Bicycle Touring Experiences from France

France

On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who travel to France (you can share your experiences here).


Contents on this page


Air France - Bicycle Experience

My bike failed to make it with rest of baggage in both directions from US to France. It was delivered two days after we arrived in France. The bike again failed to show up with our regular baggage on our return trip to US. As of this writing (3 days later) I do not have my bike yet.

Air France lost baggage service in France was pretty good. Service was terrible in the US. I would recommend calling Air France baggage in France if they lose your bike. (0033 1 55 69 84 68)

I flew business class that entitled me to 'Priority Baggage' and also paid the $150 fee for the bicycle. Apparently priority carries little weight since they blew it both ways.

I also had to call them three times prior to the trip to provide details on the bike.

My recommendation would be to avoid Air France if you want to take your bike on a holiday.

John Brown, September 16, 2013

Thai bike friendly

We flew MEL-BKK-CDG and CDG-BKK-MEL in June/July 2011 for the Tour De France. I had a Scott CR1 Pro boxed up in a cardboard bike box. I'd contacted Thai prior to the flight to ask about bike and they offered me an extra 4kg over the standard 23kg so now 27kg check-in allowed. No hassles in either direction and box arrived in good nick both ways. On the way back I had actually gone a bit overboard and had 30kg of check-in total. No problems and no extra charges.

roger, November 15, 2012

What different airlines charge for taking your bike with them

Up to date information about what different airlines charge for taking your bike on their planes.

http://www.cyclefiesta.com/multimedia/articles/taking-bicycles-on-planes.htm

Most European airlines are covered, as well as a few other big ones around the world.

Ian Smitton, August 27, 2012

Bike Rental - Beziers

Bicycle hire in Beziers, south of France. Located 400 meters from the train station and 600 meters from the Canal du Midi. Bikes manufactured by GIANT. Bikes can be hired for a few hours up to a few weeks. English, Dutch, and French spoken. Owners: Timo and Isabella.

www.relaxrentals.fr

Timo and Isabella, March 31, 2012

DuVelo / Discover Europe on a really good bike.

We rent trekking bikes (Santos Travelmaster 2.6ALU) with Rohloff and belt, waterproof Ortlieb bags, GPS. We pick up and deliver anywhere in Europe.

Dumortier Tom, March 26, 2012

Burgundy Bike Tours

We rent hybrid and road bike in Burgundy and France. We have a fleet of 300 bicycles, we deliver them every where. We also provide guided bike tours.

Florian Garcenot, November 17, 2011

Road bike rental in France, Pyrenees, Alps, Burgundy, Toulouse, Beaune

http://www.bikerentalfrance.com provides road bike rentals on French cycling spots: Burgundy, Pyrenees, Alps. Bikes are delivered in main cities: Toulouse, Tarbes, Bagneres de Luchon, Carcassonne, Limoux, Saint-Girons, Brains, Lyon, Macon, Grenoble, Annecy, Dijon, Auxerre.

bikes have carbon fiber frames and shimano 105 equipment.

philippe sauvage, November 08, 2011

Air France is fantastic for travelling with bike

I travelled with my bike from Boston to India (with a stopover in Paris) in 2010. Not a cent extra - no problems. As it is bike touring in a foreign country can be expensive but Air France eases the pain by not giving any hassels. Think all airlines may be that friendly to bikes? - wrong. Travelled from Boston to Denver by United - paid $200 each way ($100 for the bike & $100 for excess weight). Not all airlines are bike friendly - Air France is. Guess what Air France, you have a customer for life.

Sanjay Jaiman, October 17, 2011

Bicycle Travel Bags and Bicycle protector Bags. Law Rome

Rome Bike Bags continues to support the Bicycle Travel Bag indsutry needs celebrating their 15th year. The Bicycle Travel Bag or airline and rail travel continues to be the industry standard for ease of use and utility The Patented Bicycle Protector Bag is more popular than ever. Protect you bike form the elements when not in use. wwwbikebags.com 1-888-ROME-BIK 310-791-6366 Law Rome

Law Rome, October 05, 2011

Train - Tandem - Reims to Paris

In Fall of 2009 I took a train from Reims to Paris. We had tried the GTV but were not allowed. Then we took a local train. A lot of work went into going up and down stairs.

The first train from Reims to Eperney was a very nice bombardier 2 car train they the tandem rolled onto. In Eperney we had to go up and down stairs and then find the bike car then with some help shove the tandem in the space between the doors. This was OK until we got near Paris and people wanted to get on the train using the doors we were blocking. We did make it to Paris.

G. Allen Morris III, December 14, 2010

Update: Air France claim for lost bicycles

On a previous post I said that Air France had delayed our bikes for five days. On our return I submitted a claim and just received a check covering all expenses during our delay, including hotel bill for 3 days, clothing purchase, alternate transportation, and phone bill.

I was pleased with their fairly quick and complete response. Their customer service has somewhat redeemed itself in my book...

Laura Wanker, November 29, 2010

looking for maps, collaborators online cycling project

Hiya, I am on sourcing out the best ways to travel with bikes and to this end have started my own project. I need maps of proven cycle routes all around Europe, detailing stop off points, cycle friendly accomodation, repair points and hospitable people along the way to make my journey easier.

glenn newland, November 07, 2010

AIR CANADA MURDERS BIKERS

We left Brussels Belgium after a 3 week tandem holiday.
Day of departure Aug 15. We paid 35 Euros for our tandem case. It is a special case made to withstand heavy duty airline travel which weighs about 70 pounds.Our santana tandem decouples nicely into this case.
We had three connections: Montreal, Toronto, and Seattle.
Our shock is that the case did not appear at any of these points.
We immediately filed a claim. AIR CANADA customer support is located in INDIA. They will not give out any information. We are obligated to wait until AIR CANADA feels like contacting us.
It is now October 1 and still they have not given us any information. If they refuse to admit that the bike was stolen, I will be unable to file police reports in Europe and to register an insurance claim.
This bike has been in our family for 10 years and we were are completely devastated.
This is the first time we ever had problems flying with the tandem. It was the first time a we have ever flown AIR CANADA and it is certainly the last.
I am amazed that as we pay more ancillary airline fees, the airlines still hold the power over us, the average customer.
Isn't anyone upset over airline control of this nature?

luvmytandem, October 01, 2010

Bike hire in SW France

Welcome to our bicycle hire shop - Prêt à Rouler (ready to roll). Discover the Béarnaise countryside using a 'green', economical and healthy form of transport. We have several types of bike: VTC (Vélo Tout Chemin) for cycling around town and through villages and VTT (Vélo Tout Terrain) or mountain bike for off road trips. If you prefer a more traditional bike we have 'Velo de Villes' made in France.Children are well catered for too with smaller sized VTTs and if you have particluarly young children we have a 'baby buggy' trailer that clips onto the back of your bike and tows the children safely behind. We have some child seats that can be used with our VTCs and we have recently added 'tag-alongs' to our stock. These are like half a bike that you tow behind you.

David Gander, September 20, 2010

Air France lost our bicycles for five days

When traveling Portland to Athens via Air France, our bicycles were delayed in the Seattle airport, then in CDG airport, causing a five day delay in our trip. The bikes are S&S coupled and are contained in boxes built to fit airline regular luggage specifications.

Air France has been very unresponsive to any communication via telephone - Paris numbers do not answer, the fax number on the website is incorrect, local AF numbers in Athens reach an intermediary with no answers. The fax and email sent to the local AF office has gone without response.

I can not recommend Air France as a carrier, since, if something goes wrong, you will not have any recourse.

Full details can be seen on my website, in the Greece article.

Laura Wanker, September 09, 2010

Experiences taking our bikes to France May2010 via Delta

1) Delta carried our two touring bikes and charged us $1100 round trip for that service. You really want to include the price of baggage surcharges when you are shopping for a flight.

2) We used two boxes to carry the bikes. Originally I was going to get cardboard boxes from a bike shop and use that to ship, but when I saw today's cardboard boxes for bikes are made of very low burst strength carboard, I bought two shipping boxes. One was a corplast box from Colorado Cyclist which is like a plastic version of a cardboard box. The other was a ProBike ABS plastic shipping case with wheels and an internal frame. We bought both used for $50 each, since we live in Denver where a lot of this stuff is available. I found I could not properly pack the Colo Cyclist box with both wheels, so put three wheels in the ProBike case and one in the Colo Cyclist case. I was delighted to find in Paris that the Colo Cyclist box could fit inside the ProBike case after the bikes were removed. We incurred no damage to the bikes.

3) We flew open jaw (into France at Paris, out from Nice). This meant we had to somehow get the boxes from Paris to Nice so we could use them to ship the bikes back. We spent 114 Euro with Sernam to have them shipped and the hotel we had booked in Nice was kind enough to receive the box and hold it for us during the three weeks we were on our tour.

4) Getting these boxes around from the airport to our hotels and whatnot was a challenge due to their size. We were successful in getting them on the RER train from CDG airport to the nearest train stop near our hotel in Paris. We then ended up reverting to simply rolling the ProBike case down the sidewalk on its wheels to get it where we needed to go. In a couple of cases that meant several kilometers of sidewalk travel (like when we were going from the hotel to the airport in Nice), but it worked out surprisingly well.

Rick Randall, June 01, 2010

France: Recumbent Rentals - Provence, Camargue

Our job is to rent some ICE recumbent trikes and LWB recumbent bikes Sun EZ-1. You will ride self-guided or with Jean-Jacques your guide. Our region is the south of France with the Camargue and a part of Provence. We tailor our services to your project.
You can visit our website (in french): www.lebarjonaute.fr. To write us :le-barjonaute@orange.fr

Jean-Jacques Courrée.

Barjoland sarl

282 rue Carnot

30600 VAUVERT


06 03 53 65 64


www.lebarjonaute.fr

Jean-Jacques Courrée, May 28, 2010

Traveling with bikes

I traveled in August 2009 with my bike from Montreal,Canada to London, Gatwick airport with CanadianAffair (Thomas Cook)and they charged me $60CAD each way.
I am traveling from Montreal to France in July 2010 and AirCanada charges $50 CAD each way to carry your bike and it will count as a piece of luggage. This is from AirCanada's website:each bicycle counts as one piece of baggage towards the maximum number of checked bags allowed by your fare type.

Bicycles are subject to a $50 CAD/USD handling charge (plus applicable taxes) for carriage on all Air Canada and Jazz flights. The charge applies to one-way flights and for each way of travel on round-trip and multi-segment flights.

If your baggage count (bicycle + number of bags to be checked) exceeds the maximum number of items allowed by your fare type, additional checked baggage charges will apply, in addition to the fixed handling charge.

Please note that a single fixed handling charge is waived for Latitude and Executive fare customers for travel within Canada, and between Canada and the US. Additional checked baggage rules still apply.

Diana, February 25, 2010

Easyjet to fly bikes

I've used Easyjet to fly my Claud Butler Hybrid to a variety of European destinations - Prague, Berlin, Nice, Barcelona and Rome and they have been ok - no danmage and easy enough to book in a nd recover the cycle. All I do is remove the pedals, turn in the handlebars, half pressure the tyres and wrap the machine in gash cardboard. They seem ok with that.

jim boam, January 30, 2010

Enno moved to a new e-mail adress again .........

Enno is still very much in touch with the world of traveling- commuting- and racing bicycles. Bike Fridays all around the place but 2 Birdy's ( Riese & Müller ) and 2 Serotta's as well. Oooops need extra locks on our frontdoor !

Enno Roosink, December 11, 2009

Bikes to Europe via JFK

My wife and I have been biking in Europe since 1984 and have trusted our bikes to the airlines each trip. There is a little known facet of the transatlantic fare structure that says bikes fly free if they are your only checked baggage. It does help to find the tarrif on the web site and have it printed out in case you find a new employee at the counter. It also helps to be traveling from a real international airport like JFK.
We have been using the cardboard boxes available from the airlines ($10-$30) that are large enough to allow the bikes to fit without removing the wheels. In 15 round trips I estimate that the bikes sustained minimal damage on 3 of the trips maximum. The damage was limited to the return trip and generally consisted of broken bike computer wires. Sometimes the boxes do not fare as well. I have had the box so beatup that they did not even give me the pieces. I do admit that I am using steel touring bikes (Trek520) and not fragile $5000 carbon fiber bikes.
Recently, it has become much more difficult to find the boxes at the US airport. I now make sure that I have the boxes before I set off to the airport at the start of our trip. At London Heathrow there is a service that sells boxes and they are triple wall very strong boxes. I was able to reuse them when I went on a trip to France this year. Air France at CDG Paris has boxes for ~7 Euros each that made it back intact. Right now, I save the box from my return from europe and use it on the trip out the next year.
Generally, I can say that I have been very happy with American Airlines for my last few trips. I recommend direct flights from the international airport as there can be problems with the domestic flights getting to the international airport.
It can be very expensive to store a bike box at the airport ($10-20/day). One friend books a night at a hotel at the airport where he is returning from and leaves his hard cover bike box in their luggage storage closet while he bike tours. We just discard the box when we arrive and buy a new one when we return.

Bill K, October 16, 2009

Bikes on Spanish trains

I managed to get a bike back from Santiago in Galicia to the UK. You can't go on fast trains so either you have to take the night train and book the whole compartment, or you have to take two regional trains, changing at Leon. This is easy, but takes all day. Then it is unofficially possible to take bikes on the "Trenhotel" from Madrid to Paris: you probably need a bike bag, and you need to have fellow travellers who are reasonable and travelling relatively light, because even in a bag the bike takes up most of the space in the overhead rack. As long as you are lucky there, the Eurostar is easy to take bikes on for 25 euros.

Ali Cavalla, September 16, 2009

Paris-Lille by TGV

It costed me 10 euro to take my bike to the train. There are 2 coaches with a special room for bikes - in the end and in the begining of each train. If you want to transfer your bike for free you must disassemble it and pack into a bag. There are other trains going from Paris to Lille where you shouldn't pay for the bike but it takes more time to get from Paris to Lille (2-3 hours instead of 58 minutes!) and also it costs more and there are at least 1 stop where you should change the train!

Elena, August 31, 2009

Bike rental in South of France

Wandeo provides carbon fiber rental bikes in South of France. All bikes can be delivered in main cities, Toulouse, Carcassonne, Limoux, Foix, Tarbes, Pyrenees.

Philippe, March 22, 2009

US Airways

UPDATE: Went back in '07 and they did not charge going out from RDU, but did charge returning from CDG. We got lucky outbound. Cardboard Boxes were not cheap at Paris airport either. But bikes did arrive safe & sound, and on-time.

---

No problems bringing a bike aboard on U.S. Airways to and from France for PBP (August 2003).

I used a cardboard Amtrak BOX for the outgoing trip (RDU, Philadelphia, Paris) - no airline fee, they never even mentioned it. I picked up another cardboard BOX from U.S. Air at CDG-1 (Paris) on the return trip - not even a charge for the BOX. They even provided tape. Do pad your velo well. The BOX WILL get tears and holes and handling. It will get cut open and retaped through security. It will be turned upside down and everywhich way and there will be things placed on top of it.

I did NOT deflate the tires. On arrival in Paris some of us noticed our tires had lost about half the air. We refilled and rode - no problems. Mine didn't seem to loose any air on the return trip.

Taking the assembled, unboxed bike aboard the RER trains in Paris was no problem either. I used the Yellow line between Paris and St Quentin and the Blue line between Paris and CDG. We even took bikes on the subway, though they're technically only allowed on Metro on Sundays. If you use the subway, avoid peak time/direction. The streets of Paris (and France) are very bike friendly, so you might as well cycle.

The Air France (Greyhound-sized) bus from the airport to Paris carried my BOXed bike in the luggage area (below).

A friend stored his bike (for a fee) at the consignment section of the train station at Montparnasse (Paris).

Adrian Hands, December 08, 2008

Flying with bike on Delta/Air France

Spent the first week of September cycling the Pyrenees ... what a great time - some of them cols are REALLY steep!

Anyhow, traveled on Delta to Paris with an Air France connection to Toulouse. Departed from Cincinnati I'ntl on Delta - used their kiosk to check in. While checking in, it stated that if I had special baggage that I should select the "Special Baggage" option, but there was no option on the screen. So I selected 2 regular bags (one suitcase and the bike box - Performance Bike hard-case box). When I wheeled the bike box up to the counter, the DELTA rep asked why I had not selected the special bag option since it was obvious I had a bike. I told him the option didn't show up. He muttered something like they should really charge me $175 each way for the box, but since I had bought my tickets before July 30th he waived the fee ... bike flew free to Toulouse!! Had to wait a VERY ANXIOUS 20-25 minutes (after all other luggage had been picked up) at baggage claim in Toulouse before the cargo handler wheeled the bike in from the outside (not cool as it's a $6K bike).

On the way back I tried to talk the Air France rep into letting it fly for free since Delta hadn't charged me on the way there ... she tried everything she could, but I ended up having to pay 150 euro to get it home. Overall not too bad considering I expected to pay $600 round trip for the bike (what a rip-off - my bike box most certainly weighed less than most other bags even though it is oversized); I think I just lucked out.

Bike made it there and back with zero damage ... box had some minor scrapes and one of the latches looks like it had been pried open (TSA couldn't get it open the regular way??).

Chris, October 05, 2008

Bicycle Rentals in Italy, France and Europe in General

The folks at www.BikeRentalsPlus.com rent bikes and deliver them to your villa, hotel, or even to the airport. We rented bikes in Nice and pedaled for 4 weeks and dropped the bikes off in Venice - a great service. Their bikes are equipped with 24- or 27-speed Shimano gear systems. We had road bikes with Shimano Total Integration (STI) shifter/brake lever controls. They also provide hybrid bicycles with Shimano RapidFire or SRAM GripShift shifters. I think they also can provide mountain bikes.

Our 32-spoke wheelsets on the road bikes were solid and reliable for carrying gear and the bikes were equiped with Vittoria 700x25c tires.

The bikes came with a cyclometer, pump, rear rack, lock, and an under-seat pack that contains a spare tube, tire irons, and patch kit.

We actually considered buying some of their used bikes instead of renting but finally decided just to rent. (We have a friend who did buy a used bike and they shipped it to Vienna for him - he picked it up there at a bike shop, pedaled to Budapest and sold the bike there before flying home!)

Rick Price, September 14, 2008

Storing bike boxes at Toulouse airport

August 2008
Planned cycle tour from Toulouse scuppered by no left luggage. You can not store bike boxes at the airport (no left luggage) or at the train station (small lockers). Would be good to compile knowledge about storage at different airports and stations.

Jane O'Neill, August 25, 2008

American Airlines - DEN-CDG 2008

I flew American Airlines from Denver to CDG Paris in Feb 2008, returning in May 2008.

AA charged me $110 each way for my CrateWorks box (containing my Bianchi Axis, helmet, shoes, extra tires, etc.)

Nobody opened the box at any point. Box came through a bit scuffed, but ready for a few more trips.

birdman, August 17, 2008

CORAIL & TER trains in France

No problem turning up at Gare du Lyon in Paris and buying ticket for two people and two bikes for travel within the hour on the CORAIL train to Clermont Ferrand: hanging space bike storage for six bikes, and seating space in next door carriage. Bikes cost 10 euros each.

On regional TER trains, from Clermont Ferrand south, bikes travel free, no reservation needed. Bus replacement service on part of line also took bikes no problem.

Bronwen , July 14, 2008

Portsmouth - St Malo Ferry, TER Trains and British Airways

Hi,
We took two bikes (one with panniers and the other with a BOB Trailer) too France recently. No problems on the Portsmouth - St Malo ferry, and lots of other cycle tourers doing the same thing.
We cycled most of the way to Paris then put our bikes on the TER - Transport Express Régional train for the last leg. On these trains there is space for bikes at either end of the train and there is no need to make a reservation.
Once we arrived in Paris we were happy to find that the nearly all parks and roads had cycle lanes.
At the end of our holiday we cycled to Gare du Nord station and took the RER train out to CDG airport. Again there is room for bikes at both ends of the train. This train goes through some rough parts of northern Paris so watch your belongings.
Once at CDG we flew home using BA. No problems with bikes. Just took the front wheel off, turned the handle bars around and took the pedals off and put the bike in a large plastic bag that we purchased from the CTC in the UK.

David, May 21, 2008

Ferry deals between England and continent

cheap
ferry ticket
to France, Spain and more online - Ferrycheap.com
Chris, February 24, 2008

How we did it!

Aer Lingus from JFK to Barcelona. Bikes (2) checked thru. No extra charge. Not the case if you boarded in Dublin to Barcelona. Fun interlude...While waiting for transfer in Dublin we are paged. It seems there is a problem with the bikes, sir. Oh boy, here we go..It seems they x rayed and wanted the CO2 canisters out of the boxes. So, we un- tape the boxes (big bore) get the canisters out after my protestations that they made it thru NY security, so why...here they are, OK? I gave them 3 and put the rest in my pockets! Since we had been escorted around security this was not a problem going back to the gate.

Boxes. Get them from a Trek dealer free. Their high end bikes come in really great boxes. Pack them full of extra stuff. Remember you'll want to get your luggage weights so no one piece is over. Go to IKEA and buy straps for them to save time by using less tape . Bring your own tape and tie downs, but not in carry on!

Leased a car for a little over a month. Huge hassle trying to figure out the roof rack situation.It seems hard to believe but American Thule and European Thule racks are not compatible! Thule does sell a kit called a "Ride on Adapter" that permits you to put your Thule rails on generic cross bars. Purchased factory cross bars (they only fit a 407 Peugeot!) as part of the lease but you own them when your done (anyone wanna buy mine?)and brought my rails.

We were in the Pyrenees but then needed to drive to Chamonix in the Alps. Wanted to do some some sight seeing so it occurred to me that I might be more practical to ship the bike across France and save some money on fuel too. The car was a lot slower with two boxes up there. The most convenient way (or so I thought) was to go to the local post office in town. Very inexpensive. But can't insure them for very much. Well, 48 hr delivery turned out to be a cruel farce. The bikes left together. One arrived 4 days late, the other 9 days late. Ouch. Good thing I speak French or might still be waiting.

Flight home was from Geneva. With out a doubt the worst airport to return a car to. We flew on Air Qatar to Newark. A little touch and go with the weights but in the end they let us slide. My brother flew home on Air France. Do not tell them its a bike. They will charge you big bucks. He went back later and just said it was sports equipment eh voila! No charge!

Was it worth it? Yes!

Fred Gilbert, January 16, 2008

Marseille - Paris TGV and Paris-Cherbourg

Travelled from Marseille to Paris on TGV with bike in homemade housse, bag dimensions about 140x110cm. Fellow passengers very helpful in assisting me onto train with bagged bike and numerous panniers. Lots of luggage already in the racks, so propped it up in passageway - once we had got moving, the train staff helped me to find luggage space. It slid easily onto the luggage rack. There was no problem with it being a bike.

I then took the train from Paris to Cherbourg. There are special bike areas on these trains, one passenger was carrying a fully assembled bike and there was no problem although the train was full and there was a sign indicating that bikes should be bagged.

