Today, French nationals of non-European origin receive second-class treatment from the Town Hall, controlled since May 1995 by the Front National. Its victory – the most significant electoral gain for the extreme-right party to date – shocked the whole of France.
Toulon has never been a particularly pleasant city, and it isn't improving under its new masters. The museums are dull, motorway traffic crawls through the centre, it has all the paranoia of a big city with few of the charms, and is claustrophobic and ugly – in short, a place to avoid.
A bus will bring you from the pier to the train station in Tournon. The Vivarais railway was constructed between 1886 and 1891 to connect the Ardeche with the Haute Loire. After the connection was shut down in 1968, enthusiasts of old steam trains took over the operation again in 1969. On board a train from the past century, pulled by a steam engine or a railcar, you will experience the breathtaking view of the landscape of the Ardeche region. You will travel past orchards and vineyards on the steep slopes of the Doux. At Douce-Plage, you will cross the Doux on a splendid stone bridge constructed in 1583. With its 51 meter arches it was the largest in the world at that time. The train will continue to climb along the deep gorges and steep rocks. Finally, you will reach Colombier-les-Vieux where the train takes on 3,000 liters of water. The weight of the water assists the train in pulling the remaining cars over the steep hill. You will take this time to enjoy a short break with a glass of 'Kir' (white wine with a splash of crÃ ¨me de cassis) and some typical French snacks which will be served before you continue on your journey to Boucieu le Roi. Here, you will leave the train and join the bus for your return to Tournon. Note: The steam engine only operates between mid May and mid September. After the main season, a more modern engine will pull the train. The train is equipped with simple wooden benches. The ship's staff is accompanying the excursion, local guides are not available.