150 years from now to the birth of the cycle track

Between 1840 and 1860, the great coal furrow crossing through the “massif central” from Moulins-Sur-Alliers to Villefranche-de-Rouergue in Aveyron, is experiencing a huge rise and the mines in Vendes and Champagnac are working at full throttle.


There is a urge to find the way to convey the precious ore across the country, moreover that local businesses is also suffering from landlocking. It takes three days to reach Bordeaux for a grocer riding a horse, carrying the marchandise on muleback. Cantal is wealthy and must be able to sell these wealthes : except coal, the department is producing wood, fodder, cattle, hemp, copper and cheese of course.


The building of the line is operated, linking Eygurandes to Aurillac on purpose, via Bort Les Orgues and Mauriac. The works unfold very fast and are spectacular. Digging, building viaducts and raising walls will form the pattern of lives in the end of this XIX century. The first part of the line came to an end in late 1882, linking Eygurande and Largnac : “La Ligne du Charbon” (The Coal Line) will be its name. The Railway Bort les Orgues – Aurillac (lenghening the Clermont-ferrand – Tulle line) will only see the light to serve the mines of Vendes. In december 1891 opens the Mauriac-Miécaze line, but the hardest work to provide will be for the shortest part of the line : a bit more than 20 km to join Largnac to Mauriac. The winding route will give people a hard time but will be worth it . The last stretch is finally over in 1893.


A coal train in Cantal


In the 50’s and 60’s, coal made way for another kind of energy. It’s time to witness the hydroelectric layout of the Dordogne river. Once the dam of Bort-Les-orgues built, one of the railways irrigating Cantal will be underwater, that way, Bort-les-Orgues was nothing more than a dead end town. Still, the Bort – Aurillac linking avoided the drowning and survived but couldn’t permit any excange to the outside, leading to its attendance to fall down. That way, in 1994, the rail network SNCF gave up the exploitation of the stretch.


Setting up the cycle track


Since there was no more trafic, the railway is abandonned without any maintenance and at the end of the day, the vegetation got the upper hand erasing forever the memory of a past time.

Without being a matter of competition with the hundreds of people who strove for this railway to see the light of day, this is a whole territory that will gather around this lost heritage (abandonned equipment, moins littéraire) and give it a new breath of life, centering on the “re-valuation of the old railroad”.


That’s why in the early 2000’ the local council community of Sumène Artense consider the creation of a cycling track, which name “La piste Verte” will be given to. In 2002, the first stretch of the road is uncapped of iron and tarmacced for 4 km, between Ydes and Lagnac railway stations.


Will follow four other stretches :

  • 2004 : Second stretch to link Ydes and Saignes stations
  • Late 2006 to early 2007: Third stretch from Saigne’s station to the 3rd secondary road (D3).
  • 2008 : Foutth stretch from D3 and Cheyssac (municipality of Vebret)
  • 2012 and 2014 : Completion of La Piste Verte by its last stretch : Largnac – Parensol


On the year 2014, after ten years under works, the completed Piste Verte is up to 15km!


The green trail and its 5 stretches


For the soul of the railroad to live on, chicanes have been installed all along the track, on each crossroads. Their rusty-looking appearance strengthens the rustic side of the track. The rails and sleepers incorporated in the coating, remind as well the old railroad.


The history of the cycle trail


The former station of Ydes – Champagnac -, renovated in the 2000’s, hides a rental centre for electric or not bicycles, micro-scooters and rollerblades.


Former train station of Ydes-Champagnac


The history of La Piste Verte links the territory of Sumène Artense from one end to the other.