Helen, December 09, 2007

Two bicycles with Air France (one folding, one regular)

We went from Toronto to Douala via Paris CDG (with a 2 night layover) and back again with both a boxed bicycle and a Dahon folding bicycle in a suitcase. Here are some comments:

- At Toronto YYZ they immediately knew that we had a bicycle in the box. They automatically made us pay $150 for it. However, since we had a 2-day layover before continuing on to Douala I asked if I'd be charged again for the 2nd leg and they provided another receipt for that portion. SO IF YOU HAVE A LAYOVER BE SURE YOU ASK FOR A RECEIPT FOR THE SECOND LEG IF YOU GET CHARGED.

- My Dahon, even though oversized and slightly overweight, was not even blinked at by the staff.

- FYI, at CDG you can store excess baggage at a place called Baggages du Monde for a daily fee (15 Euros per piece per day) since you can't check it all the way through to your final destination. They will take it off-sight for storage and bring it back at the time you specify for pick-up.

- Leaving CDG for Douala, I never had to haul out my receipt for that portion: we confirmed it was a bicycle when asked and it went merrily on its way without an attempt at charging us. Ditto for the Dahon in its case.

- Leaving Douala we had stuffed my Dahon case so it was well over its weight and size limit. The airline didn't say anything. They also didn't charge for bicycle in its box.

So all this to say that your experience is likely going to vary based on the airport and maybe even who is working that day!

Eric M, November 21, 2007

Ryanair

Flew ryanair fromEast Midlands this sept to Carcassonne with 2 bikes. Bikes were in plastic bags and Only problem at East Midlands was they would not pass through Xray scanner so in the end handler just took them through as own baggage! Bikes appeared unharmed at Carcassonne. took return flight from bergerac and again bikes would not fit through Xray machine and so handle bars had to be unclipped to fit. French security were very officious. Couldnt fault Ryanair!

Andrew Szwed, October 24, 2007

Flying Air France with a bicycle

A friend and I purchased a tickets in April for a French cycling trip. We both used Trico Iron Cases, for the record. In Chicago (O'Hare), we were charged the $150 fee, but were told two different months for the initiation of the new surcharge. Odd.

My friend and I returned at different times. He flew direct from Montpellier to Chicago, and was charged 150 Euros for the return leg. A week later I flew from Montpellier to Paris, and was charged the 20 Euro bike fee (over luggage limit, as I was alone and had two checked bags. I would not have been charged, however, had I a companion, the clerk said. We each would have had one checked bag.) Curiously, I was not charged at all for the return leg from DeGaulle to O'Hare. So be advised that yes, the new policy is in effect but its implementation seems to vary based on where and who you check in with. (I would add that it helps to be able to banter in French with the check-in person).

It seems that across the board, airlines have been initiating bicycle surcharges, with no exemptions given for a bicycle packed in something such as an Iron Case, which at most airports comes and goes on the same conveyor as luggage. I find this unfair, and intend to follow up with Air France about this matter. If something happens, I will update this entry.

I have also heard of people negotiating with a carrier to have the fee waived. Presenting an airline with loss of $150-$300 for your bicycle, or $2000 for your round-trip ticket can sometimes be effective.

Good luck, everyone.

Kevin Williams, September 04, 2007

Mayq Site on Cycling in Europe

My site mayq.com covers extensively bicycling in Europe.
The pages linking to this URL give public trans portation options as well as detailed biking directions out of Charles de Gaulle and Orly into Paris or elsewhere in France: http://www.mayq.com/Cycling_out_of_paris/Airports/Paris_airports.htm

The following url gives detailed information on trains and bicycles (including sewing lightweight bike bags) in France (and some info on other countries): http://www.mayq.com/Best_european_trips/Touring4_trains_and_bikes.htm
There is much other useful information on the site.

Q. May, August 19, 2007

Shipping a bike to France

Any suggestions about shipping a bike from the US to France (and back)? SportsExpress quotes more than $400 one way, and I'm not keen to use the airlines.

Julie Duggan, August 02, 2007

Rolling Across Europa

My site tells the story of my ride from Lviv, Ukraine to Napoli to London in 2006. (There's just a little info on Heathrow toward the end, plus mention of the Channel ferry I took.) There are many stories and photographs, with a lot of information for other travelers. Hopefully, others will find it helpful. I rode as an amateur and completed my route, which shows that you don't have to be a great cyclist to travel far (about 7900 km). The trip also raised a little money for HIV orphans in Ukraine, and I hope to do a longer ride in 2008 and raise a lot more!!

John Robinson, June 28, 2007

Website for Airline Bike Check-in policy and fees

I found the following site that lists the policies and charges.


http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm


I called two airlines that were possible options for me from the US to France.

Northwest, which I have flown to France four times with bike with no charge until last year, now charges 50$. (the 150$ listed on that site is for tandems.

Then I phoned Air France to confirm the info on that site, it is 150 EUROS one-way for Trans-Atlantic Flights. Comes to about 400 dollars round-trip.

Just thought I pass that along.

"Official" airline regulations are all very well, but often not known or understood by the airline staff. -- GF

Charles Lee, June 08, 2007

Jetairfly - Corsica bad deal

Unhappy experience through reservation process with Jetairfly from Brussels to Corsica re. upcoming touring trip this summer.

Information in FAQ re. bicycle transport is outdated. Pop-up information during the online reservation states a fee of 10 euros per bike per leg so we went ahead and booked. An online request for a written confirmation for the bike fee got us a completely different story: 8 euros per kilo as excess baggage (on a 250 euros round trip, that adds up).

Further discussion through travel agent indicates maybe applies only to the excess of the overall 20 kilos baggage limitation, but that is entirely unclear. Company refuses to refund the ticket altogether so we are stuck with this awful deal.

Anne Bourlioux, May 07, 2007

Tandem to europe from US

I am trying to get my tandem to Europe from Portland Oregon. I will be flying on Northwest KlM and then taking a train. Has anyone done this. I will be by myslef meeting up with my captain at my final destination. Tips for the airline and whether you can take a boxed tandem on the freight compartments of trains and whether they tranfer luggage if there is a train connection would be helpful. I will also take any other thoughts that would be helpful. I can't seem to find a tandem to rent there. Thanks

Martha Bueche, April 05, 2007

Vive les Alpes

An online guide to cycling in the French alps including classic col information.

Paul Gregory, March 12, 2007

Avoid Air France if you can

While planning a bike tour in Czech Republic we foolishly jumped at a low ticket price before comparing airline policies on transporting bikes. We purchased our ticket with Air France to our deep and abiding regret.

Here is the word on Air France's bike policy straight from la bouche du cheval:
Bikes are now considered excess baggage - i.e. you can take two full suitacases and the bike. The flat fee for taking a bike from the US to Europe is $150 per bike each way. This covers you from start to finish as long as you are travelling on one ticket (e.g. our ticket is for DC to Prague via Paris and back again, so we'd pay $300 altogether).

The bike must be boxed and weigh less than 23kg/50#. The dimensions of the box must be L 175cm, W 21.5cm, H 86cm. If your bike weighs between 23kg and 32kg (and don't forget the weight of the box itself) the fee goes up to $200. Pedals must be removed, handlebars parallel to the frame, front wheel dismounted and tied to the frame, tires deflated.

Weight and size must be provided to Air France ahead of time so that they can reserve cargo space for your bikes.

Of course, if you weigh 300 pounds and are carting two massive suitcases and a bulging rollaboard carry-on - NO WORRIES! Grr..

Ian, February 27, 2007

bike rental in the Gard, Lanquedoc, France

we rent bikes from our shop in St Quentin la Poterie, Uzes.
We also have a range of local rides in the area.
Please see our website for more information.

doug stoddart, February 19, 2007

Northwest let oversized box go to France for free!

I returned to France from Cleveleand via Detroit, Paris and Marseille by Northwest & Air France with a bike frame, fork and bar packed up in the original frame shipping box. The box was a bit smaller than a bike box, but still bigger than the 160 linear inch limit.

They checked it through all the way to Marseille with no extra fee. It was, of course, not at all heavy - so maybe that helped. They did charge us $25 for a very heavy piece of luggage that we also had to check, though, so maybe the nice lady was giving us a break. Had I been going the other direction, I don't think Air France would have been as nice about it!

I lined the box with 1/2 styrofoam panels, enclosed each section of the frame and fork inside foam pipe insulation and used the box's original cardboard inserts, and there was no damage at all to the frame - although the box was a little bit beat up, but not bad. I did have to sign a damage waiver when we checked in, so we've been out of luck if there had been any damage.

Dave, January 08, 2007

LYON FRANCE Saint Exupéry Airport

LYON Saint Exupéry Airport - Mézieu - Lyon - Airport code: LYS
Website: www.lyon.aeroport.fr

Leaving the airport is very bicycle friendly. When you leave baggage claim, you are facing west. The north-south road in front of the airport is D517e. Ride west through the airport property to D517e and turn left (south). Go less than one mile, and turn right (west) on D29. It is a two lane bucolic road with moderate traffic and bicycle friendly.

Go to D147 and take a right in the direction of Mézieu (north). It is a total of six miles (10 km) to Mézieu. There is lodging in Mézieu. The FORMULE 1 is within easy riding of the airport and is an inexpensive place to gather when arriving on an international flight.

From Mézieu it is another 10 miles (16 km) into Lyon. This too is a fairly easy route to navigate on a bicycle. Our group took the main road (D517 - Av. Jean Juarés ) west from Mézieu towards Lyon on our way to Le Puy-en-Velay. At north/south highway N383 you need to find the pedestrian bridge to cross over the top of the highway. Av. Jean Juarés changes to D6a, Emile Zola. This is the only major highway you will cross on the way into Lyon.

MAP OF THE AIRPORT AREA

If the map does not load, select FRANCE from the country drop down box and select SEARCH.

HOTEL - FORMULE 1 Lyon Mézieu Eurexpo

www.hotelformule1.com (A triple room in AUG 2006 was 29 €) The manager at the hotel allows the bicycles to be stored in the office upstairs. The rooms are too small to keep a bicycle unless you are the only one occupying the room.

[The only food within walking distance though is the McDonald's in front of the FORMULE 1.]

Bruce Northcutt
Raleigh, NC
August 18 - September 18, 2006
bruce_northcutt@ekit.com
www.peregrino.crazyguyonabike.com

Bruce Northcutt, November 30, 2006

Nice Airport Information

A very easy airport to arrive at, or depart from either international or domestic. Have used it four years in a row for cycle tours to Corsica, Sardinia, and the Alps. Generally uncongested and speedy to pass through check-in, security etc. Security has been a bit fussy a couple of times - confiscated glue from puncture repair kit as flammable, made to check in bungee cords, pump and tent (poles & pegs), seen as potential weapons!

Easy access to airport, cycle path all the way from airport to central Nice (and ferry port) along seafront.

Handy cheap hotel a couple of minutes cycle from Airport towards city - Premier Classe Hotel, 42 Euros for a room for up to 3 people, allowed to take bikes into room with bags still on.

Highly recommend Nice as an arrival/departure point and as a destination in itself.

Ruairidh Alexander, October 03, 2006

Bikes on trains in France

I just came back from riding the Chemin de San Jacques in France (the french component of the Santiago de Compostella). I flew into Paris, took a TGV to St. Etienne, and then a conventional SNCF train to Le Puy en Velay. On the return I took an overnight sleeper from Bayonne to Paris. Here's what I found out:

American Airlines charged me $90 for transport to Paris, but on the return I wasn't charged anything, even though the guy at the desk said he should charge me. They're just easier about bikes in France. They also opened my case in Boston, but only X-Rayed it on the return in Paris.

The TGV has a small space. I put my bike in a sleeping bag sack and it worked great. I later slept in the same sack later in gite etapes. You need to take the wheels off, but if you get a larger luggage area (and you need to go and get one because they fill up), then you don't need to take the handlebars off or remove the seat post. I took a road bike with dropped bars and no rack on the back.

On the conventional trains it's easier. You just stand the bike up in the rear end of the rear car and then go find a seat. No big deal, and it's free.

In the sleeper cars, they charge you $10 for the bike. In a sleeper there are four bunks. The bike gets the bottom bunk and you get the top. You may end up sharing one with someone else who has a bike, also.

In Paris, you can take a bike on the RER, but not the Metro. This isn't that big of a hassle, but does involve a bit more planning when looking at the maps in the train station.

I had a blast. Write to me and I'll send you pictures of what some of this looked like. It is a bit of a hassle to get the bike over there, but, boy, was it fun.

Rich Evans, September 24, 2006

Ryanair

A fantastic open-jaw trip out to Grenoble, over the Alps and home from Turin. Not possible with a bike box, and depended on Ryanair accepting the bare bike. They did, no damage either way, though I was told they were going to stop this - bad news. Hiccup coming back - the bike didn't go on the plane, but they did send it to my home 2 days later.

Harry Longman, September 15, 2006

Montpellier, France

From center of Montpellier follow the cycleroad to the sea (Plage).

Don't take the big roads. The traffic is horrifying! When you arrive at the Parc de Exhibition follow the signs to the airport. No problems at check-in desk. The bicycle goes free (Sterling Airways). Just turn over the handelbar and take off the pedals.

Stig Svensson, September 08, 2006

Air France charge for bikes in boxes

AF charge for bikes even if you don't have other bagage to check in. It cost me €40 to take the bike from Stockholm / Arlanda - Paris Charles de Gaulle - Geneva and €20 on the way home.

The bike was in a normal bike cardboard box and I had no other bagage to check in (24 kg). I should have taken a regular suit case with protection pads, clothes etc. and not left things at home since I had to pay for the bike regardles.

It is no problem to travel with foldable/kevlar MTB tires in the carry on bagage but pedals raised some concern at CDG (but one of the security staff was a cyclist so he let it go with out questions, no problem checkin in at ARN). On the way home I packed the pedals in the bike box. This was in late August 2006.

Tobbe Arnesson, September 03, 2006

SatRDay folded bike on Thalys from Amsterdam to Paris

The Thalys website indicates that "folded bicycles in suitable covers...are considered hand luggage and thus carried free of charge." In hopes of meeting this requirement, I brought two large garbage bags and a small roll of packing tape with me. On the platform, I folded my Saturday (leaving the seat attached), and pulled the garbage bags on from the front and back, taping them together. Seats are assigned on the Thalys and there were a large number of people boarding the same car I was. I waited until everyone else had boarded, then brought the bike on board. There are baggage racks at the end of each car, and the conductor helped me get the bike pushed to the side (to clear the aisle), seeming to be quite fine with the bike. In Paris, I similarly waited until everyone else got off, then ripped off the bags, unfolded it, and rolled off. (Needless to say, I stood in the baggage area keeping an eye on the bike while waiting for everyone else!) In my experience, garbage bags are a suitable cover, and the SatRDay (original model), folded is a folding bicycle, dispite the seat's large profile.

Mary, August 24, 2006

Air France charging overweight for bicycles in suitcases

I flew Air France to Amsterdam and from Paris in July and August, 2006. I was charged $25 (to) and 25 Euros (from) for my BikeFriday SatRDay in its airline regulation suitcase becase they said it was overweight. The website clearly states that each piece of luggage must be 32 kilograms (70.5 pounds) or there are overweight charges. When I got back, I weighed the suitcase on my home scale and it was 54.5 pounds. Next time I'll print out the webpage, call to confirm and ask for a supervisor. A word to the wise...

Mary, August 23, 2006

Single & Tandem Rentals in the Dordogne & Lot

Previously listed as www.bicycleoutfitter.com has been changed to either: www.dordognetours.com or www.outfittertours.com.

Dick Powell, Outfitter Bicycle Tours, July 24, 2006

Unhappy experience: Boston--Milan--Marseille

In late June 2006, four of us flew on Alitalia from Boston to Marseille via Milan.

After standing on the check-in line at Logan, the check-in representative sent us to another line to pay the bicycle fee of 65 Euros ($80). Once we got to the front of that line, that agent graciously waived the fee, and we checked in the bikes (packed in hard-sided bike travel cases). Good start.

Three out of four of the bikes arrived in Marseille, the fourth bike simply disappeared. A digital camera was pilfered (stolen) from the luggage of one of us as well, though arguably packing a camera in checked luggage was not an inspired idea. Another of us had his hard suitcase crushed (we do expect Alitalia to pay for a replacement). Alitalia personnel were not helpful in locating the bicycle and simply shrugged regarding the stolen camera and the destroyed suitcase.

On the fourth day of the vacation, the bicycle arrived in Marseille up and was promptly delivered to our hotel in Provence. Our friend was able to ride with us during the three days the bicycle was missing because he was able to rent a low-quality bicycle at a local bicycle shop in a small town called Uzes.

Departing for Boston from Marseille, we again needed to go first to the check-in line and then to a second long line to pay the bicycle fee before returning to the check-in line. This time the fee was not waived and we indeed paid 65 Euros per bike. But the amazing part of the story was the process. We arrived at 4:45 AM for a 6:10 AM flight. The woman at the counter at which we were to pay the bicycle fee simply had no idea how to proceed. She suggested we wait for her boss who arrived after a half-hour. The boss gave instructions, and a flurry of paper in triplicate the like of which I haven’t seen since the 1980’s ensued. The paperwork for the bikes took about 20 minutes, and after much signing and paying we were at last ready to continue the check-in process. All four bikes did arrive in satisfactory condition in Boston.

We’ve traveled with our bikes to Europe many times over the past 20 years. Our Alitalia experience of lost bike, stolen camera, smashed suitcase, incredible paper blizzard and indifferent cabin service makes this airline number one on our “don’t fly” list.

Stanley Lapidus, July 07, 2006

Cycling to/from Toulouse Airport

Toulouse is an excellent gateway to the South of France, there's a good network of TER regional trains that carry cycles and the towpath of the Canal du Midi provides a good route out of the city all the way to the Mediterranean.

For a trip in June 2006 I investigated the route between the airport and the main rail station, Gare Matabiau, which is also a convenient access point for the Canal du Midi. Toulouse is a relatively cycle-friendly city, my route (see link below for a copy of the map) goes through the quiet suburb of Blagny via a little side-road out of the airport that avoids the traffic), along a cycle/footpath beside the River Garonne, and then through the city centre on roads with cycle or bus lanes.

It is an easy ride as long as you have a little experience of urban cycling (inexperienced cyclists tend to stay in the gutter and get ignored, experienced ones position themselves to be seen and get respect from motorists) Toulouse traffic was busy but not aggressive, it was Friday afternoon so probably as busy as it gets, and I saw plenty of other cyclists.

You can download a .pdf of my route map HERE. Have a good trip and let me know if you find any mistakes.

One more thing to know about Toulouse Airport is that you need a 1 Euro coin to unlock a baggage trolley, if you have a bike plus camping equipment like me you'll need a trolley to get it from the luggage carousel through customs etc.

Chris Rust, June 08, 2006

Bicycle padded airline Bag

Still the best product out on the marketplace is the Bicycle Travel Bag from ROME Bike Bags, CA 310-791-6366, they ship the same day for procrastinators like myself who needed a bag in a hurry. The bag was used for a trip to france and was easily stored in a locker at the train station when I was riding. ***** Great price $129, give them a cal, I think the website is www.bikebags.com ask for Sandy.

Brian, May 26, 2006

Rental- Beaune/Burgundy

Excellent outfitter supplies cycles to many tour groups originating anywhere in France, with a shop near the train station in Beaune. I've used Florent four times with excellent results. He can also map a fantastic back road tour. http://www.bourgogne-randonnees.com/

David Manfield, May 22, 2006

Cycle touring in the Alpes Maritimes, S.E of France

We have a self catering gite at Les Basses Beaumettes in the Alpes Maritimes, S.E France, which caters especially for cyclists touring in our area. We provide a shopping service so that you do not have to carry food on your bicycles, cycle tools, maps, weather forecasts, a lockable garage and of course a washing machine. We also have a list of suggested cycle routes in our area.
Happy cycling.
Ruth Jessop

Ruth Jessop, April 04, 2006

Air France

please note as from Nov 05 Air France now charge for transporting cycles, 40 Euros within Europe, 80 Euros on intercontinental each way.
The same applies on KLM

john mooney, March 27, 2006

TGV

I took my bike to France year before last and am
headed back to the Pyrenees in June. Here is the deal.
To take your bike on the TGV, you will need a bike bag
(housse). (See Nashbar's web site. Mine was $35.)
Ohterwise you will be limited to certian slow trains
that will accept bikes. With the housse, you are free
to take any train you want. I also found a favorite
hotel in Paris which backs up onto the Roman arena
there. They are nice enough to let cyclists
store/assemble bikes in their courtyard and even
stored my box in their cellar for four weeks. If
interested, let me know and I'll send the name. The
contradictory information comes from the fact that if
you mention you have a bike to a ticket agent at the
train station, some will try to tell you that you
cannot take certian trains, even with a housse.

BikeHawaii (NOT at my-deja.com), March 22, 2006

TGV

I'm hardly an expert on taking bikes on the TGV. However, I know from first-hand experience that it can be done with a boxed bike (assuming it's in a reasonably small box, like a bike-shop box or an IronCase, not the giant bike boxes that the airlines provide).

On a Tour de France trip last year I helped several people take their bikes on the TGV from Paris to Lyon. Most got on with no problems. Two folks made the mistake of asking the conductor for help, who then told them that they could not take their bikes on the train (not true).

My suggestion: book a first-class ticket on the TGV, as there is LOADS more room for bringing a bike or two on board compared with second class (which is often quite packed).

Brian Wasson, March 22, 2006

Bike Rental all over France

We at Holiday bikes will rent Bicycles all over France - visit our website www.Holiday-Bikes.com for details.

Airports Biarritz, Pau and Tarbes/Lourdes are covered by me, Bill Shaw, a native english speaker and knowledgeable on our local area - which includes the Pyrenees section of the Tour De France.

We can also help with accommodation (also english speaking) if you want. We would love to help you experience our staggering range of natural and historical heritage.

Bill Shaw, January 22, 2006

camino de santiago

my wife and I did the camino starting in St. Jean-Pieds-de-Port, France. Upon arrival in Santiago we found out that the Spanish railways will not transport bikes, but the Spanish Bus system ALSA will transport bikes on your trip at no extra charge as long as they have two days notice. Bikes don't have to be boxed. We took a night bus back to the French border near Biarritz and the bikes were fine. To get back to our car we had to take local trains as express trains in France do not take bikes unless they are in a bike bag. then you can take them into your compartment with you. The camino is one FABULOUS trip, and we will do it again.

ferdinand lauffer, January 09, 2006

New bike transport service in Europe

Hi,

We - the company Bike Packers (www.bikepackers.com) offer a completely new transport service for bikes in Europe. We send the bike in advance, the cyclist travels without the bike.

How does this work?

We have a network with hundreds of bike dealers throughout Europe. The cyclist goes to a dealer near his home and gives them his bike. The dealer packs it correctly. From this dealer we send the bike to another dealer in the town where the cyclist wants to start the tour.

