In 1929 French engineer André Michelin, of tyre fame, patented the use of pneumatics on rail vehicles in a bid to improve passenger comfort. Trials were hugely successful and ‘Micheline’ wagons were soon zooming up and down the world’s rail tracks.

Madagascar didn’t escape the craze and got its first Micheline in 1932. By 1953, there were seven in regular service, but lack of maintenance and investment slowly caused the Malagasy railway system to fall into disrepair – Michelines included.

It wasn’t until the revival of the rail system in the early 2000s that plans to restore the pneumatic wagons were hatched. Following restoration by the Michelin Museum in France, one Micheline, which seats 19 passengers in old-world class, resumed service in 2011, chugging its way between Tana and Andasibe (Périnet) or Antsirabe at weekends. But the wagon had been out of action for years at the time of writing, with the authorities unable to say whether it would get back on the rails.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Antananarivo attractions

1. Gare Soarano

Tana’s old train station doesn’t see much passenger traffic these days, so the lovely building has been converted into a small, upmarket shopping centre…

2. Analakely Market

0.43 MILES

Antananarivo's main market is a shadow of the former zoma (market), for which the capital was legendary, but you'd only realise this if you came back in…

3. Musée d'Art et d'Archéologie

0.58 MILES

This small, dusty museum in Isoraka gives an overview of archaeological digs around the island, including displays of grave decorations from the south …

4. Presidential Palace

0.61 MILES

This beautiful 19th-century manor was an official French residence for many years. It became the Malagasy presidential palace in 1975 and remained so…

5. Lac Anosy


Antananarivo’s heart-shaped lake lies in the southern part of town. It's particularly lovely in October, when the jacaranda trees lining its shores are…

6. Monument aux Morts

0.83 MILES

This WWI memorial, erected by the French, is a large golden angel on an island connected to the shore by a causeway. It is currently not advised to walk…

7. Musée de la Photo


Opened in early 2018, this fabulous photography museum is Antananarivo's best museum. There are four small rooms showing films (in French, English or…

8. Musée Andafivaratra

1.43 MILES

Housed in a magnificent pink baroque palace, this museum is the former home of Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony, the power behind the throne of the three…