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Bike + Train in France

Taking your bike by train in France need not be a headache if you know how the system works.

High speed trains in France are called 'TGV's and these are a very quick, reliable and reasonably priced service. Each line is operated by a different franchise, so the rules are different for each one. So, for example, taking a bike on the train from Nice to Paris is not the same as on the train from Paris to Bordeaux.

Some TGV lines will let you take a bike fully assembled, for which you pay approximately 10 euros and for which you must book in advance. On others, you must take your bike apart and put it in a 'housse' (meaning 'cover' - or bike bag). It then travels as a normal piece of luggage without charge; however, it must fit the maximum dimensions of the rail operator (190cm x 90cm) as it must be put in the luggage racks on the train; the French take a very dim view to luggage or bikes stored in the gangways and carriage-ends by the doors.

The local trains in France are known as 'TER's and on these, you can just up with a fully assembled bike and put it in the carriage with the bike symbol on the side. Whilst you don't need to book this, don't assume it can take 20 bikes at a time so if you are a large group over about 6 you should be prepared to travel in different trains.

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.

 

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