The way back is the same. This facilitates biking in Europe enormously. cyclists can now easily reach regions far away.

Best regards

Franz Hitzelsberger

Franz Hitzelsberger, January 05, 2006

Bicycle rental - Dordogne

I have a few bikes for hire in the Perigord Noir region of the Dordogne.

These include touring or mountain bikes, tandems, children's bikes, luggage trailers, tag-alongs and child seats.

I can deliver your order straight to your accommodation, transfer your luggage, and collect and return you to the airport or train station.

Joel Caine, December 22, 2005

Bike boxes, airports Dordogne

Hi,

I've just come back from a great 10 day biking trip around the dordogne, France. I want to share some experiences that could save you some grief. I travelled out from Stanstead to Bergerac airport via Ryan Air. They don't provide boxes and charge £17 extra for a bike. I got a cardboard bike box from my local bike shop and put the bike in the box before setting off to Stansted. I improvised and used an old shopping trolley thing with wheels and put this on one end of the box. This mearnt that instead of it dragging on the floor it was on the wheels. It worked fine. I think if I had the option it would have been better to get someone to take me to the airport as it's quite stressful on trains with people getting on and off.

After checking my bike into the fragile items section, I could now relax, BTW they get you to sign a disclaimer that you agree they don't have to compensate you if it's damaged.

On arrival at Bergerac I was glad to see it was such a small little airfield and just a prefab luggage collection shack. The bike came out fine. I put the bike back together and it was fine. However I was so focussed on the bike that I forgot to think of protecting the panniers I had put into normal luggage. One of the hooks had broken off and was no where to be seen, so in future I'd recommend taping the panniers back to back to protect the hooks.

The whole luggage collection area was soon deserted as I finally got the bike going. When you ride out of Bergerac airport it's almost like your in the countryside and It was a gentle introduction to riding in France.

The other side of the coin though was my return flight from Bordeaux. In a sentence and I'm not exagerating it's a f**king nightmare to take a bike to Bordeaux Merignac airport or go back from Bordeaux Merignac. The reason is it's in the middle of area surrounded by industrial estates and industry and road works and all signs point to the motorway and you don't want to be riding down the motorway unless you've got a death wish. It is possible to get there via Merignac town on 1 road, I finally managed this and that was just a dry run before my flight to find out if I could get a bike box.

Anyway Air France will sell you a sturdy big bike box for 5 euros and 60 cents - Aug 2005 - ask at the ticket desk.

I didn't attempt to go by bike for my flight but instead took a taxi. I didn't fancy a 2nd outing fully loaded with panniers trying to duel it out with great big juggernaut trucks. I would advise going back via Bergerac or a small airport.

Gavin , August 27, 2005

Paris, France (de Gaulle)

My wife and I fly to Charles de Gaulle at least once a year with British Airways from Birmingham. BA usually give us a couple of large plastic bags in which to pack the bikes. They never give any hassle or make extra charges.

At Charles de Gaulle whilst waiting for your bags keep and eye out for the guy who always appears with the bikes.

Leaving Charles de Gaulle on the roads can be a bit frighening but after about five kilometres you are on quiet roads. We normally cycle for about one and a half hours roughly North East to a place called Plailly where we stay at the "Auberge du petit Cheval Blanc" where we are well provided for.

Last year we wanted to cycle around the Somme battlefields and needed to start in Arras. We took the RER train to Gare du Nord (bikes no problem). To get a TGV to Arras we had to get reservations for the bikes and pay about 10 euros. These TGVs (but not all TGVs) have clearly labelled comparments for bikes. There are hooks provided but we just propped the fully laden bikes against the side of the compartment and secured them with elastics.

Most regional trains in Piccardy take bikes which can be useful on a rainy day or when holiday time is running out.

Brian P. Moss, July 26, 2005

Air France –TGV – TRICO Iron Case Reviews

My wife and I did another bike trip in France, this time in Provence. Here are our traveling with our bikes experiences this time, some good, some bad:

Air France: We flew Air France, Miami/CDG then CDG/Nice, then in reverse. Air France was again great on each leg of the trip about the bikes, which were packed in TRICO Iron cases. The bikes arrived in good shape (not the TRICO case as discussed below). In Nice a number of other people checking in had bikes in cases; the Air France check in people were completely blase about the whole thing.

TGV: We took the TGV train from Nice to Avingon and after the bike trip from Avignon to Antibes. The Nice/Avignon trip was uneventful. I put the bike cases in an empty space just inside the passenger compartment side of the sliding doors (no room for the cases in the luggage area). No on said a word to us, including the ticket guy who asked whose bike they were. However, on the Avignon to Antibes trip, the ticket guy made me come to the back of the compartment with him where he told me the bike cases were too big and not permitted on the TGV. I told him that I had taken these cases on TGV only the week before with no problem. As my French was bad and his English only a little better, we had a real communication problem. I did print out the "Train + Velo" page from the SCNF website, but the guy did not care. The discussion escalated as he wanted to charge me 45 euros per case as oversized luggage and I was not happy about that. I asked him what would happen if I refused to pay. "The gendarmes will be called and you will be arrested" was his response. Great. I was able to negotiate him down to 1 case at 45 euros and I did not spend the night in a French jail, much to my wife's relief.

TRICO Iron Case: I was not thrilled with this case, although it did protect both bikes very well. Two of the straps broke on the plane ride over, which, although no affecting the protective integrity of the case, prevented the top shell from form fitting with the bottom shell. Also, my 58 frame just barely fit in the case and my rear derailleur cable ended up getting bent on the trip back, which meant a trip to the bike store to replace the housing mount. I will be e-mailing TRICO with my complaints.

Biking in Provence is amazing and we highly recommend it. We went with Backroads, but there are lots of other companies and plenty of solo riders.

G. Pincus, June 29, 2005

Folders vs Full Size on French trains

You should go the way of the folding bike, before even thinking of ride quality. Here in France the railway network pretends to be "bike
friendly". But studies have been done about what happens when you
actually try to travel on trains with a bike. It turns out that many
routes are not open to you, many trains are not open to you, many
scheduled hours are not open to you. The rules are so unclear that you
will be fined repeatedly or trapped into paying unannounced supplements.

Even the railway attendants and travel agents who sell you your ticket will not be sure about what they are selling you. A trip that may take 3 hours without a bike may take 18 hours when trying to do it entirely legally using only bike-allowing trains.

A folder, on the other hand, can be taken as luggage on any scheduled
train trip. The only limitation you may encounter is that it will indeed have to be folded. Also, you may find that you want to travel next to it in the baggage area of the corridor for fear that someone other than yourself may walk off with it if you leave it unattended.

As for ride quality, I am far more comfortable over distances on my Dahon Impulse P21 than on either of my full sized bikes, and on a recent trip to the Netherlands bitterly regretted not having my folder with me, so painful did I find the provided Gazelle touring bikes in comparison.

Elisa Francesca Roselli
Ile de France

Elisa Francesca Roselli, June 22, 2005

Corsair and air France

I just saw that somebody said that Corsair is a charter operating for Air France. It's not thue. Corsair is a French charter ailine, operating on his own. It has a bad reputation for luggages. Air France is a bit better but the after sale service is very good. They pay all the bills you send to repair a broken bike.

Christophe, June 10, 2005

Air France - good but issues

Just flew Air France from SFO to Paris-CDG and onto Bordeaux, then Barcelona to Paris-CDG and return to SFO. The good news is that the bikes travelled without extra cost and arrived with us in good shape. But we had some issues on both ends.

SFO: Air France at the airport said they did not have any boxes and sent me to the 'Airport Travel Agency' to get them. The 'Airport Travel Agency' at SFO in the International terminal is a service company that boxes items to go on planes and provides other passenger services. They do not have bike boxes. The owner directed me to try Delta an United, trying the baggage service centers of each. Delta had boxes but I had to go up and stand in the ticket line to purchase. The boxes were large - large enough to handle a bike with just bars turned and pedals removed. The Air France agent balked at the size of the boxes and then turned to the agent next to her to ask, in French, how to handle it. He was obnoxious and told her they were too large and we would have to pay a surcharge [why do they think we do not understand them if they speak a language other than English?]. She relayed the information, I balked and sent the issue to the supervisor who said no problem, no charge, all they needed was the weight of each box.

Barcelona: We have an early flight, too early for the train to the airport (only 40 minutes from scheduled arrival of first train to flight departure), but we arrived in Barcelona 3 days ahead of schedule. I called Air France's Spain office and the Barcelona office and got permission to check in the day before the flight. But when we showed up at the airport they refused. Their only options were to try the first train and hope we arrived in time to box the bikes and check-in, or to store the bikes overnight in the storage lockers in Terminal B then taxi out early to box and check-in. Lockers were far too small for a bike. The airline folks at the airport were fairly non-sympathetic and not willing to provide what their office managers had already approved. We had to box at the hotel and get a large taxi to take us and the boxed bikes to the airport.

Rick Warner, June 08, 2005

Fubicy (Train+Bike) France

An excellent source of information provided by the Fédération française des Usagers de la Bicyclette (Fubicy).

Includes such good advice as:
Covers (required on some trains): you will not be able to find covers at the station (neither hire, nor sale, nor loan).
...

the new Highway Code left out all reference to child trailers being allowed [on the roads] since 1998, although they are indeed allowed.
If a policeman fines you for this, do not pay, write to the "Tribunal de Police". See page Législation / Code de la Route of this site for more details.



http://fubicy.org/train/index.html
(French)


http://fubicy.org/train/bike.html
(English)

M.Giroud
FUBicy, french federation of bicycle users

Monique Giroud, FUBicy, April 23, 2005

French Trains -- TGV

(Update of previous information):
The latest issues of the SNCF's TGV timetable leaflets (service from 12 Dec. 2004) include a bike pictogram in the key to the symbols used to indicate the available 'services' at the head of the column for each TGV. However, so far this symbol appears consistently only in the 'North' booklet and in a few individual timetables in the Lyon/Bourgogne/Franche Comté booklet, and the Lausanne/Bern table of the Alps booklet.

Presumably it will appear in the other tables when they are next re-issued. In any case, its presence indicates that at least some of the TGV services in that column have limited space for *undismantled* bikes accompanying passengers; those concerned must reserve the corresponding space (fee currently EUR 10.00) when booking their own travel.

Please note also that similar space is available (under the same conditions) in non-TGV trains consisting of the new "TEOZ" coaches.

Alan REEKIE, February 20, 2005

Regional Travel in Germany/ Web site about European train travel with bikes

European travel by train:

1) If a group of you with or without bikes are going to travel by train in Germany, check out the regional tickets, eg: Baden-Württemberg Ticket, Hessen-Ticket, Bayern-Ticket etc.. These are only valid on local and regional trains, but let up to 5 people travel for about 25 Euro plus 3 Euro a bike.

www.bergstrassebikebooks.com
has more details.

2) The best web site for train info in Europe is www.bahn.co.uk which leads you into the English version of the German Railways site. If you are taking your bike click on bicycle transport required I have the impression however that the info about travelling with a bike for other European railways is not always correct. There seems to be more trains in France, for example, that carry bikes than can be found on the Bahn site. We are working on this problem and will report back.

Bye

Neil Forsyth

Neil Forsyth, February 14, 2005

Self Guided Tours in the Dordogne

Dick & Marilyn Powell of Outfitter Bicycle Tours have created 7 itineraries for cycling the amazing Dordogne region of Southwest France. They offer 5, 6, 7, 10 & 14 day standard options, all of which can be customized to fit your specific needs including meals and level of accommodations. "The Dordogne has some of the finest bicycling in the world and a great spectrum of attractions - and it is also our home, and we know every back road and the very best places to stay and eat" says Dick. The tours are always open May through October. www.DordogneTours.com for details.

Dick Powell, Outfitter Bicycle Tours, February 14, 2005

Air France from Lebanon

Last year, I flew from Beyrut via Paris to Stuttgart. It was kind of last minute. They neither charged me anything nor did I have to put my bike in a box. Just the opposite, I did not have to take off anything or so.
Only the security insisted to deflate the tyres. I promised to do it, but forgot - they did, too.

Katrin, February 01, 2005

French trains: Corail & TGV with bagged bikes

We travelled by train in France in April/May 2004 with two bikes.
We had home-made bike-bags (housses), and took the bagged-bikes on board as carry-on baggage.
We had pre-booked tickets on the Internet, and were not charged for the bikes (since technically they didn't exist, being carry-on baggage).

The first journey was by Corail train from Paris Gare-de-Lyon to Clermont-Ferrand. The schedule showed that this train should have had a baggage-car (fourgon). I had enquired at Gare-de-Lyon a couple of days early about making a reservation for the bikes, and was told that the train would actually not have a fourgon, despite what the schedule indicated. This was in fact the case, and so we couldn't just wheel our assembled bikes on board, but had to bag them in the housses. The baggage-racks at each end of the Corail carriages were closed-off with red tape (security measure), and there was nowhere to put the housses except in the entrance vestibule (somewhat blocking access). The train conductor didn't mind, just wanted to know who they belonged to.

We returned from Montpellier to Paris on a double-decker TGV, with no fourgon. Fortunately the TGV originated in Montpellier, and we were first on, and stored the housses in the mid-carriage luggage area, flat on the floor (with suitcases on top!). No problem.

Our home-made housses were made of rip-stop nylon, with a large zipper-closure, and with a pair of recycled skateboard-wheels attached to the bottom of the front forks. We removed the front-wheel, handlebar and pedals, and tied these to the frame; wrapped and tied the chain/deraillier; lowered the saddle, and inserted into the housse, which measured 135cm x 78cm.

It was relatively easy to roll the bagged-bike along the platforms, with two panniers and one handlebar bag slung together over the other shoulder.

Michael Watson, January 22, 2005

Eurostar with bagged bikes

Travelled by Eurostar London-Paris-London in April/May 2004 with two bikes.

We had home-made bike-bags (housses), and took the bagged-bikes on board as carry-on baggage.
We had pre-booked tickets on the Internet, and were not charged for the bikes (since technically they didn't exist, being carry-on baggage).

At London Waterloo, the bagged-bikes would not fit into the x-ray machine, and so were inspected manually - no-problem.
On the return, at Paris Gare-du-Nord, the same bagged-bikes fitted into the x-ray machine with no problem.

On board the Eurostar trains, there is no baggage car, and there was inadequate space for baggage in the carriages. On the first train, we put our bagged-bikes on some spare seats. On the return, we placed them in the entrance vestibule along with about 5 other large suitcases; this blocked access completely and was clearly a safety problem, but Eurostar appeared not to care!

Our home-made housses were made of rip-stop nylon, with a large zipper-closure, and with a pair of recycled skateboard-wheels attached to the bottom of the front forks. We removed the front-wheel, handlebar and pedals, and tied these to the frame; wrapped and tied the chain/deraillier; lowered the saddle, and inserted into the housse, which measured 135cm x 78cm.

It was relatively easy to roll the bagged-bike along the platforms, with two panniers and one handlebar bag slung together over the other shoulder.

Michael Watson, January 21, 2005

Cycling around Paris

Would like to say first that in two years I returned to Europe with a bycicle in my bags, is that the folding bike is really preferable!

Try to pick full sized wheel ones! It is so much more reassuring to have your bike on your side on a TGV train than having it 10 wagons away !!! Beware!! The train does not stay very long on idle !!!

Good traveling!!

ugo, December 11, 2004

Taking your bike via TGV and Ferry to Corsica

I recently took my road bike for a tour of the south of France and Corsica in March of 2004. I had some interesting experiences while attempting to transport my bike via TGV. I hope some of you find this useful.

I didn't use a bike bag or a housse. I decided to take my hard shell bike box. First of all, TGV trains are set up fairly the same all across France it seemed. At each end of the train look for a room that is actually a small storage room. On that particular train carriage there may even be a bicycle icon on the outside of the train (be forwarned however, that this little bicycle icon is very small).

That would lead one to believe that it's ok to take bicycles but be ready to deal with two different people with usually two different opinions. The first person will probably be a train station employee watching the platforms. This guy told me it was impossible to take my bike on the TGV train (even though my bike was packed away in the box and the train had two storage rooms at either end sporting the bicycle icon outside). The second person was the actual train conductor who rolled his eyes at the platform guy and told me it was ok for my bike just as long as I was riding in the same carriage as the storage room. Pretty typical as it seemed every train official had their own ideas and rules regarding transporting your bike on a TGV train.

So if you are taking your bike and need to travel TGV, look for those storage rooms at the first and last carriage. The doors open just as any other mid carriage doors do, just push the handle. I never attempted to take my fully assembled bike on a TGV but would like to try just to see what would happen. I imagine the old housse rule would apply. Oh yeah and another thing: The ticket agent at any TGV counter will either charge you extra for your bike or tell you that you cannot take your bike period. Again, to each his own it seems.

If you REALLY need to get somewhere fast and you have your bike in its box, I would just recommend showing up at the platform and be Johnny on the Spot when the train arrives because Euro trains have a tendency to stop and then go within minutes. Start looking for either end of the train and store your bike box. The only sketchy thing I found was that if you couldn't sit near where your bike is stored I kept feeling paranoid that someone might decide to wheel my bike off the train without my knowing it.

I guess that's the trade off: Go bike in France and have a great time but go realizing that it's a bit of a headache transporting your bike around especially on TGV. Also know that if you are using a big bike box many conductors might not be sure what the hell is in that huge thing you are rolling or carrying around. I found that when you tell them it's your bicycle and that you are cycling around their country, they seem to light up a little bit and become slightly more helpful.


What else? Don't plan on keeping your bike inside hotel rooms with you. Hotel owners seem like they'd rather have you put your bike in the hotel basement or closet or something like that. Bring a lock.

Corsica Ferries had no problem with my bike. They secured my assembled bike in the auto hold (where all the cars are parked). My bike was leaned up against a wall and secured with a length of rope so it wouldn't tip over during the trip. The charge for my bike was around 10 USD. By the way, Corsica hotels didn't care where I wanted to put my bike. In fact, they prefered that I keep it in the room with me.

So all in all for those of you who choose to use a bike box instead of a housse or bike bag, TGV is certainly the fastest train around to your next destination just be flexible and look for the two rooms on either end of those trains. They'll fit your bike box no problem. I should also add in closing that my last TGV trip was a week after the Madrid train bombings and security to say the least, was elevated.

You may have an easier trip. I hope that some of you find this helpful.

Ryan Peters, November 19, 2004

SNCF brochure about bikes on trains in France

At www.eecs.harvard.edu/~ccshan/bike/sncf/ you will find a scanned brochure from SNCF about bikes on trains in France, in French.

Chung-chieh Shan, August 29, 2004

France, S&S tandems and rail

Found on the Touring mailing list Touring@phred.org

There was some discussion a couple of months back about train travel in France. We just returned from our tour (S&S coupled CoMotion tandem) from Auxerre to Roussillon (Provence) and can give something of an update.

1. In terms of train travel on local trains, we had no problems except that the baggage room is limited so the cases sat in the corridor of the train. No one - other passengers or train officials said anything about this despite the blockage of the corridor.

2. It is a hassle changing trains in many stations, especially mid size ones, in that there is no way except lugging your cases up and down stairs, to get from one platform to another (no elevators or escalators).

3. We also travelled on the TGV, buying first class tickets, which were barely more than regular tickets. All baggage space in first class was accessible and there were absolutely no problems with the cases for the bike. There was also quite a bit of room around our seats as well. We had none of the baggage area problems that had been reported earlier this year.

4. TGV is very convenient as you can catch it right from or to Charles de Gaulle airport at Roissy. If staying at CDG airport it seemed to me that the B&B hotel is the cheapest quoting on the side of the building 38 euros for the night - it looked fine. We stayed at the Campanile (I didn;t know about the B&B) which was 60 euros for the night.

5. I packed using a hardshell for the tandem bike frame (plus bottle cages, seats, seat posts, bars), a soft sided for the wheels (plus shoes, empty front panniers, tools, racks) and a huge kitbag that took the rear panniers with all our clothes plus the rackbag full of stuff as well. Then we had carryon mid sized backpacks each. The hard shell weighed 28kg, and the other two about 22kg each. So we stayed within the 30kg limit of the airlines.

6. At the start of the tour, I assembled the bike and the wheel case and kit bag along with some spare clothes all packed in the hard shell case. We then shipped that case by SERNAM - the French rail shipping company - from Auxerre to the hotel in Roussillon (about 1000km) that we would arrive at 2 weeks later. The cost was 65 euros or about CND$110 for it to be delivered to the door of the hotel. I emailed the hotel warning them that the case was coming. The SERNAM people in Auxerre were extremely helpful - when they realised that we were cycling they said they would hold the case at Auxerre for about 8 days and then ship it so that it arrived just as we did. This avoided any problems in Avignon if the case arrived and the people there in SERNAM were confused about what to do with it.

All in all we only had positive experiences except for some very minor irritations.

People were extremely helpful everywhere.

Bill


Bill and Carlene Mercer , August 20, 2004

Touring Normandy/Brittany France

My wife and I just returned from a self-supported tour through Normandy and Brittany. We travelled west from Le Havre/Honfleur to St. Malo along the coast visiting the D-Day landing beaches. It is beautiful country with excellent roads, wonderful villages, great seafood and friendly people.

I would be happy to share our route/experiences with anyone contemplating a tour in this area.

Kevin MacAfee

Kevin MacAfee, July 28, 2004

Airnmal folding bike

I have just returned from a 1200km trip to Santiago from France with a fully loaded bike camping kit etc. The Airnmal was great -- gave me no problems only one puncture -- what else can you ask for.

Brian

Brian Offord, July 12, 2004

Recent trip to Marseille

My wife and I flew from Boston to Marseille via Paris on Air France in June 2004. We packed our two bikes in Trico hard cases. We have used these Trico cases for five European trips now, and they are excellent.

The bikes were automatically transferred from Paris to Marseille without going through customs in Paris (!). The Trico boxes arrived on the same belt as our two suitcases in Marseille. No damage at all.

The US Transportation Safety Administration opened and inspected the bike boxes after we checked them at Logan airport in Boston. We know this because the inspector left notes inside the boxes. They did confiscate our CO2 cartidges.

We were not asked to pay any fees to ship the bikes on Air France.

We packed a Rhode Gear bike rack that folded flat in one of our two suitcases. At the airport we assembled the bikes, stored the empty bike boxes at Hall 1 in the Marseille airport for a charge of 8.00 Euros/day, and then put the bikes on the back of the rental car using the Rhode Gear rack. By taking a rack with us, we avoided having to rent a much larger car.

Wonderful week of touring Provence, including a climb up Mt. Ventoux.

No problems with the bikes on the return to the US either. The bottom line:

1. Air France did not charge us for shipping the bikes
2. Taking a folding bike rack saved $$$ on the rental car
3. Trico boxes did a good job at protecting the bikes

Stanley Lapidus, July 04, 2004

Flybe

I've just flown from Southampton to Salzburg and Bergerac with Flybe.

I took my bike and Bob trailer and everything went great.

