Journey on historic trains
Come meander the Aa valley on 15 km of railway and in the heart of the Regional Natural Park of Caps and Marais d'Opale
The next circulations
FESTIVAL | Festival vapeur organisé par le CFTVA
- The 30/09/2023 to 00:00
- The 01/10/2023 to 00:00
The line and its stations
Quay of FontinettesDuring certain circulations we reach this quay. Crossing the canal by the bridge offers travelers a privileged view of the lock.
Fontinettes boat liftThis boat lift was built in 1887, it operated until 1967. Unique in France, it was classified as a historical monument in 2014.
Arques train stationArques station was built at the same time as the line in 1874. Composed of a central body and two pavilions, it serves as a ticket office for visitors and accommodation for the station master. With angle chains and cornices, it is also distinguished by its arched windows and their central key. The goods hall, formerly used for freight, is now used as a warehouse and workshop for the Association du Chemin de Fer Touristique de la Vallée de l'Aa.
Museum and train station of BlendecquesBuilt in 1894, Blendecques station is typical of 19th century railway architecture. Encrusted in earthenware tiles, the name of the town can be seen at the top of the building. Restored by the municipality, the station was fitted out by the Association du Chemin de Fer Touristique de la Vallée de l’Aa to present a collection of railway objects.
Quay of Helfaut CoupoleIt is the only site in France that takes you underground and into space. The only visit to France that tells you the story while projecting you into the future. La Coupole, in Helfaut-Wizernes, is both a memorial site, a museum and a planetarium. I take you on a journey through space and time.
Hallines quayOn the edge of the track, an entrance indicates access to the unfinished network of underground passages which were to serve as design offices for the Germans in 1943-1944. They are open occasionally during visits to the village. It has preserved an important heritage inherited from the Dambricourts, a family of millers and papermakers at the origin of the industrial development of the valley: a neo-Gothic church built by Clovis Normand in 1873, two castles, one of which serves as bedrooms hosts, and three mills that have become residences. Their preserved waterfalls contribute to the charm of the place; that of the Pidoux mill, a paper mill site which once benefited from a private rail connection, also supplies a Sagebien wheel from 1864 which produces green energy.
Halte EsquerdesBeyond the stations and halts, there were stops marked by simple shelters. The Esquerdes stop was therefore established without sedentary personnel. It was rebuilt in fiber cement in the 1920s.
Authentic barrier guard houseThis gatekeeper's house was bought by the gatekeeper (who was also a member of our association), who thus continued to occupy it throughout his retirement.
Quay of SetquesThe Setques quay is the 5th built on this line by the CFTVA. Here, the railway passes at the foot of the limestone hillside, along the Aa, which covers 93km from its source at Bourthes to the North Sea at Gravelines. This geological space is protected by the Regional Natural Park of Caps et Marais d’Opale for its biodiversity.
Metal bridgeIt is the only crossing of the Aa by the railway, it was built using the technique of riveting.
Lumbres StationThe Lumbres cement and paper mill – the 5th in the Aa valley – are still in operation. They benefited from the proximity of the station, at the junction of the Anvin-Calais lines (metric track) and Saint-Omer – Boulogne. We find their old wooden sleepers in the fences of the fields and the riding school of the equestrian farm. The old route has been rehabilitated as a greenway, to the delight of walkers. The station now houses the Tourist Office. The Passage du Bléquin, a tributary of the Aa, must have been very useful to the old Hochart brewery.
History of the line
The Saint-Omer – Boulogne line is 56 km long. It is a double track line up to Arques and single track beyond with a passing track in the stations of Blendecques, Wizernes, and Lumbres until 1916.