Railway archeology

Today I’ll propose you an other way to travel and discover landscapes.
When I was young I lived in the south of Paris’suburb in a city where we could see a nice viaduct and where a road had some smooth turns and strange proportions.

Few years ago I searched on the Net more information about it. And I discover that there was an old railway between Paris and the city of Chartres. It had been abandoned and the former infrastructure got new use.

With a good friend of mine we decided to point every remaining infrastructure and went by the former route of this railway line “Paris – Chartres par Gallardon”.
All the day long, by car, we went to all the points we saw on satellite views that raised our attention.
That was a really good day, exploring, discovering, trying to understand the path. A small adventure, very nice and original.

Trust me you’ll get nice moment, magic, with good adrenaline and meanwhile you’ll discover landscapes and heritage you would completely pass if you’ve only followed a touristic guide book.
Let’s go for a clue hunt.

History of the line Paris-Chartres by Gallardon

Without any level-crossing.
Nevertheless I’ll use the term of “level-crossing keeper house” because it’s a very specific architecture.

First steps

The first step consists in searching the former route watching a satellite vew. It’s quite easy by searching tree lanes across the fields. Theses lanes got smooth turns.
The good idea of this former railway is that it got a maintenance house every few kilometer. So if you see a house close to a tree lane, it can be a good indication that you’re on the right way.
At home prepare all the points you want to go to explore.

I’ve made a special dedicated Google MyMap there  



For sure you will need a car. If you are tourists, you can rent one for one day. If you have or came by your own car take care of its size. Maybe you’ll have to pass under some bridges.

The whole exploration takes a day. So bring with you food, drinks and snacks. You’ll be in small villages and may not find shops.

Be sure you’ve downloaded maps and GPS, you’ll be in the country and mobile networks can be weak or inaccessible.

Do not forget your camera and to point out each building you take with it’s location in order to remember all your path once at home.


Let’s go

I’ve pointed out some nice tips on this map :

Here, in a few days, you’ll find an article with pictures we took and more information about this line.

The interesting part starts in Villebon-sur Yvette. From Paris take the A10 and then the D188 road. Here the road takes the place of the former railway. You’ll see on the right a former station with a steam locomotive, then special designed bridges. Arriving at Les Ulis city, the road quits the path.

Le viaduc des fauvettes and Gometz-le-Chatel

The most amazing construction is “le viaduc des fauvettes”, a nice viaduct in the prolongation of the road you’ve taken. To get there, take the “Chemin de la justice” in the city of Gometz-le-Chatel.


On the same city, close to the 133 street of Saint-Jean-de-Beauregard, you’ll pass on a former bridge over … nothing, most of the part of the railway infrastructure has been filled up.

And a few meters far from this former bridge you’ll meet the first level-crossing keeper house, on the 1 of Grivery’s road. This is a very typical architecture of such houses in France.

1 Route de Grivery

1 Route de Grivery

Close to this house, the roundabout on D35 road shows a strange an stand alone rail…


The aerotrain test zone

Here starts the part where the former railway line had been converted into a test base center for a special train, the aerotrain. This monorail train was an air cushion train prototype designed by the engineer Jean Bertin who used part of the former railway to test his invention.

Then the roundabout shows a part of the monorail located exactly on the path of the railway.

But if you go further you’ll discover very nice abandoned places with original parts of this monorail.

First you will need to go there : 48.668347, 2.118564 to see a statue dedicated to the engineer.

Then I advice you to take the D988 road : the former test lane is parallel to it. Turning on the left on the “Chemin Vicinal 2” and you’ll find a former bridge. Below it you can see the former monorail.


Former monorail for the aerotrain’s tests.




In the city of Limours ends the test zone with a turning zone for the train. Close to it, farer on the way of the railway, there is the Viaduc de la Predecelle.

You can park on the “rue du Viaduc” street.
On the Rambouillet’s street you’ll find, after the supermarket the former station “gare de Limours” with a very typical architecture. This is not the station of this railway, but do not forget to stop and admire it.


Gare de Limours


Gare de Limours

Going through the landscape

The next nice spotting point is in the city of Pecqueuse, on chemin Malassis street (48.630758, 2.042130) where you’ll find a nice and typical bridge.



Then take the direction of Bonelles where you’ll find a nice old bridge on Bullion’s street. Then traces disappear until the intersection with D988 that takes the way of the former path.
I really entice you to go at the end of the “Chemin de l’ancienne gare” in Rochefort’s city. This former station gets a special architecture.

Former Rochefort station

Former Rochefort station

Un little bit farer, at the intersection between D988 and D27 you’ll find an other lever-crossing keeper house.

Then, in Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines, you’ll find a talus, along the street “rue des Paradis”. Farer in the street you’ll find a larger part, it surely was the station infrastructures. It gives the sensation of a strange, flat and desert place in the middle of the town.

Going to Gallardon

Then the lane is starting its crossing of plain landscape. Here (48.546369, 1.892331) you can find an other level-crossing keeper house. Here (48.540893, 1.883310) also.
You’ll find an impressive viaduct there (48.518143, 1.747468)
And thus you’ll arrive in Pont Sur Gallardon at the station (48.517611, 1.685302)







The most exciting thing is that few kilometers of the rest of the railway had been preserved. And you can go there by RailBike ! Please visit this website  (in French)

Then, if you have time, why not booking an hotel in Chartres and visiting this wonderful city ?




Other former railways

Please dezoom to see all the lines I pointed in France

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