Flybe ask that you take off the pedals, turn the handle bars around and remove the front wheel and attach it to the frame (I would suggest getting a plastic fork brace from your local bike shop so they don’t get damaged).

They charged £10 (15 Euro) for each flight, the Bob trailer went free as normal checked luggage.

David, June 01, 2004

Austria, France Slovenia, Norway

South-west France

Toured in 2002. Easy-going - only problem on ICE trains is that bikes go in a special carriage; nobody at stations knows beforehand where that carriage is which makes it all hectic as French trains don't hang about at stations. And on Fridays, French trains are very crowded.

Austria

Toured in 2003. Bike-aware country, no problems taking bikes on trains. You pay (not a lot) but you get service for your money.

Slovenia

Toured in 2003, from Italian border to Postojna via Bled, Lubljana. Not a lot of cycle-track outside Lubljana, but roads aren't too busy and Slovenes are considerate drivers Bikes on trains OK, but if the timetable says 'yes' to bikes, confirm at the local station because in reality some trains do, some don't.

Norway

Live here (Stavanger). Trains OK (you pay). Drivers OK: the heirarchy here is pedestrians>cyclists>powered vehicles - driver hits pedestrian, he has big-time problems. Plenty of cycle-tracks in towns, both asphalt and compacted gravel "off-road" suitable for city-bikes and kids. Out in the countryside, tracks and their length relate to the amount of cash the the local 'kommune' can afford.

Airlines

We use SAS and KLM, from our local (small) airport. Never any problem with bikes - SAS likes a warning that you're bringing one, but generally both airlines regard a bike as 'checked-luggage' (turn the bars and pedals and de-pressurise the tyres, of course)

Only problem we've had was checking them in at Toulouse; KLM in London said no box needed, but young girl 'handling' for KLM mis-read the rules, wouldn't listen to anybody not even her superiors (could here her phone converstion), just being bloody-minded.

Interesting bit of naughtiness. If you're using LHR, you can check -in for some airlines at Paddington; the checkers-in don't question you, don't weigh what you're checking in ... I've transported some incredible items this way, sorts of things it needs two big strong lads to drag across London. gordon large, May 29, 2004

Nice, France

Although I had to cancel my planned tour through the Alps from Nice to Geneva, I acquired some information about Nice that may be useful to the touring cyclist. This is meant to supplement the excellent information already available here. I also have a mirror of this information (along with my email address) at
www.briandesousa.com/bicycling/touring/alps04.htm


The 1:200,000 orange (formerly yellow) Michelin maps are a vital navigation aid. Maps number 523 (Rhône-Alpes) and number 528 (Provence, Côte d'Azur) cover the area. I found mine in the US at Barnes and Noble bookstores. The guides from OCD cycloclimbing www.ocd.org.uk/guides/index.htm are also a valuable resource, the best I've seen.

I would generally agree with other posters on this forum regarding cycling access to/from Nice airport.

In Nice, I stayed at the Campanile Hotel, which (along with another hotel that I can't remember) can be clearly seen from Terminal 1. They have a free shuttle for airport arrivals. Cycling access would be from the access road right (east) out of Terminal 1, which merges onto the Promenade des Anglais, followed by a U-turn to get back to the hotel. There is also pedestrian access by taking the tunnel under the Promenade des Anglais; follow the signs from Terminal 1. The Ibis Hotel mentioned by another poster is further east on the Promenade des Anglais.

When you're at Nice Airport, be sure to ask for the hotel guide and the youth hostel guide for Cote d'Azur province.

Left luggage at Nice airport is open from 6 AM to 9 PM, not 10 PM as stated on the airport website
"http://www.nice.aeroport.fr/services_en/bagages/">
www.nice.aeroport.fr/services_en/bagages/ When I stopped by to inquire about the hours I saw a Trico Iron Case in storage.

The Lonely Planet France guide lists a bike shop in the center of Nice. I found another bike shop just off N202 north of the airport that was much bigger and was very helpful. Contact information is as follows:

Bouti Cycle Neway

23 bis, avenue Auguste Verola

06200 NICE

+33 (0)4 92 29 10 03

www.neway-nice.com

This Michelin map (at the tinyurl link below) gives the approximate location of the bike shop. If you zoom out a couple of levels, you'll see where the motorway crosses over N202 nearby. There is a road sign on northbound N202 just north of the roundabout that gives closure information for four major passes (Cayolle, Lombarde, Champs, and Bonette) in the area. Of the four passes, only the Col de la Cayolle was open in mid-May 2004.

http://tinyurl.com/2o2kd

Brian DeSousa, May 16, 2004

TGVs are now sealed off for security reasons

TGVs are now sealed off for security reasons (after the Madrid bombing).

I wrote to SNCF last week for confirmation, and just got this reply:

"It is correct that the luggage areas on TGV are not available because of the [anti-terrorism plan].

"For more information about travelling with your bicycle, we invite you to contact our call center Ligne Directe. The phone number is 08.92.35.35.39 from France and 0033.892.35.35.39 from Europe.

"We hope this information will be of assistance."

Robert Chung, April 18, 2004

Velo Loco - Bespoke Cycling Holidays & Bike Rental in France

You want a cycling holiday in France, perhaps the Pyrenees, but the logistics are daunting? Velo Loco helps with transportation, rental of road, recumbent, touring and tandem bikes as well as offering support, accommodation and free advice. Ask us about your next holiday in northern Spain, France and Andorra.

David Sewell, April 13, 2004

Cycle Provence offers unique guided vacations in Provence, France for cyclists and noncyclists

Cycle Provence is a unique company offering cycling tours in Provence, France dedicated to providing a superb travel experience to both the avid rider and the non-cyclist or sometimes cyclist. By staying in the same hotel, a charming small country inn all nine nights of your vacation in Provence each day offers the choice of an exciting bike ride or a four wheel adventures both with bilingual guides, or remaining at our hotel lounging by the pool, walking the canal path to nearby medieval villages, or hiking into the Vaucluse mountains. As part of Cycle Provence's collaboration with Bike Friday we will have a few of their wonderful traveling bicycles available for you to test ride. Of course you can bring your own bike or rent a high quality bike from us.For more information on this bicycle tour in France please log on to our website at www.cycleprovence.com

Bill Dorman, March 15, 2004

Nice, France

We have cycled to and from the airport in Nice, France about 4 years ago, and found it incredibly simple to bicycle out of the airport and directly into Nice. The route was direct and a cycling/jogging path follows the road only 1-2 miles out of the airport. I believe it was about 5 miles total from the airport to town, and the return trip was also easy despite a light rain. At that time, we took British Airways which accepted our bicycles without a box or bag (although we had brought along housses (bags) which we had purchased during an earlier trip .

We had previously always purchased boxes at the airport, but British Airways took them without any box or bag, and they handled the bicycles with utmost care. We were quite pleased to find our cycles in perfect condition on both legs of this trip. Of course, it is always best to box the cycles but we took a chance this trip! I cannot speak from more recent experience, but in the past there has not be a place to store a bike box at airports due to terrorism issues. We were able to store our bike bags at the hotel in Nice.

I strongly recommend a tour of Provence for the people, the food, the scenery, and incredible weather in May! You should have an absolutely wonderful time!! Besides the usual sights (there are a number of books on cycling this region which are helpful), we took a detour to Grasse, then followed the Route de Napoleon, and onto the Gorge du Verdon (a smaller version of our grand canyon which is most memorable). But there is so much this area has to offer!

Leigh Durlacher docdur@juno.com

Leigh Durlacher, March 06, 2004

Nice, France

Traffic on Promenade Anglais (the main road along the shoreline) which you have to ride on to get in/out of the Nice airport can be very heavy during rush hour but the drivers are very courteous so it is not dangerous. We rode our loaded tandem out of Nice last year during the rush hour and it was fine.

As for left luggage, we stayed at the Ibis Hotel near the airport and they didn't really have proper storage for luggage. We end up leaving our S&S cases in the garage w/o any problems. It was reported on tandem@hobbes that the Comfort Inn (?) across from the airport was more left luggage friendly.

If you like mountains, go north. If you like hills, head north-west toward Avignon.

Unless you like the ocean, ride inland and take the tertiary roads for some very nice riding. Good food, nice scenery and friendly people (and dogs), what else could one ask for on tour?

Regards Spencer

Spencer Cheng, March 06, 2004

Taking bike on TGV

Just want to share my experience w/ France TGV, w/ regards to
carrying bike on-board. (the TGVs that do not have separate compartment for carrying bikes intact).

I know the "housse" that one is supposed to use, is more than 100 Euros when bought at a sporting goods stores in France. That's more than most would want to spend and where would one store that once the loaded touring starts?

One option would be to go to a home improvement center like Home Depot
and buy the biggest trash bag they have, should be more than 4 ft x 3 ft (or 120 cm x 90 cm), and will be big enough to hold bike
(the ones I used were actually 55-gallon hazardous waste drum liner, that were more almost 6 ft x 4.5 ft - just fold the remaining spaces over and tape it). It can hold the bike (I used that for the bike and a smaller bag for the two wheels) easily. It doesn't look all that good but it meets the requirement (under 120 x 90) and covers the bike which I think is what they really care about and light enough to carry it w/ you on the tour.

I dis-assembled the bike at the platform just before boarding and put the bike together right after getting off the train, so it doesn't
have to do so much weight-bearing.

I think spending 100+ for "housse" is just too much. Just some
trash bags and roll of packaging tape will be ok.

I used this method on three TGVs (Paris-Bayonne, start of my
Pyrenees ride, Toulouse-Grenoble, start of my Alps ride and
Grenoble back to Paris) No problem. The conductors never said anything.

Chul Lee, February 05, 2004

Nice - Cote d'Azur

June 2003 - Flew bmi Baby (British no frills airline) from East Midlands UK to Nice. Outwards, BMI charged me £10 for carriage.

Homebound had considerable delay as I got the distinct impression the check-in staff at Nice had never carried that kind of freight before. After much discussion they passed me over to outsize baggage with a shrug of the shoulders, saying we have no procedure to charge for this. Pas de probleme!

Richard Newbold, January 25, 2004

TGV

Found on: touring@phred.org

I had the same questions and concerns as you, but ended up not using SERNAM. I had to get from Paris to Rennes and considered SERNAM since I was led to believe you could not take bikes on the TGV without special packing arrangements. Only TGV trains went to Rennes from Paris so I thought I was stuck.

To take bikes on the TGV, I read that you had to disassemble the bike and put it in a housse that could be purchased at a sporting goods store. When I went to buy the TGV tickets to Rennes, the agent at Gare Austerlitz told me I only had to remove the front wheel of the bike to get it on the TGV. I took his word for it and showed up at the Gare on Monday morning.

The conductor looked at my ticket, pointed to the bike, and said housse. I explained in very broken french and gestures that I only had to remove the front wheel. He gave up quickly. He took the bike, with wheels on it, and placed it in a storage area behind he engineer's compartment. (Actually, there were 4 of us and he loaded all 4 bikes).

If you don't want to be separated from your bike by shipping it ahead, look confident, have a ticket, and request that it be put on the TGV garage in the lead car/engine. It worked for me. July 28, 2003.

Bruce Northcutt


From: boyd (boyd@cs.unca.edu)

The problem with this 'solution' is that every time you try it, you are gambling and, when you lose, and you will lose as soon as you come up against a stubborn conductor, it will ruin your day <grin>.

I had a related experience in Italy last summer. I was riding with a
fellow from Munich who 'knew' he could get away with not buying ticket for his bike on a train going to Innsbruck, Austria from Ora, Italy. He left his bike with me outside the station, bought a ticket to Innsbruck, and then we went to the platform that the train was coming in on.

After the train came in, the agent for the office saw my friend with his bike and said something like "get your *** back over here and buy a ticket for that bike." My friend missed his train and had a four hour wait for the next train as a result.

When the TGV conductor won't let you take a bike on his train against the rules, you'll be losing a lot more than four hours finding an alternative way of getting your bike(s) to the your destination. You will probably lose several days. That can really mess up your tour!

If you, by bad luck or bad planning, find yourself in a position where you have to try to break the rules, then I say (and do) go for it. To plan on being able to break the rules is asking for trouble.

Mark http://www.cs.unca.edu/~boyd/bicycling.html


Bruce Northcutt, January 17, 2004

SFO to CDG (Paris) July 2003

Last July I flew to France to watch the TDF, bringing along my bike in a rather large Triall3 bike case (http://www.triall3sports.com/bike.html).

I was flying UA 960 from SFO to CDG and 961 on the return trip. In each direction they asked how many bikes I had in the case (to which I truthfully replied just one!), but didn't charge for it. I found the United check-in people quite friendly and easy to deal with.

HOWEVER... please be advised that you should allow extra time leaving CDG (Paris) for home. CDG is an absolute zoo, with lines going everywhere, and, with complete randomness, the security people pick out victims to open up their bike cases and lay everything (including dirty laundry) out on the floor for all to see. It can be quite a spectacle! Amazingly, despite the huge size of my case, they passed me by.

--Mike--
Chain Reaction Bicycles
www.ChainReaction.com

Mike Jacoubowsky, January 03, 2004

Taking Bike to Europe

Found on: rec.bicycles.misc

I did it 2 weeks ago. I flew West Palm -> Baltimore (South West), 1 day stopover Baltimore -> Iceland (Icelandair) 3 day stopover Iceland-> Denmark (IcelandAir) 1 day stopover Denmark -> Paris (Air France).

I had my bike in a soft case and I used hot water pipe insulation (Home Depot $1.29) around the frame to add protection without adding weight. I stuffed the case with clothes as well. Therefore it was my only piece of checked luggage.

Southwest charged me $40 dollars.

Because it was my only checked luggage, IcelandAir didn't charge extra for it. Ditto for AirFrance (although because I didn't warn them in advance that I was travelling with a bike, they had to check first to see if there was enough space in the plane for it on the flight with me).

Because I made stopovers, I left the bike at BWI for 24 hours in the care of Southwest. They held it for me free of charge, but because of security reasons, I couldn't even touch the case once it came into the baggage claim area.

I had to take the bike with me into Rekyavik on the airport shuttle since there was no place to store it at the Keflavik airport. The guy there suggested I just leave it out at the luggage area for 3 days. He said not to worry about it, I was in Iceland. I almost went for it, but maybe with one of my other bikes...

I checked the bike at the Copenhagen airport for 40DKK ($5) without problems.

All in all no problems. I've always found it easier, cheaper and more hassle free taking a bike on planes in Europe than in the States.

HTH


HTH, December 23, 2003

Into Venice out of Florence

In September 2003, my wife and I flew American Airlines from Chicago O'Hare to Paris DeGaulle on to Venice via Air France. We had boxed the bikes and they were treated as 1 piece of checked luggage for each of us. No fees. No problems.

We returned same airlines from Florence, we accepted a bump in Florence for compensation. Upon return to Chicago, the bikes had not made the correct plane because of our decision to take the bump they got delayed. The next day they were delivered to our home in Milwaukee. Congrats due to American Airlines and Air France. No fees charged and no hassle.

Gary H

Gary H, November 11, 2003

Nice Airport a good place to start a bike trip

Recently concluded a 12 day bike trip in Provence with one other cyclist and had no problems arriving or going home via Nice airport. Access to nearby roadways and accomodations was relatively easy. The left luggage facility, located in Terminal 1, is open and welcoming to bike boxes. Please note: you may arrive at Terminal 2, in which case you can load your luggage onto a free airport shuttle bus for the three minute ride to Terminal 1. Left luggage storage fee is 3.05 euros/day or part thereof regardless of item size and is payable upon item removal. For more information see the airport web site at www.nice.aeroport.fr/services_en/bagages/ .

Worth Remembering: (1) the airport web site indicates that you can leave luggage until 10pm, but signs in front of the left luggage office suggested they closed at 9:30 pm, (2) staff at this office speak only French though they had no problem dealing with English speakers (3) you must show the attendant a passport along with your departing plane ticket or, if using e-tickets, a convincing looking travel itinerary with a clearly readable departure date.

OTHER DETAILS:

Airline - my fellow cyclist and I traveled from Atlanta and Dulles airports in the U.S. on Air France and they did not give us any problems when taking the bikes. The boxes arrived nearly unmarred and the contents remained exactly as they had been packed.

Accomodations - If you arrive without reservations as we did then you can have a room booked for you at the Nice city tourism desk inside Terminal one near the bus pickup/dropoff point. No charge for the service. If you don't want to deal with the congestion of Nice and you have arrived early in the day, head west (follow signs for "Cannes" and "Antibes") out of the airport along the coast road to the less congested and numerous beach resort towns starting with Cagnes Sur Mer.

Bob W, October 19, 2003

Touring website

Travelogue website covering England to Shanghai via Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and China.

Edward Genochio, October 16, 2003

S&S Folding bikes on Air France

We flew from Ohio to Spokane, WA in August, and from Ohio to Madrid, Spain via Newark this September. We have S&S coupled bikes which fit in airline sized cases.

Here are some tips:

1. You have to anticipate that in the US, Homeland Security will open the case for inspection. Therefor, pack your bike as simply as possible, and don't put a lot of junk in the case. You want to make it possible for them to view the contents without unpacking the case. Also, you want to make it easy for them to close the case.

2. I put an 8 1/2 by 11 typed notice in the cases advising them that it was a precision bicycle carefully packed, that it should not be forced to close, and that if they had problems to page me or call me on my cell phone, and I also listed my flight information.

3. On the Madrid trip, I also put a cable tie through the lock hasp so I could tell if the cases had been opened -- they were outbound. The cases were not inspected home bound, nor during our interanl Iberia flight.

4. Generally speaking, subject to change, your bike in an oversize case will fly across the Atlantic as your second piece of luggage at no extra charge -- provided you are within the weight allowances -- Note that 100 pounds appears to be the maximum, but I try to keep the cases as light as possible to avoid the cases being thrown around as much. Check with Air France as to size and weight limitations.

Oliver, September 28, 2003

Local Trains in France and Germany

We had no trouble with bikes on trains in Germany or France this past summer of 2003. We were worried about it, though, because we didn't have bike bags with us like we heard we'd need (not that those would have been real practical with all our panniers and sleeping bags hanging off the bikes.)

We just stuck to the local, or regional trains. In Germany, they wouldn't let us on the super fast trains, but we coped by taking the slower ones. Each station has a chart (the Germans are very well organized about this) that shows the layout of each train, including which car accomodates bikes. There's even a schedule that tells you when the train pulls into the station, and when it pulls out, allowing you your 2 or 5 minutes to scramble on board. That was the biggest stress: could we haul all our bikes and panniers onto the train within the allotted time? We could, but not without a little panic.

In France, there are several kinds of regional trains, it seems. In the Massif Central, little yellow trains had an entire baggage car next to the engine, perfect for lashing a bike or two. But we had some problems buying the right kind of ticket, because in France few people speak English compared to the rest of Western Europe, and the rules are a bit idiosyncratic. Unless your ticket says VELO on it somewhere, you haven't paid to take it along, and someone along the way will notice and give you a hard time. This happened to us twice. We managed to finally be understood, though we got scolded.

French railways also have an odd procedure for validating your train ticket after you buy it, and we couldn't figure out why. After purchase, you must stick it into these little red machines in the train station to have it stamped, or else it isn't any good. This was quite a puzzle to us, because having just paid for the ticket, isn't it already valid? No. And don't ask why. It's because they're French.

Stephen Kling, September 27, 2003

Paris, France (de Gaulle)

In an earlier post I incorrectly identified the canal that I used to get from De Gaulle Airport to Paris as the Canal Du Midi. Oops. It's actually the Ourcq Canal Bike Path. It's a bit tricky to get to the canal but it's worth the trouble. Instruction for doing so are here:

http://www.mayq.com/Cycling_out_of_paris/Airports/Paris_airports.htm#DeGaulle

John Clay

Tallahassee, FL USA

Touring mailing list

John Clay , September 24, 2003

Loire Valley Tour

Found on: touring@phred.org

Hello cycle tourers,

I returned Saturday from a fully loaded cycle tour of the Loire Valley in France.

First of all let me thank all the great people who helped me with the queries I had about campsites, tools bike boxes etc.

Now for the details:

1. Airline: We flew Air India from Newark airport. In the run-up to the flight we received much contrasting information about charges for bikes ranging from $200+ to free. When we presented our bikes at the ehck in desk the clerk said, leave them over there and did not charge us anything. On the flip side at Paris CDG, the desk fuhrer said she was going to charge until we produced an e-mail from AirIndia stating that bikes would be treated as luggage. So hats off to Air India for cheap flights, fast flights (5.5 hours to Paris from Newark), free bike handling and indian food as in-flight catering. And the bonus for weirdo's like me - a Bollywood flick to enjoy during the flight!!!

3. Boxes etc: We cycle/train to Newark airport so require boxes at the airport. Continental has bike boxes but much badgering was required before they would sell us them and then they tried to charge us $40 each - we badgered more and got the price to $20 each. Due to the investment in corrugated cardboard we decided to retain the boxes in France and ship the bikes home in them again (more of this later)

4. Les Trains and Le SERNAM: We took our boxed bikes to Gare Montparnasse the day we arrived. It was a Sunday so we stored them in left luggage. Next day we returned to ship them on SERNAM to Angers for the beginning of our tour. We were told by the helpful desk guy that we should buy our TGV tickets first as our bikes would be cheaper to ship. We did and it was. We arrived in Angers 3 days later and our bikes were there. We reassembled and shipped boxes back to Paris via SERNAM - this was more expensive than shipping them out in the first place but we decided quality of life weighed heavier here. On our return to Paris we went once again to Montparnasse to get the boxesand they were not there. Later they were tracked down to the main SERNAM office in northern Paris. It was indicated that we would have to go get them. We declined and by 6:30 the evening before our departure they arrived!!!

5. Le Camping - picture perfect campsites on the banks of the Loire and on islands in the middle of the Loire. I particularly recommend Camping du Lac de Maine at Angers and the campsites in both Chinon and Saumur, both overlooked by chateaux. The only fly in this particular ointment was that most campsites closed on September 15th - bummer. We had to get a hotel for 3 nights at Blois as the camping had all closed and while the campsite season ends Sept 15th, the hotel season is still high at that time!! But hotels were reasonable enough - we spent 3 nights in Blois for the same amount as you'd get one night in a mid-range hotel in th U.S.!!!

6. The Tour - great routes, great scenery, perfect weather. It is very important to plan short mileage days every day because there is so much to see. This is not a tour for a record breaker or an expeditionist!!!

Now planning begins for next year - Germany or Bulgaria?

Any questions about this, please let me know.

