
It was founded in the 11th century by the Viscounts of Turenne, who we invite you to see our article on Turenne here. Martel was for 500 years the capital of the Quercy region.
Unlike other villages of the time, for example Rocamadour, Martel was not born of a religious foundation but owes its creation to its strategic location. It is situated on a choice North-South axis at the crossroads of the West-East route for the transport of salt and wine from Aquitaine. It was not until the 19th century that the line became successful thanks to the truffle trade.
It quickly became a rich trading town from the 1100s. Later it became an essential stop for pilgrims on their way to Rocamadour.
The belly of Martel: the Place des Consuls
As proof, when you arrive in Martel, you will be surprised by its traditional market under the covered market hall in the centre of the square called the Place des Consuls. Indeed, the market of Martel takes place on Wednesday and Saturday mornings where breeders and sellers of the region stroll. Let yourself be tempted to taste the best local products.
Enjoy the Palace of the Raymondi built between 1280 and 1330 by the tax collector Bernard Raimondi. Its large tower later became a bell tower. The Tournemire square tower is one of the largest in Martel and was used as a prison for the town.
A little further on you will see the high bell tower of the church of Saint-Maur which served as a defence of the town for fear that it would be attacked like the capture of Bergerac in August 1345.
Finally, we advise you to park in the free Martel car park parking monti north of Martel.
Restaurants in Martel :
Nous avons testé le Bistrot des Consuls for local dishes and the Sans-Lys for these large, hearty pizzas.
Like us, Martel will delight you for a stopover during your stay in the Lot.
Founders of Folk-Travel
⛰️ Globetrotters and landscape photographer. We had a passion in common when we met, that of great landscapes. It was enough for us to travel all over the world in search of the most beautiful photogenic spots. We take time for details, authenticity while remaining natural. Back from our road-trips we reveal our best places.
We take time for details and authenticity while remaining natural. Back from our road-trips we reveal our best places.
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