18 kilometres of mixed quality, including road, dirt track and quiet lane. Some tracks used by local farmers are passable in dry weather. The route is flat throughout. The main road, quiet at times, must be used until a missing bridge is installed.


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As the Conseil Départmental slowly works westward from Flayosc, the stretch from Rians to Varages is, as yet, not due to be completed until 2024. But some works are underway.

Provisional signage has been installed, leading cyclists on and off the route of the old railway line on a fairly conservative basis. If the route has been properly surfaced, it is regarded as useable. If not, travellers are led on to the busier D561.

Passable stretches of track

However, much of the railway line route is used by local agricultural traffic, and in certain places is distinctly passable for touring cyclists. This means that there are often alternative routes that you can choose from, depending on your personal preferences as well as the weather. In the video below, we took the railway line route from Rians to some 5 kilometres west of Varages, where the line crosses the main road. But at different stages there are alternatives. Here are the stages, step by step.

Rians – Artigues

The old Rians station sits on the north west edge of the village. From here, signage leads you on to the D3/D561 by-pass. Then, as you travel east out of Rians, the official signed route takes you along a paved section of old railway line, running south of, and parallel to, the D561. You can spot the signage on your right just after the gravelled waste recycling area where the Avenue du 19 Août 1944 joins the D561. The surface eventually becomes a dirt track, but in dry weather you can continue at least until the Route du Grand Hubac, where you can turn left to rejoin the D561, or continue another kilometre until the old line crosses the main road.

The signed route diverts from this course after 1 kilometre, taking you to the right and up a hill on a small road. This eventually leads back down again farther east until it joins the D561 via the D65 at Artigues. In all this route adds an extra kilometre to your journey, and involves significant hills.

Artigues – St Martin-de-Pallières

From Artigues, the old line runs parallel to the D561 for around a kilometre. Like the previous stretch, this can be muddy in winter but on dry days is very passable. Google maps has a series of street views shot in 2021 on this section, so you can judge for yourself. There are a couple of points where you can decide to continue on road, or join the old railway route. But where it departs from the road and heads north east, it is worth using the track, as you can now ride along it all the way to St. Martin station. Along the way you pass the beautifully restored Esparron station.

Saint-Martin-de-Pallières – Varages : 2023 Update

This stretch of the EV8 was the most problematic when we first filmed the route. But it has been improved in 2023. At the station of St. Martin, the official signed route leads you back to the D561. From here until Varages you were on the main road.

But in 2023, surfacing has been carried out all the way to Varages station. Therefore you can now carry straight on east from St. Martin station for 2.5 kilometres. Here you meet the main D561 road. Now you can cross over to the newly surfaced railway line route, which parallels the main road. However, there is still a missing bridge some halfway along. You therefore have to rejoin the D561 after one kilometre (marked Pont ancien de pierre et de bois in google maps). Until this is replaced, you need to use the D561 to Varages.

 However, if you don’t wish to go into Varages village itself, you can avoid the steep climb up to it by turning sharp right at the sign for the Chapelle St. Pothin, just before the steep climb into Varages begins. Follow this surfaced track down and over the Ruisseau de Varages, take the short climb up the other side, and turn left at the track that crosses this road. You are back on the old railway line. 500 metres on and you will arrive at the old Varages railway station on your left, and another 100 metres and you will reach the tunnel that leads you to the Route de Brue Auriac and the direct cycle route to Barjols and Pontevès.