Margaret, NJ


Margaret, September 21, 2003

French Trains -- TGV

Here is a revised version, based on what the SNCF says (in
French):

According to the SNCF's Web page on its "Train+vélo" service at URL:
"http://www.voyages-sncf.com/info_resa/guide_du_voyageur/TrainVelo.htm
">
http://www.voyages-sncf.com/info_resa/guide_du_voyageur/TrainVelo.htm

The general rule is that folded or dismantled bikes enclosed within a
standard protective cover known as a "housse" are carried free on all
trains as passengers' baggage. However, some space for carrying accompanied non-dismantled bikes is now available in a limited number of TGV high-speed trains (in fact, refurbished first-generation TGVs which can be identified by the pictogram of a bike on the end coaches) - at a price (about 60 FRF or 10 Euros) including the compulsory advance reservation (enquire before reserving your TGV journey). At least one such TGV runs daily on the routes:


  • PARIS ARRAS LENS DUNKERQUE
  • PARIS ARRAS DOUAI VALENCIENNES
  • PARIS NICE
  • METZ DIJON MARSEILLE NICE
  • DIJON LYON MONTPELLIER TOULOUSE
  • ROUEN LYON AVIGNON MARSEILLE
  • GENEVE MARSEILLE NICE


    Such TGVs also run on the days shown below on the routes:

  • PARIS VALENCE AVIGNON : Fridays and Sundays towards Avignon;
    Saturdays and Sundays towards Paris.
  • PARIS MONTPELLIER : Mondays, Fridays and Sundays
  • PARIS PERPIGNAN : Fridays
  • PARIS GENEVE : Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays to Genève, daily except Saturdays to Paris
  • MELUN MARSEILLE : Mondays to Fridays
  • GENEVE MONTPELLIER : Fridays and Saturdays

Certain other long-distance trains include limited reservable space for carrying non-dismantled bikes, either in a special coach (identifiable by the bike pictogram) or in a general baggage compartment ("fourgon").


Details are given in the SNCF's leaflet "Train+Vélo", and summarised in the above-mentioned Web page.


Limited non-reservable space for carrying non-dismantled bikes *without charge* is available in most regional trains ("TER services") and on the outer suburban trains and RER around Paris *on weekends and outside the busy period on weekdays*. In all cases the accompanying passenger is responsible for loading/unloading the bike in accordance with advice from SNCF staff, and for ensuring that it is clearly labelled.


Regards,


- Alan (in Brussels)

Alan Reekie, August 26, 2003

EXCELLENT service on Air France checking bike as baggage

On July 28, 2003, I flew from Florence, Italy (FLR) through Paris (CDG) to Washington Dulles (IAD) with my Fondriest road bike packed up nicely in a cardboard box. Tires deflated, pedals detached. I had not one single problem at the Florence airport or upon return to the states. Air France didn't charge me a cent, as the box was checked with one additional piece of baggage. I should note that my bike is light - with packaging it weighed in at 14 kilos, so this may have helped matters.

All in all - hooray for Air France for ease and lack of charges!! Why can't all airlines be like this?

Christina Villafana, August 02, 2003

French Trains

I've read here about how some French trains will take unboxed (or unbagged) bikes and some won't. The local printed schedule shows a bike symbol next to trains that let you take assembled bikes. But I was interested in having the flexibility to go on more trains than those locals, so I investigated getting a "housse" or bag for bikes
as required by French trains to carry partly-disassembled bikes onto almost all trains.

The "standard" Housse available in France, I was told, weighed about 4 pounds and wouldn't pack into a pannier. I looked at buying
similar products here, but they were all too bulky and too sturdy. All I needed was a bag to carry the bike in on trains; if it didn't make it back with me, that was O.K. as long as it got me onto French trains. I came across a very inexpensive woven plastic tarp, 5 feet by 7 feet, with a pre-fabricated one inch margin and grommet holes
on each edge. I realized that just folding this in half and sewing the 1 inch stiff hems together would give me a bag just under 5 feet by just over 3 feet, close enough, I thought, to get the bike on a train.

So I spent half an hour sewing the margins up, and adding velcro closure along both sides of the 'top' of the bag. I didn't even
bother to make a carrying strap; I already had a luggage strap I could just attach to the bike frame to carry it. So I bought a couple of small backpack straps to attach the luggage strap to the frame, took both wheels off and put them next to frame, took pedals off and put in bottom of bag, took handlebars off and bungee corded them
to wheels and frame, attached my luggage cord to top tube, and walked onto the train platform.

Nobody gave me any problems; the bag went on two trains without incident. It only weighs maybe 8 ounces, and packs into a small stuff sack. It's not heavy-duty, but for "emergency" train use, it was more than sufficient. I can't guarantee that this will work but I can say it worked for me on this trip, and I'll take the home-made "housse" along on future trips. (I typically have enough time so that even if someone stopped me from using it, I could arrange some alternative.

If you have to have a guarantee of 100% reliability, this might not be the best option. But it worked for me well enough that I'll continue to take it and I expect not to have problems.) I did NOT try this on a "fast" TGV train, but I did use it on two trains that did not otherwise allow bikes.

John Wager, July 27, 2003

American Airlines/TGV Trains in France

I took my bike box to paris on American Airlines then got on the TGV train from Paris to Bordeaux. In the Paris train station the SNCF man told me that the conductor would not allow my bike box on the TGV. However the TGV conductor actually helped me put my bike box on the train. No problems in anyway. Same returning from Grenoble to paris. No problems.

Lowell Bethel, July 26, 2003

Belgian Rail

The situation in Belgium

Belgian Railways have issued a leaflet in French and Dutch explaining what services are available for passengers wanting to take their bike with them on the train. For journeys wholly within Belgium, a flat fare of EUR 4.10 (EUR 7.90 for a tandem) applies per bike per single journey. A ticket entitling the holder to several such journeys *the same day* is available for EUR 6.90 (EUR 14.10 for a tandem). These tickets, which are valid two months after issue, can be bought from any staffed station before starting the journey (the price is EUR 2.30 higher if you buy the ticket on board the train, except where the station of boarding is then unstaffed).

Before departure, you must fill in the details (date, stations of departure and arrival) on the ticket and attach the tear-off part to the bike. You are responsible for getting the bike into the baggage-van (known in French as a 'fourgon - usually a small area of a passenger vehicle, which in some cases is identified by an outline drawing of a bike with a big label) and getting it off again as required, but the 'chef de train/treinwachter' will probably offer to help you. For international journeys, eg to France, by NON-TGV trains, similar arrangements apply, but the price is higher.

In the last few years, the Belgian Railways tariffs have been changed to discriminate heavily against short-distance cross-border travel, and many local trains providing these services have been withdrawn. So, an alternative possibility for people wishing to take their bike with them on the train between Paris and Brussels consists of journeys wholly within France and Belgium, linked by a short bike ride across the border. Several conventional trains conveying accompanied bikes run daily between Paris Gare du Nord and Maubeuge, which is about an hour's bike ride from the nearest stations in Belgium, Quévy (near the village of Aulnois) and Erquelinnes (on the border near Jeumont), both of which have hourly-interval services on weekdays, but on Saturdays and Sundays only the latter has trains, every two hours. Check the schedules on-line at URLs: www.sncf.fr and www.b-rail.be

On the Brussels Metro, cyclists can take their bikes with them in the end vestibules at no extra charge after the evening rush hour on weekdays, and on weekends, provided they hold a permit issued by the STIB/MIVB ( www.stib.be )

Alan Reekie, July 13, 2003

Tandem on Lufthansa

Recently travelled from SFO to Toulouse with tandem in soft BikePro case. Lufthansa did not want to allow us to bring bike on board, as they deemed it over-weight. Bike was only item in the case. We patiently and politely waited as they discussed what to do. Eventually they allowed the bike to get checked for an additional $127. (Note: Air France for return trip did not charge any additional fees). Bike did arrive in perfect condition and on time.

Christine, July 04, 2003

Air France

Recently returned from France with tandem in soft BikePro case. No extra charges (Lufthansa had charged us $127 from SFO to Toulouse). They did not measure or weigh the case - simply asked me to estimate its weight.

Christine, July 03, 2003

Miami to Paris and back via Air France

My wife and I just returned from a 2 week trip to France, flying on Air France from Miami, Florida to CDG. We did a 9 day bike trip with Backroads through Brittany and Normandy. We were traveling with 2 road bikes, packed in Sci-Con 52 Aerotech soft sides rolling bags.

Air France had advised that, despite their published luggage size/weight restrictions, they would treat each bike case as one of the 2 checkable pieces of luggage per passenger Air France permits. Checking in at Miami International was pretty much a breeze. The check-in lady tried to charge me for oversize luggage, but backed off when I reminded her of Air France?s policy for properly packed bikes. The bikes were tagged to go in the fragile luggage compartment. The TSA Security guys were pretty nice in going through the bike bags and even let me double check to make sure that the bikes were properly mounted on the frames after the inspection.

At CDG luggage claim, the bikes were brought out by a porter; they did not come out on the regular luggage carousel. I opened each case to inspect the bikes. Thankfully, there was no damage to the bikes.

We trekked through CDG to the TGV train station to catch our train to Rennes. We got on the train, put the bikes in the luggage storage area at the end of our train car, locked the cases to the rail and that was it. No one said a word to us about the bikes at all.

Our return trip on the train and Air France was exactly the same. Except for the fact that we caused a little bit of a spectacle wheeling these big red cases around, it was extremely easy to travel with our bikes and a total pleasure to be able to ride our own bikes on our bike trip.

The Sci-Con cases worked very well. It was easy enough to take off the wheels, mount the bike on the adjustable frame, lash the wheels to the frame and zip up. Not having to pull the seatpost or the stem was really nice. On the way home, we stuffed all of our sweaty bike clothing, shoes and Camel Backs into the cases with no problem.

G. Pincus, July 01, 2003

BikeFriday since 9/11

In May 2002 I was Ride Director for a Bicycle Adventure Club ride in Holland. We had 71 participants (2 non-bikers) on three barges of Bike & Barge, Holland. Of those, there were 14 BFs, one a Tendem. I had suggested that each person with a BF case indicate to Security at various airports around the country that IT was a piece of excercise equipment. On arriving in Amsterdam, no reports were received of trouble . I cannot speak for return trips. But there must have been dozens of airlines and airports represented on this trip.
Frankly, I have literally been all-over the world with my BF on 24 trips, and the only complaint I have is that someone once stole the extra-safety belt around the Carlton case, and another time something punctured the case - no real damage. Otherwise, TROUBLE FREE

Wes Conner, June 03, 2003

Shipping Services, Worldwide

Hi folks,

From Chile and to Chile, Also to Bolivia, or through my Agents in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Perú, etc. I can help you Shipping your staf worldwide. If your comming to Chile on tours, Biking, etc. Just e-mail me, I was a Traveller and have helped friend from USA, Australia, New Zealand shipping their bikes, etc.

Francisco Herrera Barnachea, May 27, 2003

Folding Bikes in the Loire Valley

Folding Bikes in the Loire http://www.gfarnsworth.com/Famazine/BikeTrips.cfm

George Farnsworth, May 24, 2003

Link may solve many biking in Paris problems

This link may solve many biking in Paris etc problems...

http://www.mayq.com/

Good luck with your trip, Biff!

Eva

Q. May, April 23, 2003

Bike Friday on Trains

In the Summer of '01, three couples took our Twosdays to Provence via TVG from Charles De Gaul in Paris and back to a central station. Its been my only experience with the (cased) bikes on trains.

We had no problem as there was a storage area within sight (as I recall) in the front of the car. So we had six Carltons and six soft bags in that storage. Things may have changed since the world is a bit more security conscious, but it wasn't a problem then. I might also mention that our trains were very sparsely occupied and we weren't competing for that space. I don't think you will get them overhead.

JWG

John W. Griswold, April 16, 2003

French Trains -- TGV

Here is a recent response (April, 2003) from SCNF when asked about bikes on TGV Trains:

Dear sir or madam

In reply to your email, please find the following information.

You may take your cycle in the TGV luggage stacks and on the wide vestibules of corail coaches. These mesures apply to cycles which can be folded up or placed with their wheels removed in specials covers(120x90 cm maximum). You can purchase such covers from specialized shops.

If you are uncertain about the appropriate location, please ask train commercial staff for advice.

The train marked with a symbol (bike) in the SNCF timetables for domestic services or in the « ville à ville » carry accompanied cycles free of charge. However,you will have to load/unload it yourself and you will remain responsible for it at all time.

On some trains(especially regional trains) the capacity of the luggage-van is restricted to 3 cycles.

Your faithfully.

G. Pincus, April 10, 2003

Munich, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona

(MikesBikeTours.Com)
Cruise the streets of Munich in ultimate style on an exclusive Beach Cruiser, with big fat cushy seats!
The price to rent is 10Euros per day and everyone speaks English. They also give bike tours in English that include a trip to a fav. beergarden. They have a wonderful group of people with lots of good energy.

noelle, March 26, 2003

Air France

I flew Air France to Europe last summer with my bike in a Performance hard shell case. I was not charged extra, though on the return from Charles de Gaulle airport I was taken out of the boarding line and accompanied by a charming attendent down to the baggage area, where I had to unlock the box and remove the bike for inspection - the box didn't fit into X-ray machine.
JAZ

JAZ, March 24, 2003

Roobsta Offroad Cycle Touring Alps & Pyrenees

Difficult offroad routes through the Alps and Pyrenees crossing France/Spain/Andorra and France/Italy/Switzerland/Germany borders

Roobsta, February 13, 2003

Travel on French trains (incl.TGV)

I was in France for the summer of 2002, and travelled on trains, including the TGV. First, the information you get is not centralized, and not consistent. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes this is bad. I did go on the TGV for one trip, and it entailed booking a trip, and adding a few Euros for the bike. It turned out to be relatively easy. I just had to carry my bike and all luggage on at the station, and wedge my bike into the luggage compartment. There was one other cyclist on the same train, and it worked fine for the two of us.

On the local trains (RER), the situation varied depending on the Province. In Languedoc, any train was fair game, and I just had to jump on with my bike and leave my bike in the door area at the front of the train. In the Jura, they had just about the same system. From Besancon to Dijon they had a luggage car with bike hooks, and I was whisked onto the train with the helping hands of many train employees. From Dijon to Paris, I took the RER, with a connection (I forget where, but it was an uninspiring place). THe first train was a slick modern train, with a scheduled bike car that had a nice hook area. The second train on that journey, although a designated bicycle train, had no facilities for them, and turned out to be the most trouble of any of my trips. I was forced to wait for a few hours for the connection (in the afformentioned uninspiring town-even the ride I took there while waiting was boring) and then got on a train with no facilities, with the conductors confused and unhelpful about bikes, arriving in Paris during the peak travel time, which meant that there were a lot of commuters. This seemed like bad planning, and my instinct tells me I would have been better off with the earlier train that was not a designated bike train, seeing as the conductors were confused anyway, and most likely wouldn't have kicked me and my bike off.

Overall, the train makes a great companion to bicycle touring in France. It is not that difficult to use, innexpensive, and the worst attitude I had from many conductors was one of indifference, with many of the SNCF employees being helpful and pleasant. It does entail a bit of planning, and some waiting, but if you're bike touring, well, planning should not be a big impediment.

Whitfit, December 02, 2002

French Trains -- TGV

Found on: rec.bicycles.rides

FYI : A number of TGVs now have a special bike area. You have to book in advance, cost is 10E. Any train station in France will have the info and make the reservation. Much easier than the bag stuff -- you have to remove the wheels, fenders, etc 'cause the bag is small.

To buy the "hause" or bike cover: many bike shops on the Avenue de la grande armée. You can also look up Décathlon on the phone book. Or ask on fr-rec.bicycle.

AG

No email address, November 09, 2002

France -- Toulouse, etc.

> These people rent bikes with delivery and pickup all over France: > http://www.terroirs-b.com/br/index.htm > I used them 4 or 5 years ago and it worked out very well.

I also had a good experience with this group in 2001. They delivered a bike to our hotel in Toulouse and picked it up 3 weeks later at a different hotel. I was not actually present at either delivery (out of the hotel having lunch) or pickup (which occurred after I left for the airport).

John Moulder, October 28, 2002

Ryanair

July 2002 flights.

Stansted to Biarritz and Perpignan to Stansted. Two bikes both ways. £15 charges paid in advance. handlebars turned, pedals removed, tyres deflated. Gears wrapped in bubble wrap on outward journey (not on return).

Very satisfied customers. Biarritz was excellent , bikes brought out before any other luggage. Stansted - no problems.

Will explore other destinations with Ryan to take bikes on a trip.

Roger Cortis, August 21, 2002

Tours in France, Norway, Italy, Austria, Spain, Chile, and the Easter Islands.

Hi,

My name is Dainius Lukosevicius, I am the managing director at Brindisi Biking and Hiking. We provide guided biking and hiking tours in France, Norway and will add Italy (Tuscany in 2003), Austria, Spain, Chile, and the Easter Islands.

You may call me toll free in North America. 1 888 849 9474, 1 514 849 1187 You may view our site at http://www.brindisi.ca

Regards....Dainius

Dainius Lukosevicius, August 19, 2002

American Airlines

Found on: eurobike@eGroups.com

A couple of months ago, I brought up the question of shipping bicycles as luggage on international flights. I now have just gone through the experience and was amazed on how wonderfully it worked on American Airlines.

In late June my wife and I brought our panniers and 2 bikes to Logan Airport already boxed, the boxes supplied by the airline for NOTHING! We had no hassle with employees, and the bikes showed up next morning at Charles DeGaulle with nary a scratch.

Auto Europe had a Renault Scenic waiting for us at the airport, and thus we emptied the boxes and put the bikes right into the hatchback. (At first the Auto Europe clerk tried to stick us with a smaller car, but we insisted on the larger model we had arranged for months before.)

We then had a marvelous trip through parts of the Auverne and Provence. Saw the Tour de France in the Vaucluse and ate marvelously.

The Return trip: We drove up to the Paris airport a month later in plenty of time to box our machines. No problem. An already made-up box was sitting just in front of the AA counters, someone's discard that morning; it received double use. I asked for another box from the AA clerk, who came up with a box (from the defunct TWA plastered on the sides), within 10 minutes, also no charge.

The supervisor was very helpful in handing out receipts for the boxes for customs, and even helped us put them through the luggage coveyor belt. Upon arrival in Boston, the boxes were a little beat up, but they had protected the bikes and within an hour we were home with the luggage, very relieved.

Arthur J. Weitzman

Arthur Weitzman, August 13, 2002

France, cycling and trains

Travelled with a party of ten, including six children. Hectic but for the most part OK on the train. No requirement for boxes or bags, loaded on with full panniers. Some problems with getting all the bikes on in the short time allotted. No extra charge on those trains designated for bikes (including TGV).
At the end of our trip we took the train from Paris to Zurich. Controller helped us load bikes into the baggage car. Overnight train. In the morning at Zurich there was no baggage car. Half the train had been disconnected in Basel and sent back to Paris. We are still looking for the bikes and all the gear (fully loaded) that was on them. It seems nobody in France knows anything. Zurich knows the baggage car is not in Suisse. We are told it is our responsibility to unload the bikes from the train. My response is that I would be happy to, if the baggage car was still attached. This, of course, rather colors my perceptions of the French train system.
Update: The bikes have now arrived. Appear OK. Missing one tent and two sleeping bags. They came off two separate bikes, one of the bikes was very well secured, the other bike was possible for an item to come loose. We'll see.

Doug, August 05, 2002

deflated, inflated, boxed, whatever

Also on the Pyrenees tour, each of us called Air France customer service and got various stories about how to pack the bikes (boxed, no box and tires inflated, handlebars sideways, pedals off), whether or not we needed to make a "reservation" for the bicycle (the plane to Biarritz was relatively small) and whether we could get a box from Air France in Barcelona.

To be on the safe side we got boxes from a bicycle store in Barcelona. We took public transportation to the airport, which was not easy since there are a lot of stairs in the metro.

April Chung, June 18, 2002

Air France misroutes bikes

Two friends and I recently completed Pyrenees bike tour from Biarritz to Barcelona, flying into Biarritz from Paris on Air France. Air France misrouted two of three bikes, making us lose 1.5 days.

Biarritz luggage guy was totally clueless where the bikes went, having us return to airport twice a day until he finally reported they were sent to BALBOA! His explanation was that Biarritz call is BAQ whereas Balboa is BAO, so luggage often goes there by mistake.

He paid us around 100 Euros each for extra hotel night. What really annoyed me was his total inability to know where the bikes were for the first 24 hours after we initially landed in Biarritz.

Evan Tick, June 17, 2002

French Trains

Found on: rec.bicycles.rides

I just spent 3 wks in May in Dordogne and Normandy biking. Didn't see anything about the changes.

Took the bike on CORAIL 3 times (has place for six bikes in the bike compartment) and on the regional TER (three bikes) three times. No problem.

When I was coming back to Paris from Normandy (my third wk in France) there were no bike carrying train during the weekdays but talked to the controller on the platform and they let me put it, fully assembled, in the last car of the CORAIL from Cherbourg to Paris b/c it was not that busy. That might be different for July though. But he said if the train is not bike-carrying train, the bikes are always allowed on CORAIL if they are disassembled and in une housse.

I found it helpful to talk to the controllers on the platform rather than the ticker seller or the information desk people. When I was coming back from Toulouse to Paris I bought ticket that was shown on the printed sked. as bike carrying. The ticket seller's computer said no and he said I had to wait 6 hrs for the bike-carrying (I even showed him the printed sked. he didn't care) Went out to the platform and the controller knew right away that it was a bike carrier. The ticker seller also said bikes in housse is allowed only on TGV not on CORAIL but every conductor/controller I talked to said it is allowed..

Had a brochure for sending the bike ahead of you but threw that away now. I think you need two days.


Chul Lee, June 04, 2002

Storage for bike box in Lyon, France

Found on: rec.bicycles.rides

If the website is up to date (http://www.lyon.aeroport.fr/index.htm) the storage area is closed in Lyon; no reopening is to be expected soon. Actually, it's standard policy in French international airports due to the risk of terrorist bombing. The decision was taken long before sept. 11, as we have our own little problems with supposedly Algerian Islamic groups.

Don't worry though, things are rather quiet now, and have been for the last few years.

Happy stay in France,
Jean-Pierre
--
LORIA - Université Henri Poincaré
BP 239
54506 Vand¦uvre-lès-Nancy


Jean-Pierre Jacquot, May 12, 2002

KLM Bike Transport guidelines 2002

Before my trip to Paris from Vancouver, BC (Canada) I contacted KLM/Northwest Airlines regarding Bike transportation and the following is what they sent me:

NWA/KLM/CO accepts non-motorized single seat bicycle/tricycle as checked luggage for a fee. Handlebars must be fixed sideways and pedals removed
or wrapped with protective packing material. Bikes should be placed in a bike box. When packed in other than a bike box, a Limited Liability
Release form must be signed.

Domestic Bike Charges:
One way transportation fee per bike - up to 100 lbs.
U.S./Canada/Mexico/Caribbean
1 - 6 BIKES $80.00 USD/115.00 CAD EACH
7 OR MORE BIKES $180.00 USD/261.00 CAD EACH
**Bikes over 100 lbs. must be sent as airfreight.

