If you're visiting in either Anduze or St-Jean-du-Gard and don't have the time (or the inclination) to take a train trip, you should still to along to the station to have a look, especially around the time a train is departing or arriving.
Anduze station (gare d'Anduze) is the most picturesque of the two. The train emerges from a tunnel just at the entrance to the station, and there are some high-up places you can stand for a great view. The route from town out to the railway station passes through the pretty Cordeliers Park — good motivation for taking a walk.
St-Jean-du-Gard station, located across the river just south of the town center, is the "home" of the trains, where locomotives and the colorful railway cars are stored when not in use. A wide expanse with many parallel sidings is great for taking pictures of the trains.
The Bambouseraie is a bambou-themed botanical garden located two kilometers north of Anduze. This isn't a station where start the journey, but a stop where you can get off to visit the gardens, and get back on another train to continue the trip. The Bambouseraie station is very picturesque, sitting high above the gardens, yet still shrouded by tall trees and bambou.
Watching the steam train go by
The route by road between Anduze and St-Jean-du-Gard is about 14 km, along the D907, and there are a couple of good places along the route where you can stop and watch the steam train pass by.
Exactly half way between the two towns, the D907 crosses the river and there's a roundabout on the south side. [44.073218, 3.935508] Instead of taking the D907 NW towards St-Jean-du-Gard or SE towards Anduze, follow the D57 road that curves west and south from the roundabout. You can park anywhere around there, because it's only 100 m around the bend where a long railway viaduct crosses the road. You can watch from the roadside, or climb up an embankment (like we did) to watch the steam train come out of the tunnel to cross the viaduct.
Just 1 km from the D907 roundabout, southeast towards Anduze, there's another, smaller, viaduct crossing the road, just before the train goes across the river. There's handy parking here, and great shop that sells local products.
Schedules of the Cevennes Steam Train allow an easy round-trip voyage, even with a very long stop at either end, Saint Jean-du-Gard or Anduze.
There are special event trains every year.
• A Wine Harvest themed train runs in September.
• Every October there's a Chestnut day train and, of course, a Halloween Weekend train.
• For the eve of Bastille Day, a Fireworks night train runs on 13 July.
• Cevennes Steam Website — Train schedules are based on high and low seasons, but this doesn't affect the cost.
Ticket costs, 2019:
• Round trip, adult: 16.50 euro
• Round trip, child (age 4-12): 11.50 euro
• One way, adult: 12.50 euro
• One way, child (age 4-12): 9.50 euro
• Family, 2 adults, 2 kids: 50.00 euro
• Family, 2 adults, 3 kids: 55.00 euro
The Bambouseraie is much more than a garden. Called a Jardin botanique, or Parc exotique, it's also more than that. Here you'll find walkways through towering bamboo jungles filtering the sunlight to a cool yellow-green tint.
Some of the bamboo is amazingly high, but there are also sequoias (coast redwoods) towering even higher, along the main walkway. Part of the park includes a Laotien village, with characteristic bamboo houses on stilts, and even some fat old Laotien pigs.
The Cevennes steam railway has a stop at the Bambouseraie, with the tracks crossing over the top of the park on an old stone viaduct, mostly hidden by the tall bamboo.
A walking tour of the park is supposed to take 1h30, but we took considerbly longer. There's also a bamboo forest, a plant maze and Victorian greenhouses. A large stone villa in the center of the park has plaques on the wall marking the heights of the floods of 1958 and 2002; the earlier mark is about 3 m up the wall.
Nursery. A large sales area near the exit has an extensive range of plants for sale, not all of them bamboo. This area is accessable without the entrance payment.
- Location: Bamousseraie de Prafrance, 30140 Générargues. 3 km from Anduze: cross the river (east), turn left on the D129.
- Open: (every day) 1-20 March 9h30-18h; 21 Mar - 30 Sept 9h30-19h, 1 Oct - 1 Nov 9h30-18h; 2 - 15 Nov 9h30-17h.
- Closed: 16 Nov - 28 Feb
- Entry: (2012) Adults €8.60; under 12 €5.10
- Tel: 0466 617 047; Fax: 0466 619 494
- Email: email@example.com
- Web: www.bambouseraie.fr