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Travel Information

We aim to make all of our holidays easily accessible. Most means of transport will offer greater reductions the further in advance you book. The information below is intended as a guide only and may change without warning or our knowledge.

Ferry

If travelling from the UK, by far the easiest way to arrive on many of our trips is by ferry from the south coast of England with very reasonable tariffs for foot passengers with a bicycle (from roughly £50 return). Portsmouth is readily accessible by train from London and also has a long stay car park at the ferry terminal (or you may prefer to find a side street to park nearby) with good access from the M27, M3 and A34.

The most convenient ferries are operated by Brittany Ferries and their ships all have excellent restaurants with fantastic buffets at dinner and breakfast time and afterwards the bars and entertainment mean your holiday starts before you arrive in France. There is the great advantage that you do not have to take your bike apart and can ride on whilst the motorists are still queuing to get on. You will also be amongst the first off the boat. On booking we will give you a discount code which will secure a 10% reduction on the cost of the ferry (fare only - not cabins).

Train

We are great fans of train travel as it prevents you having to turn up at a busy airport at 5am having spent the previous day making sure your bike is safely packed, pay as much for your airport parking as you do for your entire train ticket, and struggle through endless customs and security controls only to find your bike has ended up in Malaga. With the train you can sit back and enjoy the view and with a bit of planning the journey can be very straightforward.

If you are travelling by train we recommend the French railways website www.voyages.sncf.fr  We are happy to advise if you require help booking through this site – just telephone and we will guide you through it. They have some fantastic deals when booking in advance and reservations open 3 months before the travel date.

There is a new feature on the SNCF website which allows you to see which trains take bikes fully assembled. You need to use the French version (click French flag top right) and when entering your start and finish point, click '+ de criteres' just underneath. More options will appear and click on 'Voyagez avec votre velo' then tick the box 'Je voyage avec mon velo'. Select ' vélo(s) non plié(s) ou non démonté(s)' which is for fully assembled bikes, or the second option if you have a bike bag. Note the maximum size of bike bags is 120cm x 90cm, which means bike boxes are usually unsuitable. There is generally a charge for fully assembled bikes but it is only about 10 euros. Bikes in a bag go as normal luggage free of charge.

Travellers from the UK can also do far worse than taking the Eurostar and changing at Lille or Paris. Again, when booked in advance, fares can be very competitive and the www.voyages.sncf.fr  website is arguably the more useful place to research your options.

Like all major cities Paris has many mainline railway stations so we advise changing trains at Lille if at all possible, so that you will only have to change platforms rather than cross a city to make your connection. That said a night in Paris before or after your holiday is not a bad thing!

If travelling from the south of France a good option is to take the night train, which arrives in Paris at 7 or 8am. You can reserve a couchette or, for a cheaper option, a reclining seat. These trains allow you to take your bike fully assembled, and if you then book it onto Eurostar assembled, you do not need to worry about bike boxes.

You should be aware of restrictions in taking bikes on trains in France; on some TGVs you can take them on fully assembled (but have to pre-book for €10) but on others you have to put them in a bike bag ('housse' in French), where your bike is then considered as hand luggage and there is no need to book it on the train in advance. If taking a bike bag the maximum size for it is 1.2 m x 0.9m. You will therefore need to take the wheels off, and, depending on your bicycle, mudguards and pedals too. On regional trains you can just turn up with a fully assembled bike and don’t need to book or pay for the bike. We can advise on which trains require what, and what is best for each of our trips.

The mainline back from Nice and Sete does not take assembled bikes and we now offer a Bike Return service from the south of France to meet specific arrivals at London St Pancras, allowing you to travel stress-free!

Aeroplane

Arriving by air there are airports local to our trips; otherwise Paris Charles de Gaulle has high speed rail connections throughout France, often without the need to change stations in central Paris.

We offer free transfers to and from local airports at the start and finish of our holidays – see the individual holiday pages for which airports we collect from. If travelling by air you may need to arrive the day before and we can reserve a hotel for you on request.

European Bike Express

The European Bike Express http://www.bike-express.co.uk/ combines luxury coach travel with bike transport in a purpose-built trailer, meaning no dismantling of bikes. This is an excellent option for our Loire Source to Sea, Atlantic Seaboard, Loire Valley Classic, Picardy and Champagne, Bordeaux and Alsace tours.

Travel to / from St Malo:

The easiest option if travelling from the UK is to take the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St. Malo (from £35 as foot passenger with bicycle). Alternatively fly to Dinard (RyanAir from Stansted, Leeds and East Midlands) or Rennes (Flybe from Southampton, Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester and Edinburgh, Aer Lingus from Dublin). If flying into Paris you can take a train direct from Charles de Gaulle airport to Rennes and change there for St Malo (journey time 3 to 3.5 hours. Fares from €40 Euros if booked 3 months in advance; up to €100 if booked the week before).