Bike Box Charges:
$15.00 USD plus tax at NWA Airports
$30.00 NLG plus tax at KLM Airports

Bike box Dimensions: 69 x 40 x 9 inches (175 X 85.5 X
21.5 centimeters)
Bicycle boxes can be purchased at NWA/KLM ticket counters and are available in limited quantities on a first-come, first-served basis.

Bicycle boxes - passengers own:
KLM/NWA accepts hard-shell bicycle cases. Standard bike size case requires applicable domestic/ international transportation charge.

International Bike Charges:
Included in free allowance - no charge.

Thank you for writing. We appreciate the opportunity to answer your questions. We hope to have the privilege of serving your future travel
needs. You will find answers to many frequently asked questions by visiting our Help sections at http://www.nwa.com/help/index.html.

Ednoi, February 18, 2002

Biking in France, Germany & Italy

Toured Germany, Italy and France in Spring of 2000. Was a perfect time. Found Germany to be most easy in terms of bikes on trains. We only transfered in Italy, so I am not familiar with their policies. But France, it appeared that you could only take bikes on the later running trains, which made it difficult for us relying on camping (and being able to arrive at the campsite before it was locked up).
We kept our bikes in our boxes (from the plane) on the local train between Frankfurt and Heidelburg. I am not sure it was acceptable, but we did it anyway. And from Munich to Milan, we had no trouble. There was a specific bike car inwhich our bikes, fully set-up could be kept.
I'd like to know more about the person who says they just pay the fine instead of using the fancy "Housse" for French trains.

Bean, February 18, 2002

French trains

Found on: rec.bicycles.rides

I took a bicycle on a number of French trains last summer (2001), and here's what I learned:

1. If you want to carry your bike on a TGV train, it must be in a container of a specified size. The container can be cloth, but it must meet certain size restrictions that are on the SNCF website. It's really hard to break down a touring bike to a small enough size to meet these size restrictions. I used a standard retail shop bike box and it was too big, but after abusing me in French the conductor let me stay on the train (at least I think he was abusing me, my French isn't very good).

2. A lot of slower regional trains in France have provisions for carrying the intact, unboxed bike in the baggage car. This is great for shorter trips, but if you're covering long distances it can be very difficult to find trains that will get you where you're going. When I took a train from Paris to Strasbourg the only train that accepted bikes turned out to be an Austrian train that ran from Paris to Vienna once a day.

3. I've heard rumors that a few TGV trains will accept unboxed, assembled bicycles.

4. The SNCF website has a really good trip planner (in English, French, and a few other languages) that will allow you to put together an itinerary using only trains that accept bicycles. Good luck, and I hope this is of some use.

-- mark

Mark Felber, February 15, 2002

French trains

Found on: touring@phred.org

I'd like to share my experience in taking bicycles in French trains. While working in Paris last fall, I was free one weekend and decide to spend it touring. So I went on the SNCF Web site and found the page where they list all the trains that can carry bicycles. I chose to go to the Southern Alps by taking the Paris-Briancon night train on Friday and coming back with the Sunday night train, just in time to take a shower and get to work on the Monday morning.

The train had a dedicated car for bicycles. You just put it in there, lock it and get to your seat. Everything went well except that the bicycle I had borrowed from a colleague was vandalized on my way to the Alps. I ended up in Briancon with a tacoed rear wheel, smashed reflectors and a frame generously coated with Coke. Most likely, the vandals got in the train when it stopped in Lyon.

I was fortunate enough to find a bike shop that could fix it right away, so I only lost half a day of my weekend. I had a wonderful time in the area - the mountain scenery is simply gorgeous and I had a good time climbing a fantastic pass that is part of the Tour de France. I had no problem with the train on my way back to Paris.

I wouldn't use these trains again for carrying my bicycle unless the train is not stopping in big cities, especially cities like Lyon known for their high crime rate.

My girlfriend and I also took the TGV twice with our tandem but we were carrying it with us in two (huge) suitcases, thanks to our S&S couplers. We were also carrying our camping gear in the suitcases.

Patrick Laniel
Montreal, QC
Canada

Patrick Laniel, January 08, 2002

Getting bicycles on train in France

I read many outdated informations about getting bicycles on train in France.

I first sneaked my bike on a train in France in 1992, but now I transport it with less worries.

The SNCF (French Co. train) has made life much easier for the cyclists.

There is an interesting little 31 page brochure called Train+Velo,which you can get at a train station telling you how to transport your bike on a train.

Now you are permitted to put your bike on a TGV(fast speed train), FREE of charge.They say that the bike has to be placed with their wheels removed in special covers (120 by 90cm max) in the luggage stacks.

I took the train 4 times with my bike and here is a little trick. For the cover I took a contour bedsheet, removed the front wheel,turned the handle bars and pedals, wrapped the bike secured with safety pins, voila. It is very easy and all legal.

At the back of every wagon of the TGV there is a space for big pieces of luggage, this is where you store your bike.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Bon voyage.


Pierre Carriere

Pierre Carriere, December 18, 2001

Air France Damage Indifference Havana-Manchester

Flew 2 bikes from Havana to Manchester via Paris. Not boxed but well padded, as per AF's instructions.

Handlebars of one bike were badly bent, as if crushed. Air France agents (Servisair) refused to even give us the paperwork to make a claim as they said the bike was improperly packaged.

Bar ends and pedals were missing - presumed stolen as they were well secured. Servisair said it was nothing to do with them and to contact the police.

Sam Marshall, December 09, 2001

Airport searches after 9-11

Found on yak@list.greengear.com

On September 11 my wife and I were in France with our new Bike Friday Tandem Traveler. When we returned to the US on the 27th security was very tight, but nobody questioned the two large Carlton cases. Upon arrival at San Diego neither case showed any signs of entry.

Kerry Kunsman San Diego, Ca '01 Tandem Traveler XL

Kerry Kunsman, October 23, 2001

Paris, France (de Gaulle)

Dear George,

My new email address is burke@noos.fr The new URL is http://www.insiderparisguides.com/parisbiking/index.html

Did you think of riding just one stop on the RER train to Parc des Expositions? That will put you near Tremblay. From there take the D83 towards Meaux. The D-roads are fairly quiet -- great for cyclists.

Whether you decide on this route or go straight out of the airport, have a good map. I would recommend IGN (Institut Geographic National) 3615, 90 Circuits Cyclos en Ile de France. The airport roads are clearly marked on this one. IGN has a Web site at www.ign.fr. (It's in French but you can make out what you need from context.) Good luck, tell me how it goes,

Best, Rose Burke, your biker in Paris

Rose Burke, October 22, 2001

Vacation B&B -- France

We run a vacation rental house in the Languedoc region of southern France. We don't seem to need the business - we're doing really well - but we'd love to have more cyclists staying here. If it works in with your site, perhaps you could show a link to ours - and perhaps you could have a look at our website to make sure that I've given the right information. It's on the page entitled 'Getting here'. You should be able to access our site by clicking on the URL at the bottom of this message.

Take care, Susan
--
Susan and Tim Wallis
19, Route de Mailhac
34210 Oupia FRANCE
tel from Canada: 011.334.68.91.12.69
within France: 04.68.91.12.69
fax from Canada: 011.334.68.91.10.32
within France: 04.68.91.10.32
Website: http://www.lourecantou.com


Susan Wallis, August 06, 2001

Cross-Channel Ferries

George, some info on my last trip

Summer 2001 SeaFrance offer frequent sailings from Dover to Calais. If you can book when they have an offer on it can be quite cheap We paid £17.50 return. Bikes are carried for free and if you have a 5 day return you can get any sailings in that period. Quite useful. As with every ferry I've taken my bike on your bike is just locked to whatever is convenient so if it's your pride and joy you would need to protect it against scratching though I would imagine that scratching is the worst thing that could happen.

Also Calais Youth Hostel is modern, well equipped and allow you to take your bikes up to your room at night. Approx £8 inc. breakfast.

Regards

Les (from the Eurobike list)

Les Roberts, August 05, 2001

Camping tour of Provence and the French Riviera

George:

We have just posted a wonderful site dedicated to our recent self-contained bicycle camping tour of Provence and the French Riviera. We would be delighted if you would include a link to us in your tour reports section.

Our site is at http://www.teamsnail.com.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Thanks in advance.

Jeff in Chicago.




Jeffrey H. Dean, July 07, 2001

Don't use the carry on method!

I read a post here that suggested to take the bike apart and take the frame on the plane and put it in the overhead bin. The rest of the bike you put in a frame box which you check.

I have a titanium frame, so to go through the effort of taking the bike apart to protect the frame made sense to me. I traveled to France on Air France (which sucks in general) and everything was fine. On the way back, the unexpected happened.

When I walked through the metal detector at the airport and put the frame through the scanner, the security personnel told me I need to check the 'bike'. Even after a big fight, they would not let me take it as hand luggage. They made me box the frame in a flimsy box and check it. They then lost the box... and it took a lot of effort, phone calls, and nervous waiting to get it back.

So - I do not recommend this method!

Tim Nilson, May 18, 2001

Bikes on French Trains

The French railway (SNCF) schedule site at http://www.sncf.com/index.htm (English option on home page) does not have an option to select only trains that carry bikes, as do the German and Swiss web sites, so I sent them an inquiry. The following is my translation of what the SNCF sent me on their current (May, 2001) policy on taking bikes on trains (the notes in [brackets] are my added remarks]:

To transport your bicycle by train on our network (SNCF) you have two options:

1) You can check your bike. This service functions only between rail stops with a Sernam depot. [Sernam is the trucking company that handles checked baggage for the SNCF.]

The SNCF guarantees you a delivery period: You can claim your bike the second day after the day you send it. The fee for checking it is 195FF [roughly US$28]. Phone in France: 0 803 845 845

2) You can take your bike free as carry-on [self-loaded] baggage.

On the TGV and Corail trains, bikes are placed in bike racks on the TGV, and in open areas of the Corail cars. Bikes must be placed, either partially collapsed/disassembled or with the wheels removed, in a special soft case or bag ["housse" in French] measuring no more than 120X90 cm [47"X35-1/2"]. [This usually requires that the wheels be removed and the handlebar turned, and possibly the seat lowered but not removed.]

You can obtain this type of bag in specialty shops. [These can be quite expensive and bulky, but some people have found low-cost versions or have improvised using heavy plastic trash or trash-compacter bags.]

On certain Grandes Lignes trains and on many regional trains, you can carry your bike on free, placing it in the baggage compartment of the train. Handling the bike is your responsibility. These trains are marked in our printed schedules.

Currently on our web site, you can access our schedules and our prices. In these schedules, regional trains and others on which you can carry bikes free as baggage are labeled "transport de velo" (bikes carried). [The home page at http://www.sncf.com/index.htm has an option to view the site in English.]

To access the price for the next two months, choose the version "reservations et prix" (reservations and prices). For schedules through Nov. 30, 2001, ask for "horaires" (schedules).

Tom Webb, May 04, 2001

French Trains

Found on: touring@phred.org

Have you ever seen one of the bike bags (housses) they are talking about? What does it weigh (if you want to keep it and carry it on your bike), and about how much do they cost?

Yes, I happen to have one. It weights nothing, can contain a big bike without taking the handlebar off, just low the seat and take off the wheels (they go in pockets on the side). The bike is not protected at all (except from the dust, hmm hmm) and the wheels are exposed. I find it very expensive, but very (around 70 Euros). If you need to take the TGV (the fast train) you might consider paying the fine. Talk with the train manager before leaving, he will let you put your bike at the back or front of the train for a 50 Euros fine. That's what I do. I can store my bike there fully geared, don't have to take anything down and I'm not bothered with the bike bag during the trip...

There's a post about this on http://www.biketrip.org/documents/art_train.php it's not updated yet but I'll add some of this talk.

Alex

Alexandre Lagache, May 03, 2001

Bike Rental - France

Found on: touring@phred.org

The Bourgogne Randonnées (hereafter referred to as B-R) rental bikes are of acceptable quality and would certainly be the easiest way to go, especially as they will supply racks and bags. The price looks good too. Given their history and self-description, they are touring-oriented and speak English (if that is an issue).

B-R will apparently ship your bike to the starting point and pick it up at the end. Depending on your itinerary, this could be a great convenience. However, if your tour will both start and end in the same large city, you could probably find a good rental bike there (especially in Paris) without having to pay shipping charges to and from Beaune (home of B-R). On the other hand, maybe the shipping charges are low; ask B-R. And will another shop have racks and bags for rent?

If you do rent, MAKE THE ARRANGEMENTS IN ADVANCE . On one trip to France, I rented on the spot from local shops (just for day trips) and the available bikes ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. ALSO, JUNE AND JULY (esp. July) ARE HIGH SEASON; SO EVEN A TOURING-BIKE RENTAL SPECIALIST LIKE B-R MIGHT RUN OUT OF BIKES IN YOUR SIZE. (By the way, you may want to bring your own saddle and pedals.)

The bicycles rented by Bourgogne Randonnées can be seen in more detail on the manufacturer's website. ">http://www.cycles-lapierre.fr> It is in French only, but the specs are easily understood once you get to the actual bikes.

From the homepage, click on Gamme 2001 (2001 Product Line). Then you have a menu of categories: VTT (vélo tout terrain - all terrain or mtn bike), Course (road), VTC (vélo tous chemins - all roads or hybrid), Trekking (Touring), and City (cruiser). Click on Trekking, then from the Trekking page click on Cherokee Man or Cherokee Lady.

The rental bikes do not precisely match any of the Lapierre models shown, but I believe the frame is the same as the Trekking Cherokee. B-R refers to their bikes as VTC, but the website VTC bikes have steel frames (Over here, if a touring bike had a straight handlebar, one person might call it a hybrid and another might call it a tourer). I suspect that the bikes are built up with components specified by the rental agency, as they are not the same as the stock components. With stock components the bike lists for $500 (3400FF). The direct link to the Trekking Cherokee is ">http://www.cycles-lapierre.fr/web/produits/580.htm>

All of the aluminum-frame Lapierre bicycles are made from 7005 aluminum. The Cherokee weighs 12.9kg (28 lbs.) with stock components (including a suspension seatpost which is not on the rental bike). The company is located in Dijon, not far from Beaune (home of B-R).

BUYING would not be prohibitively expensive. In my experience, you pay about the same or a bit less than in the U. S. for equivalent quality. Plus, assuming you are going to keep the bike, you save the rental fee. And there are some touring bikes over there that are not available here (yes, there are the high-end custom builders but there are also very good bikes in the $1,000-1,500 range). The only downside is packing it up to bring it back. (Also, you are not helping your Local Bike Shop.)

Once again, though, I STRONGLY ADVISE AGAINST GOING THERE AND STARTING TO SHOP WITHOUT SOME ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT YOU WANT AND WHERE TO LOOK FOR IT (especially if you don't speak French). I could give you the names of a few reliable touring-oriented shops or builders (some custom builders also make stock-size frames at reasonable prices), and I would imagine that others on this list (David Desmet, Douglas Brooks?) have the same information. HOWEVER, WHILE A PARTICULAR RETAILER OR BUILDER MAY SELL A BIKE THAT IS PERFECT FOR YOU, THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY WILL HAVE IT AVAILABLE IN YOUR SIZE WITH DESIRED COMPONENTS AND ACCESSORIES ON THE DAY THAT YOU WALK THROUGH THEIR DOOR--UNLESS YOU MAKE ARRANGEMENTS WITH THEM IN ADVANCE.

I hope the above is helpful, and please do not hesitate to ask more questions.

Bon voyage et bonne route.

Herb Goodfriend Elizabeth, N. J. (home of Newark Airport, 5000 miles from France)


Herb Goodfriend, April 02, 2001

French Trains

Found on: rec.bicycles.misc

I'm a bike traveller from/in France and now quite used with bike in trains...

you have 3 ways to use train to travel with your bike:

A- use the SERNAM transportation system to transport your bike and get it a few days after in a sernam center (truck station) maybe is there also a service to deliver them at home but check... anyway the handling of your bike will be worst than in a plane, and really I would never let my bike handled by such careless workers... so DONT USE THAT

B- as told here, pack your bike in a bike bag of normalised size (1m20/90cm I think), just dismounting the from wheel is OK for simple 26'' bikes, but my 700 (~28'') hybrid transformed into randoneur bike with fenders, front/back holders, packs, mirrors... needs to be dismantled completlety (1hour to mount or unmount). The bag can be found in sports stores (go sport, decathlon in france) or some bike specialists (randocycles in Paris (Vincennes in fact) this is really cool if you can because you can use any trains, just having to pack you bike and handle the bag on board. the only drawback is that it adds a few kg to your luggage... anyway think about using it as a bag, tent carpet, pillow,... note also that the exact measure is not strict but never try to enter with a very large bag...

some badly mooded controlers sometime persecute bikers (foreigners are hopefully a little more protected... hospitality is a reality even when badly mooded) and we have to respect rules at least for the essential...

C- you can find one train each day (some at night) on most destination that have a luggage room where you can hang your bike on hooks(or simply put it in)... those trains are often impractical and slow, and it is only a convenience extorted to the SNCF by bike associations. Note that things may change soon and that SNCF have some (secret) plan to install 4 bike places in each train... in how many years, I don't know.

You have to ask the controller to open the room... this is not simple and the best method if you are not at a starting station (like Paris) is 1- when the train arrives, quickly find the cars with the luggage room logo (and the iron curtain you will recognise with time)... not easy. 2- climb in the nearest door and push your bike into the coridor... 3- breath! 4- if the room is not open wait/look for the controller to open the luggage room. Inform him where you want to leave, so he can plan to open 5- hang or put your bike into the room. Lock it because it is not protected/guaranteed... 6- let the controller close the room if he wants to...

when arriving, ask the controller early to open the room, and eventually the curtain (if he is in a good mood)
always remember that it really depends on the mood of the controler... be kind whatever he say/does or moan... some controllers are really helpful, much more than they have to do according to the rules. Some really try everything to oppose, despite the rules... my experience is generally in the good direction...

My 1Euro advice is to avoid this way if you are not used with french and SNCF usage, and if you can unmount your bike in less than 30 minute...

---- also one advice... lock your bike everywhere except in Paris (and some suburbs) where you must not leave it for more than the time you took to lock it (mean survival time of a bike is quite short in Paris)... standard lock in Paris is a 1kg motorbike lock ...
in most cities it is a U lock, and in the countryside it is quiet but avoid leaving it without at least a simple lock (the flexible cable lock)...

Alain Coetmeur, March 27, 2001

Paris, France (de Gaulle)

Found on: touring@phred.org

There is a foot path with a tunnel that goes from the terminal to the train station-it goes behind the Hilton. Once you make that trek to the train station, the amount of time you spend in death race 2000 is only a couple of miles or so.

gebuh

GEBUH , March 25, 2001

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland ( Aeroport de Bale-Mulhouse-Freiburg), June 99:

From the Basel international airport (locally called the Aeroport de Bale-Mulhouse-Freiburg), go right following the one-way terminal access street and downhill a short ways to an intersection. Go left here to a traffic circle less than a kilometer away.
Signs will indicate the routes to various destinations.

To ride into the Alsace area of France without going through the city of Mulhouse, follow the Blotzheim sign and then the Bartenheim signs to head north. There is a hotel in Bartenheim.

Tom Webb, February 27, 2001

French Trains

Found on: touring@phred.org

I last was in France in 1997. There has been one important change since then, which I will explain later.

Long distance trains (grandes lignes) are still operated by the national railway (SNCF - Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Françaises). Their website has useful information http://www.voyages-sncf.com at least some of it is in English as well as French (click on the little Union Jack for English).

Regional trains (TER - Train Express Régional) are still funded by SNCF but operated by regional Councils.

On the regional train schedules, there is a bicycle symbol above each train that allows bicycles. Most TER trains do allow bicycles. Usually (on newer equipment), there is a space at the end of each car for three bicycles hung on hooks. Sometimes there is just a baggage compartment at the end of one car. This is no hassle.

On the long distance trains (TGV high speed trains or Corail regular trains), you can always bring your bicycle on board IF IT IS IN A BAG OR CASE NO LARGER THAN ABOUT 4'x3' (120x90cm), so that it will fit on the luggage racks in the car or compartment. I used a sack that could have been rolled up and carried on my rear rack had I been doing itinerant touring. (I was only doing day trips so I just left the sack in the hotel.)

Some trains (especially in the summer) have special cars for roll-it-on-yourself bicycle transport.

Now the big change: You used to be able to bring the bicycle to the train station and send it as checked baggage. This was convenient, cheap, and safe. You didn't have to disassemble or reassemble anything. They used a special cardboard shield that protected the bicycle while allowing it to be rolled. You did have to allow for possible delay, especially if changing trains, but I never had a problem.

Now all checked baggage is carried by the SERNAM trucking company. You have to either take the bicycle to a SERNAM depot (about $30 to ship) or call for door-to-door service (about $45), giving them one day's notice.

Bon voyage et bonne route.

Herb Goodfriend

Herb Goodfriend, February 16, 2001

Bordeaux Airport

The airport in Bordeaux is cycle friendly. We arrived at the airport on a Friday afternoon, normal workday, and located the JetBus. The baggage hold under the bus is too small to load the bicycles while still in the shipping crates. The driver helped us load them in the bus by juggling them through the doorway. It is a very very tight fit. There were no other passengers on the bus, so it was not inconvient to others. The trip into Place Gambetta is a straight shot from the airport. In retrospect, we would have had an easier time, by riding from the airport to the hotel. Traffic was heavy on a Friday, but manageable had we tried it. On the return trip, we didn't even try to connect with ground transportation. Loaded the panniers, set off for the airport at 6 am on a Sunday morning. Seven mile ride, no traffic, rode right up to Air France ticket desk and started the disassembly and boxing. Vive Bordeaux airport.

Bruce Northcutt, February 10, 2001

French Trains

Found on: touring@phred.org

Have taken bicycles on trains in France on several occasions - it has not always been fun to say the least!

A few pointers:
France is probably the most bicycle friendly country in Europe in terms of its rich network of secondary (yellow) roads. On the other hand, the train system in France is the least accomodating to bicycles.

Throughout France, bicycles are permitted on certain trains - the schedule will show a bicycle to indicate that bicycles are permitted on these routes. Be prepared to wait until off peak hours for these trains.

The TGV will permit a bicycles as baggage - but be prepared to the baggage personnel to tell you to expect it to arrive in 3-4 days. (The word "baggage" here seems to have been derived from the word "garbage" >- and they really do not give a hoot about your lousy bicycle!!) Despite all of this, we have checked in our cycles as baggage on the TGV (high speed train) and it has arrived within the same day - except when returning to Paris when it took us 2 days. In any event, be prepared for baggage to take 2-3 days to arrive in some instances. In some cases, you can "carry" the bicycle on the train - but they do require you to put it in a case of some sort (hard case or fabric seems to be permitted, and sporting goods stores even sell these cases).

The local trains (not TGV) will often permit bicycles to be carried at certain times. The schedule will show a picture of a bicycle indicating that the train does accept bicycles, and these may be carried onto the train. In these cases, here are designated cars which permit bicycles, usually the very first or very last car.

In some towns, they do not permit a bicycle to be placed on the train at all, but by cycling a town or 2 away, one can find another town which does accept the bicycle.

A number of stations in the Metro in Paris do not permit bicycles at all, so beware!

Best advice is to avoid taking a bicycle into Paris using the Metro. The TGV is a possible conduit to getting your bicyle into and out of Paris. Leave enough time on the TGV if you do check your bicycle in as baggage - 1-3 days is usual.

If you avoid the TGV and take local trains throughout France, there are usually anywhere from 2-5 trains per day which accept bicycles as carry-ons.

France is otherwise a cyclist's paradise!
Enjoy!

btw, in other countries such as Germany, Switzerland, your bicycle is more than welcome - many even have special hooks to hang the bicycle during the trip. They seem more accepting of people like us taking our bicycles along as our transportation

Leigh Durlacher

Leigh Durlacher, February 10, 2001

Nice, France

Found on: touring@phred.org

Hi all,

Ray asks about the probability of storing a bike box at Nice Airport. A few years ago I got to know that airport quite intimately. My friend and I had just wrapped up our French tour in Nice, when she fell suddenly ill with the 'flu. We booked in to a hotel close to the airport (waaaaay above our budget, being campers) and I took over as organizer.

First I had to get some boxes, which Air France said they would sell to us (with a tidy profit) - but somehow I managed to walk out, boxes in hand, without paying! I *did* try! Then I got both bikes to the airport in their boxes, thanks hugely to the nice hotel shuttle driver who had to make two trips - those french vans are tiny! So there I am with two jam-packed bike boxes looking to store them overnight so we can just nip over in the *very* early morning and fly out. Ya right. Apparently all over France, left-luggage facilities had been shut down for weeks for security reasons, which of course wasn't true as we had left things at rail stations previously. That made our complicated departure even more messy, but that shuttle driver had us and our bikes at our respective terminals on time!

So, after all of that, my advice is this: Don't count on being able to store your boxes, even if everyone, including the airlines, say it will be okay. If you're flying in to Nice, and leaving from there as well, see if your hotel (if that's the way you're going) will store the boxes for you. If you're hostelling, the HI up on the hill *might* be able to help. If your boxes are of the cardboard variety, and you can't find anywhere to store them, you may have to chuck them and make other arrangements, like buying from Air France .

If you have any questions about cycling in France in general (and especially camping), please ask!

Bonne route!
Robin

Robin, January 01, 2001

Tandem Twosday

found on yak@list.greengear.com

We have: (we are bike rich) singles (Sachs and Lemond Zurich), Bike Fridays (AF, PR, and NWT) and both a Tandem Twosday and a CoMotion S&S. This summer we spent two weeks on the Twosday in France. We dissembled the tandem and put it in suitcases for the flight over. At the $50/night hotel in Paris we put the bike together (1/2 hour or so), put the rack and panniers on, and rode to the station. We took the bike apart on the platform, folded it up, tied it together and plunked it down in the back of the passenger car. No questions asked by les inspecteurs. Five hours later we put the bike back together, etc., and rode off into southwestern France.

I can't imagine a better scenario for traveling than that provided by the Tandem Twosday. It's easy to take apart (perhaps not the first couple of times), amazingly tough, and its diminutive size captivates people and makes friends for us wherever we ride it. It might not be as fast or zippy as the commotion but with panniers and/or a trailer, who cares? I am sold on small foldable bikes.

David Levine

David Levine, December 15, 2000

Inline Wheelchair


I tell the agent that the case contains an inline wheelchair. I've never been questioned and I'm not lying because my left knee won't tolerate much walking. When we had the Tandem Twosday folded in the back of a railway car in France, the conducteur accepted inline wheelchair as a valid answer when he asked What is that thing? I didn't tell him it was a tandem inline wheelchair.

David Levine New Hampshire
David Levine, November 16, 2000

Trains in Italy

Found on: touring@phred.org

Fellow tourists- I have followed the stories about train expeiences on the Pacific Coast. You might be interested in my experience this past summer during a tour in France and Italy. I planned to train from Rome to Paris for the flight home. I had checked the internet Deutsche Bahn european schedule and felt assured that a train existed that would take my bike and me. When I arrived in Assisi, I stopped at the train station to buy a ticket. Two experienced ticket sellers flipped through serveral thick printed schedules for some time and concluded that bke transport was not possible.

The next day in Terni, about 80 km from Rome, I tried again, with the same result. In fact, I just barely got a reservation for a overnight bunk for myself. Worried now about the bike, I did the responsible thing --- had a gelato. While sitting in the plaza, I spied a Mail Boxes Etc, just like the USA. A very nice young fellow who spoke English said they could ship the bike. So we wrapped the bike in bubble wrap and cardboard and tape and I gave him my hotel's address in Paris.

The $250 fee hurt some, but it is a great bike. I trained to Rome, saw the sights for 2 days, had a reasonable overnight train trip to Paris. In Paris, I called UPS to check on the bike. I was informed the bike had been misrouted and was in Milan, and would require special handling to arrive the next day, rather than regular handling that I had paid for. The UPS agent could not accept my authorization to change the handling since Mail Boxes Etc was the shipper. So, the telephone yellow pages gave me a Paris Mail Boxes office. A subway ride and a sweaty walk took me to the office, where a nice fellow, who spoke English, made a phone call, and assured me that the bike would arrive tomorrow.

Sure enough, it showed up at the hotel in the afternoon in time for me to put it together to ride to the Gare du Nord to catch the RER train to Charles de Gaulle airport. So it all worked out, but I did have some worried moments. We cyclists could use some help from the train people.

Ted Herman

Theodore C. Herman, September 21, 2000

United Airlines. Minneapolis to Heathrow

I obssessed months over packing the cannondale, finally buying a $7 Amtrak box, very big and wide. Flight over was on Air Canada due to a storm over Chicago and the box arrived badly torn on each of the big sides as to be unsuable. Upon return to Heathrow after a month in France, I was sold a 7 pound sterling bike box, but there were none to be had in all of Heathrow. The Cannondale flew baggage again free, with nothing on or over it and arrived back in Minneapolis in perfect shape. My theory is that the handlers knew that any damage would be immediately seen and so did not mis-handle it!!!
All I can say is Do it, bike France!!! Charles Pahl

Charles Pahl, September 16, 2000

French Trains -- TGV

I spent June, 2000 cycle touring France, solo, self-contained. It was a great, great trip. I took a train from Porties to Limoges then to Clermont-Ferrand. This being a one car affair and the bike went with me bungeed in the front/rear (they can drive it from either end) and a conductor or sometimes a passenger helped me lift it in and out.

I rode up Mt. Ventoux sans panniers, then trained from Orange to Portiers again for first day of TdeF. At Orange I was subject to a regional strike and the 1st 3 trains of the day did not arrive from Marsailles; the stationmaster literally flagged down the 9:30 am TGV and the two young French men with whom I had been talking litteally threw the bike and me into the vestibule and in 30 seconds it was off again. When the conductors finally saw the velo and came thru muttering we were at 300 mph and so I made it back to C-F in one day. The most difficult part was getting the fully loaded velo up and down the stairs in stations w/o freight elevators. The conductor in the Limoges to Poiters train after heroic efforts wrote me a note that allowed me on the final train from Tours to Caen in order to catch the ferry and on to Heathrow when a new summer schedule went into effect June 28 when the schools let out for summer and there were even fewer trains that allowed velos. That note was pure gold! The French people were without exception totally supportive, even loving.

France is the place to cycle and camp!!

Sincerely,
Charles Pahl

Charles Pahl, September 16, 2000

London Stanstead to Carcassonne with Ryanair

We drove (horrors!) to Stanstead, Ryanair charged us £15 each way for the privelige of taking our bikes, but weren't too concerended with the weight. The routine was the usual 'turn handlebars, remove pedals' sort of thing; no boxes required. After the return journey, we were informed that some of the bikes had been damaged, but all there appeared to be was a damaged mudguard (fender) which I can live with.


Carcassonne airport is marked as an 'aerodrome' on the map, and that would seem accurate, no worries about taking your bike out onto eight lanes of thundering traffic here; instead, we wheeled our way out to a relatively minor road and set off towards the Pyrenees...



Andrew Hayward, August 30, 2000

French Alps

I'm an English cyclist living in Grenoble in the French Alps and have been
putting together a website with information on cycling around the area,
including maps, suggested tours, photos that I have taken of the climbs in
the different ranges and a diary as I explore new places.


I'm permenantly based here and the site is constantly evolving and it would
be great if you could add it to your Touring links page.


http://perso.worldonline.fr/standring/


Best regards


Russell

Russell, August 21, 2000

Paris, Normandy

I just returned from a wonderful bike tour of Paris and the Normandy Beaches. I determined the bike ride from Paris to Normandy would have probably entailed some navigation of congested roads in the Paris subarbs, so I opted to take the train from Paris to Caen. A helpful ticket agent at the St. Lazare train station advised me the second of several trains leaving for Caen would contain a luggage car which would accommodate my bicycle.

Just as the ticket agent predicted, there was a luggage car on the train with several bicycle hooks. A rail official helped me and a few others load our bikes and my bike and I arrived in Caen without any difficulties.

I also had a successful crossing of the seas with my bike on Irish Ferries from Cherbourg in Normandy to Rosslare in Wexford, Ireland. There was no charge for the bike, but Irish Ferries wanted it registered in advance which I accomplished by e-mail after booking my passage on their website.

The trip was tremendous and I recommend cycling Normandy to any cyclist.

Regards, Paul

Paul Gilmore, August 01, 2000

Paris, France (deGaulle)

Found on: touring@phred.org


We did this with our tandem in July 1998. I don't really recommend it although I am still here to talk about it. CDG is surrounded by high-speed access roads full of French drivers. We feared for our lives and literally carried the bike up and over a couple of embankments and across several lanes of traffic rather than risk going through some of the intersections, off-ramps, etc.


The east entrance isn't well-marked and we found our way out by compass direction, not signage(just try to keep moving east). If you can move toward the airport hotels, you're going the right way. You also would probably do well to find the bus to the CDG train station and try to follow it, since it starts out from the terminal in the direction you want and might run interference for you initially.


On the other hand, when you suddenly break free of CDG on the eastern side, you are in a beautiful quiet little village atmosphere and you can hardly remember what the fuss was all about. The ride east to Meaux isn't bad although it gets even better as you go farther east. The next morning we made ourselves a champagne breakfast picnic on a quiet country bridge over the river and all was right with the world. The whole Champagne region is inexpensive and lovely.


If you're going farther east, you should note that the only place to take your bike on a train between Paris Gare de L'Est and Strasbourg is Nancy, and there are only two trains per day that allow this (it's free and easy on those trains, however).


Enjoy, Joe

D. Joseph Mook, March 16, 2000

Paris, France (de Gaulle)

Found on: touring@phred.org


We did this with our tandem in July 1998. I don't really recommend it although I am still here to talk about it. CDG is surrounded by high-speed access roads full of French drivers. We feared for our lives and literally carried the bike up and over a couple of embankments and across several lanes of traffic rather than risk going through some of the intersections, off-ramps, etc.


The east entrance isn't well-marked and we found our way out by compass direction, not signage(just try to keep moving east). If you can move toward the airport hotels, you're going the right way. You also would probably do well to find the bus to the CDG train station and try to follow it, since it starts out from the terminal in the direction you want and might run interference for you initially.


On the other hand, when you suddenly break free of CDG on the eastern side, you are in a beautiful quiet little village atmosphere and you can hardly remember what the fuss was all about. The ride east to Meaux isn't bad although it gets even better as you go farther east. The next morning we made ourselves a champagne breakfast picnic on a quiet country bridge over the river and all was right with the world. The whole Champagne region is inexpensive and lovely.


If you're going farther east, you should note that the only place to take your bike on a train between Paris Gare de L'Est and Strasbourg is Nancy, and there are only two trains per day that allow this (it's free and easy on those trains, however).


Enjoy, Joe

D. Joseph Mook, March 16, 2000

Paris, France (de Gaulle)

Found on: touring@phred.org

From the main terminal, you have 2 options: (1) Head west toward the Holiday Inn in the village. From there pick up the road on the Michlin map that lies south of the airport and heads east. (2) Head easterly toward the Ibis Hotel. From there, you can find the small roads that lead to the country lanes. The main problems: Airport roads support fast traffic, although the shoulders are adequate. And every year I go, new construction has changed the roads; I have taken circular loops on occasion.

Good luck. Ted Herman

Theodore C. Herman, March 16, 2000

European Bike Express

Colin McKenna wrote: nobody seems to tour there.


Perhaps 'merkans don't, but many cyclists from Britain consider it a good touring destination. I will be co-leading a CTC camping group there during the first two weeks in June, and we had no trouble finding 20+ CTC members to join us.


Other than that, I can't help with your transport queries because we don't use the French trains. On our annual CTC camping tours we used to fly all the time, but the past two years and the coming one we're using the European Bike Express to get us and our cycles from England to where we're touring. This year we're getting dropped off in Vierzon and collected at Lyon, which gives us a chance to ride on an arc through the Auvergne.


More info on the EBE should be available at their website:


http://www.bike-express.co.uk


and though it may not help you, others on T&P might find it useful.


Mike Strauss Ledbury, England Pat_and_Mike@compuserve.com

Pat & Mike Strauss, March 07, 2000

Bike rental -- Toulouse/Dordogne, France

Found on: rec.bicycles.rides


You may arrange through The Bicycle Outfitter http://www.bicycleoutfitter.com Pickup and dropoff is in the Dordogne region. Used them for a weeks tandem rental. Worked out very well. Regards, lee

Lee and Jill Taylor, March 07, 2000

American Airlines Admirals Club Showers

I don't know if this information would be of enough interest to include on your site. I will rely on your editorial judgment.


The following American Airlines Admirals Club locations offer showers, basis a directory printed 6/1999 and current as of 3/2000. Most Admirals Clubs do not have showers. Please note that you need to be able to get into the Admirals Club for these to be of use.


  • Chicago O'Hare
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  • Frankfurt, Germany, Rhein Main Inernational Airport
  • London Gatwick and London Heathrow
  • Los Angeles International
  • Miami International
  • New York JFK
  • Paris Orly
  • Seattle
  • Tokyo Narita

Kruger, Mike, March 05, 2000

Cross-Channel Ferries

1) Brittany Ferries (at http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk ) sail to/from France from/to Plymouth, Poole and Portsmouth (my home town, nostalgic sob 🙂 .
2) P&O European Ferries (at http://www.poef.com/poef/index.htm ), who also sail for France from Portsmouth, and
3) http://www.a2beurope.com/ looks like a great place for planning (and booking) your ferry trip across the Channel.
For planning how to get to/from Bath from/to the southern English ports, try... http://www.railtrack.co.uk (trains) or http://www.nationalexpress.co.uk (long-distance buses - quite fast and very comfortable).

I don't think the latter will carry your bike, and the former may require reservations to be made for your bike in advance. You can book tickets on the National Express buses by credit card over the Net and have them delivered to an address you specify - very convenient indeed, I have found. Railtrack doesn't offer this option at the moment, as far as I know.

Hope this helps! Bon voyage 🙂
Bryan

Bryan Hollamby, January 19, 2000

Toulouse, Bordeaux, France

George


We found that cycling into Toulouse airport was very difficult. We came from Saint-Martin-de-Touche just south of the airport and we would have missed our flight if I had not scouted the area the night before. I strongly advise anyone trying to cycle into the airport to get advice. This is how we did it:


1. Get yourself onto the minor road that follows the dual carriageway to the north of the D902(A621). We came onto this from the south. We had to walk north-west along this road as it was one way (south east) from the airport entrance towards the river.


2. You come to a roundabout leading into the airport complex that allows access to the chain hotels. I remember going past the Formule-1 and the Campanile. Follow signs for the Relais Blanhac Interhotel. Get off your bike and cross the short stretch of grass in front of you and cross the airport slip-road.


If there was an official way in, I could not work it out. Although I could see how you were supposed to get out- it was signed. The tourist information in Toulouse does have maps showing cycle routes in town. It does not, as far as I remember, cover getting into the airport, but is useful in any case as a detailed map of Toulouse.


We found Toulouse very bad in general, for cyclists.



Bordeaux is easy we have found. Just follow the map and your nose and you are in (or out). It was claimed at Bordeaux airport, that cyclists could put their bikes on the airport bus. We did not try this. Bordeaux is busy, but we did not find it as frightening as Toulouse.

Mick, November 20, 1999

Gare Montparnasse - Paris

If you are taking a train from the Montparnasse station in Paris, there is an easy way to get your bike up to the platform level. As you face the front of the station, go around to the left side and down the street alongside the station. About 100 feet, on the right, you will find a loading ramp that goes up to the platform; it is in a loading dock doorway that is marked no entrance, but you can go in there anyway. This is much easier and better than going in the main entrance to the station and trying to fight the escalators.

... Andy




Andrew Schwartz, November 10, 1999

French Trains

I just returned from France, where we successfully took our bikes on two different types of trains.

First of all, there is great confusion within the French railway system about their bicycle policies. It took our hotel manager about 5 phone calls to the SNCF to find someone who knew anything about the rules for taking bikes on trains.

We were traveling on a TGV train from Paris to Angers. The rule is actually as stated in their booklet: if you are traveling in a non-rush hour time period, and if your bike is in a soft case, you can carry your bike onto the train and place it on the luggage rack yourself. Since the bike is just another piece of luggage, there is no charge for this.

What do they call a soft case? They call it a housse, which is a canvas bag with pockets for the wheels and for the frame. (Housse rhymes with moose.) Since we were biking from Angers to Orleans, buying a housse for each bike would not have been feasible for us, since a housse is heavy, not to mention expensive. The man at the sporting goods store insisted that this type of case was the * only one * that would be acceptable on the train.

However, a customer in the store, who was more of a bicyclist, said that all that was really necessary was to cover the bike to preserve the cleanliness of the other passengers luggage and of the train interior. It would be necessary, however, to remove the wheels and turn the pedals and handlebars.

We ended up purchasing two housses which were really intended as weather protection covers for bicycles stored outside. One cost about $20 and the other was $10. The more expensive one was a sturdy PVC fabric-like cover that rolled up to be a little smaller than the size of a roll of paper towels. The less expensive one was made from plastic sheeting that was about three times the thickness of a trash can liner.

These housses worked just fine on the train. I spent about 15 minutes per bike, removing the wheels and pedals and turning the handlebar. I lashed the wheels to the frame and tied up the chain, so that nothing would fall out of the bottom of the housse. Remember, this is not a closed cover; it is open at the bottom.

The luggage racks on the TGV are just wide enough to accommodate the disassembled bikes, so it was definitely necessary to remove the wheels. I did not have to remove the saddle, however. The luggage racks are horizontal and are located at each end of the train car. I gently placed one bike on top of the other, with the open end of the housse facing the wall, so that no one would notice that it was not completely closed. As it turned out, nobody even looked twice at our bikes. No baggage handlers or train conductors batted an eye.

On the TGV, there are luggage racks at both ends of the cars, but there is only one door to each car. Most people enter the door of their own car and use the luggage rack that is right there. However, we entered the door of the car next to ours and used the luggage rack at the end of our car opposite the location of the door. By so doing, we discovered that there was no luggage from the other passengers, and thus more room for our bikes.

Our panniers, front packs, helmets, and other gear were placed on the overhead luggage racks above our seats. On the TGV, it is necessary to reserve seats. This was an advantage, since the train was fairly crowded. Second class seats are just fine; they are roomier than the coach class of airline seats. Our car was clean, but showed signs of wear. We also requested a non-smoking car. You can request a seat facing either forward or backward; if you are traveling with a group, you may want to ask for a table location, with two seats facing forward and two facing backward and a small table between.

At our destination, we had to move quickly, because not only did we need to unload our panniers and other gear, but we needed to get back on the train to retrieve our bikes. Since we were in a thru station, we had only a few minutes. Other passengers were getting off and on the train, and we had to contend with them.

Actually, I think a couple of 32 gallon trash can liners would be sufficient to satisfy the SNCF requirements. One bag from each end of the bike, overlap them in the middle, and use a couple of pieces of tape. Since you handle the bikes yourself, you don't have to worry about rough handling, and all the dirty, greasy parts will be contained in the bags. This would be an inexpensive solution, and certainly it would be easy to keep the bags for the return trip or go to a market and buy others.

Our return trip from Orleans to Paris was on a older type of train, not on a TGV. Initially, we told the ticket agent that we had bicycles. No, he said, you cannot take bikes on the train from Orleans to Paris. You can take bikes on the train from Paris to Orleans, but not the other way. Tough to figure that logic.

When I informed him that the bikes would be a housse, his demeanor changed immediately, and he waived his hand and said this would be no problem.

The train from Orleans did not have the same luggage configuration. The luggage areas at the ends of the cars were smaller than on the TGV. We sat in the last car of the train and positioned the bikes at the very end of the car. The bikes stuck out a little into the passage way, but since it was the last car, no one would use the door. Again, we had no problems; I think one of the train people saw the bikes, but walked right by. The train was not crowded at all, and we could have even put our bikes between some seats if necessary. We purposely boarded a train that left after rush hour.

In retrospect, taking our bikes on the French trains was a relatively easy and painless process.

... Andy




Andrew Schwartz, October 18, 1999

Bike Rental -- Loire Valley

My friend rented a bike from SNCF (French RR) at Orleans for a tour of the Loire.


I thought the bike was pretty bad, but it worked for her. It was a standard French town bike. Heavy -- with fenders, head light, pump, lock, and a rear rack. Fortunately the area is mostly flat. We rode about 400 miles in ten days. Had a wonderful trip.

George Farnsworth, August 31, 1999

German Rail

The train at the Frankfurt airport is essentially a city commuter-style train (as opposed to a long-distance inter-city train), which routinely is loaded with people hauling a lot of luggage to/from the airport. You can definitely drag your boxed bike onto it and no one will care, if the train isn't already full. The doors open wide like a subway car and the area just inside the doors is wide-open, except of course for everyone else's piles of large baggage. If you can't fit on one train, just wait for the next one.

The airport train takes you directly into Frankfurt HBF (the main station) where wrestling your box through the crowds and around the platforms will be more of a challenge than at the airport. It's definitely still doable, but try to figure out a way to keep all of your stuff with you at once if you have other bags. If yours is a typical morning arrival, then the station is going to be bustling and maneuvering through the crowd will be tough. Also, the station is quite large so it would be difficult if not impossible to move your things in two trips while keeping an eye on the stuff that you aren't currently carrying (I hope that makes sense).

If you take the fast train (ICE) to Stuttgart, you won't be able to bring the boxed bike into the car with you and will have to check it as luggage or else use the special bicycle car (if the train has one). Germany has **much** better bike-on-train policies than France, so be sure to inquire at the station about your options on the Frankfurt-Stuttgart route.