Travel from Sete:

Sete has a railway station on the TGV network, or take the local train to Montpellier which is only 20 minutes away and has more regular TGV services. Sete to London can be done for as little as 88 Euros with a change in Paris or Lille when booked well in advance. If returning to London it is better, if possible, to select a train with a change at Lille rather than Paris as this means a simple change of platform rather than terminus. We offer our bike return service for our supported St Malo to Sete rides.

Airports in the region include Beziers (Ryanair to Bristol, Luton and Manchester) Montpellier (Ryanair to Leeds and Birmingham; Easyjet to Gatwick and Luton), Perpignan (Ryanair to Stansted), Marseille (Ryanair to Stansted and Edinburgh; Easyjet to Gatwick and Bristol).

Travel from Nice:

Nice has a mainline railway station (Gare de Nice Ville) on the TGV network, with fast and frequent services to Paris and also Lille (for Eurostar). If returning to London it is better, if possible, to select a train with a change at Lille rather than Paris as this means a simple change of platform rather than terminus.

France's second largest airport is at Nice connecting with the majority of UK airports and international destinations, with both Low Cost and National airlines represented.

 We offer our bike return service for our supported Calais to Nice and St Malo to Nice rides.

Travel to / from Ouistreham (Caen ferry terminal):

The easiest option if travelling from the UK is to take the ferry from Portsmouth to Ouistreham (from £35 as foot passenger with bicycle). There aren’t many airports local to Caen with international flights. If flying into Paris you can take a train from Charles de Gaulle airport to Le Mans and change there for Caen (journey time from 4 hours). Fares from €48 if booked 3 months in advance; up to €100 if booked the week before).

Travel to / from Lille

Lille has an international station, Lille Europe, which is on the Eurostar line and also connects with TGV trains from throughout France. There is also a domestic station, Lille Flandres, which is a couple of hundred meters from Lille Europe, so the city is extremely well placed.

Lille Europe connects directly with Charles de Gaulle airport.

A good no fly option from the UK is to take the train from London to Dover, hop on a ferry, then take a train from Calais to Lille (about an hour and a half). This method means no need to dissasemble your bike.

Travel to / from Tours

Tours train station connects with Caen via the TER train – these are the local trains where just turn up with your bike. You can either travel by ferry to Ouistreham and ride to Caen station (a flat 15km alongside the canal) or take the shuttle bus between Ouistreham and Caen. Tours is only an hour and a half from Paris by TGV, and it also connects directly with Lille Europe for the Eurostar.

If flying into Paris you can take a train direct from Charles de Gaulle airport to Tours (journey time from 2h20m). Fares from €32 if booked 3 months in advance; up to €60 Euros if booked the week before).

Travel to Le Puy en Velay

Le Puy en Velay is easily accessible from the mainline at Nice with regular services on which you can take fully assembled bikes.

Lyon is the closest airport (EasyJet from Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Stansted and Gatwick) and has many connections worldwide and you can then get a train onwards to Le Puy en Velay which is a very enjoyable journey up the Loire river Gorge.

The European Bike Express coach goes to Valence and Lyon.

Travel from St Nazaire

St Nazaire is on the TGV to Paris and also direct to Lille Europe for Eurostar connections. You can also change at Nantes for trains to Rennes and St Malo or Ouistreham.

Airports are at Nantes (EasyJet and Flybe from Gatwick, Flybe from Manchester, RyanAir from Dublin and Shannon), Rennes (Flybe from Southampton, Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester and Edinburgh, Aer Lingus from Dublin), or even Brest (Air France / Flybe from Southampton and Birmingham, CityJet from London City)

Travel to / from Strasbourg

Strasbourg is well connected as you might expect, with fast and frequent trains from Paris for Eurostar connections (from €125 from London).

The airport is well-served with flights from throughout Europe, although not from the UK.

The European Bike Express goes to Nancy which has good links to Strasbourg.

Travel to / from Reims

Reims has a 'normal' station in the city centre and a TGV station 5 miles away, officially called Champagne-Ardennes TGV, but also sometimes referred to as 'Reims TGV'. Direct trains from here to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport take half an hour, and under one hour into the centre of Paris (Paris Est station). Reims also has direct services to the south of France, the west coast and to Lille Europe.

Travel to / from Bordeaux

Bordeaux has an airport on many national and low-cost airlines' routes, including Bristol (Easyjet) Dublin (Aer Lingus), Edinburgh (RyanAir), Liverpool (Easyjet), Gatwick (BA and Easyjet), Luton (Easyjet) . Being a major city it also has excellent train connections with the TGV from Paris taking from 3 hours.

Travel to Biarritz

Direct trains from Paris take about 5 hours. Biarritz also has an airport with some seasonal flights. You could also fly to Bordeaux and take the train down to Biarritz.