Another option is, in my experience, if you take the slower, older trains with more local stops, you can get away with about anything, baggage-wise. For example, I moved myself from an apartment in Bremen to an apartment in Hanover using such a train. I had about 5 person-loads worth of boxes, books, suitcases, etc, with me. I piled them on the platform in Bremen, waited for the older slow train, ferried them up into the car with me by making several trips, and occupied a number of seats in the process. But I was one of only about 3-4 people in the whole car, so no one, including the conductor who punched my ticket, paid any attention. I unloaded in several trips to the platform in Hanover, again with no one paying any attention. I'm pretty sure that you could drag your boxed bike onto one of these trains and no one would care. The down side is that these trains are quite slow and have essentially no facilities other than a mangy toilet. On the other hand, you will stop in quite a few small towns that the fast trains skip, giving you more chances to see things "off the beaten track."

Usual disclaimers, Joe

D. Joseph Mook, August 17, 1999

Swiss Rail

Just saw your web pages and thought I'd send you a message ...

We tried this year to go to France from Belgium with our new bikes, but gave up and went to Switzerland instead (using the overnight train). Our main stumbling block was that we had to dismantle our new bikes and carry them as hand luggage (didn't seem to be any other solution). This wouldn't have been so bad if all we had was the bikes, but we had bags for camping, etc. so we decided to find somewhere else to go instead ...

We also looked for buses which took bikes, but the various companies we tried had all stopped doing it.

Switzerland was great (and easy to get to from Belgium, since they had a very large and mostly empty luggage compartment) .....

Yours,

Paul.

Paul Massey, August 13, 1999

Nice, France

The safest way out is to avoid the N98, (Identified on signs more usually as "Bord de Mer") use the N7 which is just meters North of the N98.

Coming out of the airport, cross the N98 (If unsure, it is the first road upon exit from the Nice-Cote d'Azur airport) and take any street going North. You will then be on the N7 in a minute or two and then (assuming you are heading for Nice and not Antibes) turn right and you have a 10 minute ride into Nice. For Antibes turn left on the N7, instead of right.

If you need somewhere to get your bearings, look for the signs for "Place Massena" where there are numerous cafes where you can sit and look at your maps.

Toodles q Bill Henderson
Pro News http://pronews.cjb.net

Pro-News, August 02, 1999

Paris, Loire Valley

In late September 1999, my wife and I took our bikes to France for a trip into the Loire Valley. The bikes were packed in hard shell cases but I planned to leave the cases at the Charles de Gaulle baggage storage or "consigne" for a fee. But because a bomb was left since my last trip, it no longer existed.

So, we took the packed cases to the airport Softel Hotel where for a tip (perhaps unnecessary) the head bellhop allowed me to store the cases in the hotel storage room until our return.

Taking the assembled bikes back to the airport via hotel shuttle the next day, we got into Paris Gare Montparnasse on the Air France shuttle bus only after chatting with the supervisor about the great French cyclists. At first, he said that he might not have room for the bikes.

The head conductor for the whole station said no way to the bikes on the TGV, but he did point to a later express train to Angers on the overhead schedule board that had a bike symbol to the right of the train details.

We later caught a regional cummuter type train into Paris no problem from a small town north of Tours, but for major lines you need to look for the little bike symbol on the schedule or "horaire".

We were able to ride the RER train connection from Gare De Nord back to Charles de Gaulle. One final note: never assume you can get a hotel room in Paris especially on the weekend.

Bonne randonnee ! Carlisle Page

carlisle page, July 24, 1999

French Trains

A week ago I experienced the present policy of SNCF regarding bikes: no bikes on the TGV (and there are no other international trains anymore...) unless you can disguise them as "hand luggage".  As a randoneur who has also some other stuff to take care of, this does not work out.

They told me about the Cernam service: the biker travels at a speed of 300 kph and the bike at 80 kph.  So, at the end the two will not meet...  Unless you are German or Swiss, since the SNCF has agreements with their railways, which means that Cernam forwards your bike to the home address.  Well, that's nice when you are German or Swiss.  The other possibility is that they forward your velo within France to another station where you must collect it.  But you may have to wait there for one or two days due to the difference in travelling speed...  So you better compose "roundtrips" by own velo if you don't want to surrender yourself to the non-friendliness of this TGV-era...

But I was very lucky to find a Dutch coach which was willing to take me and my bike to Rotterdam, thanks to an inventive French campsite-owner!

Rens, June 05, 1999

French Trains

[I sent] an email to SNCF and [received the following] reply from an official of the french railway. It may be of use on your site.

Subject: Re: Informations SVP
Sent: 4/16/19 5:21 PM
Received: 4/30/99 11:50 AM
From: D.Boiron, dominique.boiron@sncf.fr
To: Doug Ross

Dear Sir,

In reply to your letter dated April 21, please find the following information about taking your bike.

In TGV trains and on Corail coaches, you may take your bike in the TGV luggage stacks and on the wide vestibules of Corail coaches.

These measures apply to cycle which can be fold up or placed with their wheels removed in specials covers. You can purchase such covers from specialised shops.

On some Regional or Grandes Lignes trains marked whith a mention " bike transport " in the SNCF timetables on our server you can take your cycle free of charge.

However you will have to load and unload it yourself and you will remain responsible for it all time.

In some trains (especially regional trains) the capacity of luggage van is restricted to 3 cycles. You will have to load/unload your cycle without delaying the departure of the train.

I inform you that now you can access our internet site at www.sncf.fr When you are on the first screen, you can choose the english version in activating on the english flag.

You can obtain the train fares and schedules at http://voyages.sncf.fr/voyages_gb/acgb_accueil.html

To get a price when you are on the "list of journeys" you have to select one schedule. When you are on the view "list of journeys" it is necessary to select a journey 1 or 2 or 3 on the left of every timetable. Then you have to follow the dialogue up to obtain your price.

I hope this information will help you.

Yours sincerely.

Florence Delalé
webgl@sncf.fr

Doug Ross, May 03, 1999

French Trains

The material in "New Policy on SNCF" and "Official Rules" indicating bikes have been banned from trains and people must ship their bikes by SERNAM truck, is simply not true. Your bike can accompany you throughout France on designated trains. These trains are identified in a pamphlet called "Guide du train et du velo" and in the regional schedules identified by a bicycle symbol.

Bob Ainsworth, April 24, 1999

Bike Rental -- Avignon

Someone asked ... Does anyone know of shops that offer bikes for rent in Avignon? We will be looking for good quality "road" type bikes for 2 weeks in October.

Here is a rental address:
  Location de velos, motos et voitures Holiday Bikes,
  41 cours Jean-Jaures, Avignon
  tel 0490279261

Jack www.jack-travel.com

Jack, March 27, 1999

French Trains

Here is my experience with bicycles on trains in France:

Last June I cycled from Germany to Paris, intending to return by train. As I was very short on time, I bought the ticket in advance here in Germany and I was informed that it should be no problem to take the bike with me on the same train.

However, when I arrived at the train station in Paris I was asked to bring my bike to the baggage service. No problem so far, but, as it was a public holiday, the baggage service was closed. I went back to the train and asked again to be allowed to put it myself into the (almost empty) luggage-van, but I got no permission. I was told that I should have been here on Friday. I told them that I couldn’t be here on Friday because I just started my tour on Saturday, but that didn’t help.

I was lucky to have a friend with me who speaks perfect French, but even his assistance didn’t make the train stuff to let my bike in. Finally, I went to the other end of the train, took off the wheels, waited for an unattended moment, hopped on the train, locked the bike to a handrail and looked for a seat somewhere far away...

Sometimes you have to help yourself...

Regards

Micha

Micha M, March 18, 1999

Bike Rental -- Avignon

I have a few fairly new road bikes I rent out in Beaune, Burgundy.

They are bright yellow Motobecanes, with Columbus tubing and a Cro Mo fork. The rims are Mavic CXP aero, with Shimano STI brake lever shifting, RSX rear and RX 100 front derailleurs. 21-speed, tires are 700C x 25. Sizes are 49cm, 55cm and 57cm, all men's frames. They come with pumps and sturdy rear racks with the tray. I can put a bag on the handlebars, but this tends to crowd the derailleur cables a bit.

By the bye, I have lived and cycled in France for ten years--if anyone wants to know about a region they are thinking of visiting or have other questions drop me a line.

A bientot,
John

John Brooks, March 16, 1999

Bike Rental -- Avignon

We have had many questions about renting bicycles for touring in France. We have found a company that rents 24 speed Hybrids and will deliver and pick up anywhere in France. Just give them the Hotel you plan to start at and the one you plan to end at and they take care of the rest. We rent tandems in the south of France. The info on both follows:

TANDEMS:

The Bicycle Outfitter of Los Altos, California, rents road tandems from the Les Eyzies area in the Dordogne Department of Southwest France. The bicycles are reserved through the Los Altos store at:
THE BICYCLE OUTFITTER
963 Fremont Ave, LOS ALTOS, CA 94024
Phone: 650 948-8092 Fax: 650 948-8804
E-Mail: Info@BicycleOutfitter.com Web Site: http://www.BicycleOutfitter.com

Rlesnik, January 28, 1999

French Trains

I have received conflicting information about the "official" policy regarding bikes on the Societè National de Chemin de Fer (SNCF). Several correspondents told me in 1998 that a new policy required cyclists to send their bikes by truck. Since then, however, others have told me that there is no such policy. I suspect that different officials at different times come up with different interpretations of the rules, which they present to the unwary traveller as gospel truth. -- George Farnsworth

The French RR has a web site at http://www.sncf.fr/indexe.htm that constructs routings and provides fares.

George Farnsworth, December 11, 1998

Custom bikes with custom boxes

Thanks for your informative web site.
We have just returned from two months cycling in Europe with relatively few hassles. Our bikes were custom made with the frame coming apart. We had boxes made with wheels so the bike, helmet and bike shoes etc all fitted in and the box could be wheeled along footpath without the need for trolleys. The box measured approx 800cm x 800cm x 400cm and when fully loaded weighed 32 kg. Qantas carried the bikes for free, but there is a maximum load of 32kg. If a single item is heavier than this, the baggage handlers will not take it.

We took the bikes in the boxes on Intercity trains including the TGV within France and Italy without cost, although some manpower was needed to lift them on and off the train and up and down stairs on station platforms. Looking for signs on the train for disabled access proved helpful, as there was often more luggage or seat room and in two months of travelling I can't recall seeing anyone in wheelchair on a train. Most conductors were generally helpful and while other travellers commented on the size of the boxes, they were generally ignored. The boxes also slid easily into the luggage compartment of a bus.

We also transported the boxes on the Metro (bicycles are not allowed ) in Paris and on the RER line without incident, except on departure from Charles de Gaulle airport. To exit from the station at Terminal 2, it was necessary to insert your ticket and pass through a turnstile which would not accommodate the boxes. There were no station staff available so we ended up lifting the boxes over the barrier. We were flying with Alitalia from Paris to Rome, where we had a connecting Qantas flight to Melbourne. We had inquired when booking tickets and again on flight confirmation whether or not there was a charge for the bicycles and were told there was not. For them to be accepted by Alitalia we had to pay excess baggage and retrieve the bikes from the luggage hall at Rome and recheck them into Qantas, where there were no hassles. An expensive and hassly end to a great cycling holiday.

Kath Raulings, November 21, 1998

French Trains -- TGV

In mid-Sept., 1998 my wife and I flew Air France to Paris, planning to travel to Tonnerre in Burgundy with our two bicycles. We landed at de Gaulle, Terminal 2, and found it simple to walk indoors to the RER station. [see Paris entry for details]

On some regional and Grandes Lignes trains you can take your bike for free, but you must load it yourself.. Look for a small roll up door on the side of the train, and get a conductor to unlock it for you (or just use the normal passenger door and wheel it to the luggage area). Our bikes were the only luggage in the car. You can find out if the train takes bikes by checking the schedule and looking for the sign "Bike Transport" at the site www.sncf.fr. You do not need to package your bike in any way. On the line to Tonnerre ( and Dijon) there was just one train a day which carried bikes, so you want to know the schedule in advance. You can also make a reservation via the web site with no deposit of money. The above train info does not apply to the TGV.

When leaving Paris on Air France just wheel your bike up to the counter with pedals removed, and handle bars dropped and turned, and they will gladly provide you with a free bike box, or take the bike as is. Twice lately I have shipped it sans box with no damage. In fact, in 8 trips to Europe on European airlines I have never had any damage. P.S. In France it helps a lot to speak a little French.

In the past 5 years Paris has gotten much more bike friendly. There is even a bike lane along Saint Germaine de Pres, and along many main streets.

Tom Weet and Thayer Cory, October 19, 1998

Stansted-St.Etienne

My mate, Paul, and I flew with Ryanair from London-Stansted to St.Etienne, France, in July 1998, for a tour of the Cevennes. (In retrospect, Montpelier is closer to the high Cevennes. But the ride south was superb.)

Access to Stansted is by rail from Liverpool St. Station. At the Travel Centre on the Upper Level, show your Ryanair ticket to be eligible for vastly reduced return rail ticket (from about 24 pounds down to 8.) For visitors from France, Ryanair flight attendants sell return rail tickets during the flight (for 9 pounds).

We thought bikes were banned from the Express train (half-hourly) so waited for the slow train (hourly). But on the return leg, very late on a wet Sunday night, we took the Express. The Ticket inspectors on the train were welcoming. (What are rail staff coming to?)

St.Etienne airport is several miles north of the city suburbs. So once you navigate the network of new roads (some fast), you're in the hills and away.

Regards,
Clyde Ingram

Clyde Ingram, September 09, 1998

German Rail

I've been studying in France for the past few weeks, and have used my bicycle to go all around the Alsace & Lorraine regions. The regional transport trains are quite good for hauling a bike over longer distances. The German Rail site in English (http://bahn.hafas.de/english.html) is much better than the SNCF (www.sncf.fr) for finding out which trains allow bicycles. Just enter your Dep. & Arr. cities, and hit Search Connection, then Journey Guide (or download postscript file) for information on bike-friendly trains.

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer, August 16, 1998

Montpellier, Perols, France

Montpellier itself is a problem: A large congested city with a maze of busy one-way streets.

I cycled into the heart of it from the southwest (May 1998), got bad info at the tourist office, and wound up on major freeways that didn't lead to the airport. My solution was to use the town of Perols southeast of Montpellier as a staging area. It has three hotels and is a 15-minute flat, low-traffic ride to the airport with easy access to the terminal. My hotel had a free shuttle van that easily carried bike boxes in the rear compartment. To or from Perols you can take smaller roads for any other destinations, avoiding Montpellier.

Nearby Lattes has a good tourist information office though no hotels.

Tom Webb, August 09, 1998

French Trains

Since the end of April, 1998, the French national railway (SNCF) no longer allows you to ship your bicycle as luggage on trains in France. Instead, you must ship it via SERNAM, which is the trucking company associated with the French railway.

You can take your bicycle in the train car in which you are travelling (as opposed to putting it in the luggage car) only if the bike is in a bike bag (housse a velo).

You must take the bike to, and retrieve it from the SERNAM depot. SERNAM provides a large cardboard box in which they ship your bike. The cost is 195 francs.

You can pay for shipping the bike at the train station when you buy your train ticket, or at any SERNAM office, or by telephone (see next paragraph).

SERNAM depots may or may not be located near a railway station. You can phone 0 803 845 845 (at 1,09 francs per minute) to learn where SERNAM depots are located, for other information, and to pay for shipping via credit card.

The hours vary from depot to depot. For example, in Marseille, the depot is open Monday through Friday 8-12, 13-17 and Saturday 9-12. In Paris, the depot near the Gare de Lyon is open Monday through Friday 8-18 and Saturday 8-12.

If you want to ship your bicycle to a town where there is no SERNAM depot, you can ship it via SERNAM to an address in the town. It costs 245 FF.

Whether you ship it to a SERNAM depot or to a private address, the bicycle is supposed to arrive two days after you send it.

Barbara Leonard, May 24, 1998

Cross-Channel Ferries

Hi George, me again. I notice you don't have anything on getting from England to France, so here goes:

England France - Cross Channel Ferries
The easiest crossing point is between Dover and Calais. Operators such as P&O run ferries every 2 hours or so for about 18 hours a day. Crossing takes 90 minutes or so. Cycles go free with foot passengers (ukp 11.00 each way, May '98) and will be stored on the car deck. Bungee cords are useful for securing the bike to the bulkhead. Most people leave their panniers on the bike, though its not secure.

Alternatives include Folkestone Boulogne by hovercraft\seacat (55 Mins)and Southampton Ouistreham (Caen) in Normandy (4 Hours).

Also see: http://www.yahoo.co.uk/Business_and_Economy/Transportation/Maritime/Passenger_Ferries/

Sam Marshall, May 14, 1998

Nice, France

We're hoping to move to France next year (for the cycling, of course!), so I'll be reachable at this e-mail address for only another 9 months, but I'd be glad to help someone if I could.

I wouldn't say that Nice is all that easy; there are a few complicated twists and turns; there's one place close to the airport where, if you're not really vigilant, you can end up on the autoroute (we almost did and that was after being warned by someone else who had to be rescued from the autoroute by the police).

One little trick we discovered on our own (no one there seemed to have any information on it) was using the train station about a kilometre away, called St. Augustin; that's what I'd recommend to people because yes, the traffic around the airport and west towards Cannes (which is where we went when we arrived) is unpleasant, because the road is so narrow in many stretches and, around Cap d'Antibes, quite confusing.

We came back to Nice (to Villefranche, actually) by train, which is wonderful, cheap (no charge for the bikes) and very easy.
--
Susan Wallis
43 Forward Ave.
London, Ontario
Canada N6H 1B5
519-433-1317

Wallis, Susan, May 08, 1998

French Trains -- TGV

I have reviewed the relevant section from "Le Guide du train et du Vélo" pamphlet published by SNCF. It has a section in English. I got this guide and a supplement to it from Gare Montparnasse in Paris in March of 1998, so it should be up-to-date as of then.

The bicycle can be taken freely on most trains,

1. If packed up to within certain dimensions, and within a "special" container (I would hope that a cardboard box would do, but it may need to be a soft-sided bag), on all TGV and Corails,

OR
2. Fully assembled (accompanied by the owner) on any train marked with a bicycle sign in the horaire.
OR
3. On most commuter trains, with several exceptions.

-- David Favro

David Favro, April 09, 1998

French Trains

My wife and I had a wonderful experience cycling from Chartres to Bordeaux. We planned to ship our bike back to Paris for our return flight out of Orly Field. We obtained a bike box at the Bordeaux airport after lying about our flight on Air France (shameful but necessary). It was the only bike box at the airport but it was large enough for two bikes, minus the front wheels which we carried with us. We paid approximately 235 Ff for the bikes to be sent as baggage and assumed they would go to the same train station, Gare Montparnasse, as us. This was the train station from which we could load the bikes on the Air France bus to transport all of us to Orly. Wrong. We were informed that the bikes would go to Gare Austerlitz and we would have to transport them across town. It was not a large problem but it cost of 100 Ff. to hire two taxis to make the trip, bikes in one cab and us in the other. The up side of this was that the train station stored our bikes in baggage for the entire four days we were in Paris at no additional charge. It was just another little biker challenge.

Pat and Lloyd Wheeler, November 10, 1997

American Airlines

On a recent trip to France we made a special request to our travel agent to have our bikes travel with us at no additional charge. He was able to book a rate of approx $750. We retrieved boxes from the local bike store and packed them fairly tight adding some additional cardboard and packing our sleeping bags and pads around the bike. We arrived about 3 hours early to check through. There were no problems or questions about the weight and size at BWI.

When we arrived in Paris we were directed to a special door where large packages are delivered and our boxes were there. One was in good condition with a few small tears and the other looked as though it had been through a small war - several large tears and the top shoved down. Fortunately nothing was damaged which may be due in part to the additional padding.

On the way home 6 weeks later we followed the same routing of checking into Orly about 3 hours early and had no problems. This time we were using bike boxes purchased from the airlines at $20 each. The boxes were larger and so we dumped more gear in with the bikes. When we received the boxes at BWI they were pretty banged up - torn, bent, tape missing and large openings. Nothing was missing or damaged but we were fortunate. Part of the problem may have been due to the additional weight. Overall, once the bikes were at the airport, that part of the trip for the bikes was OK with American.

Pat and Lloyd Wheeler, November 05, 1997

Bike Friday

Cathy and I took two Bike Fridays to France for a two-week tour of the Loire Valley. Due to a last-minute injury, I did not feel capable of riding the whole tour as planned so we rented a little car also. The Fridays travelled securely and innocuously in their suitcases and assembly was quick and painless. During the tour it was not necessary to disassemble the bikes. Even in a little Renault hatchback they fit on top of their suitcases in the "quick fold" condition.

Lots of head-turning in France. No airline damage either way, no hassle about deflating the tires or extra charges. All-in-all the easiest trip abroad with bikes I've ever had. We did not use the trailer, just panniers.

George Farnsworth, September 22, 1997

St. Malo, France

George,
I doubt if you'll recall but sometime ago I mentioned that if I found any good out-of-port routes I would let you know. well, here's my route out of the ferry port at St Malo heading south towards Rennes. It avoids the main N137 highway and takes you along a beautiful coast road down the estuary towards Dinan.
South from St Malo: Leaving the ferry terminal, turn right at the roundabout along Rue Georges Clemenceau. When you reach the No Entry signs after about 100 metres, turn right into Rue Dauphine. Follow this along a cobbled street until you reach a Stop sign.
Turn right into Rue de Siam which becomes Rue des Bas Sablons. After about 50 metres turn left into Rue Amiral Magon. At the open air market, veer to the right, past a cafe, into Rue Duperre. Then take the left turn into Rue Jean 23e.
Follow this until you reach a small market square, Place Marechal Leclerc Here, veer off to the right, along Rue Ville Pepin. At the next roundabout, turn right, then almost immediately left, into Boulevard du Rosais.
At the second crossroads, turn left down Rue de la Chesnaie. At the next junction, turn right, along Boulevard de la Rance. This will take you underneath the D168. Just after the underpass, turn left, signposted Quelmer. You are now on a lovely undulating road which will take you south, almost parallel with the N137, towards St Suliac and Port St Jean, where an old suspension bridge runs almost alongside the new bridge carrying the highway east towards St Brieuc. From there, depending on whether you plan to head west or east, there are lots of quiet roads to choose from.
Please feel free to use this on your site if you think it's suitable.

Regards
Rob

Rob McIvor, September 15, 1997

Czech Airlines (CSA)

Can't answer your other questions, but when I flew on Czech Airlines (CSA) the Air France people at the Heathrow check-in (with whom CSA had some arrangement) insisted I box the bike. I ended up going to another terminal for the box, put the bike in okay, but it was a bank holiday, organization was minimal and as a result of my innately British tendency to wait patiently in line, I eventually missed the deadline for checking in for my specified flight!

Having said that, they put me on a later flight and the bike arrived with no problems. Again, the advice given elsewhere about finding airline regulations - and ideally obtaining a copy in writing - is undoubtedly very sane.

Matt

Matt King, June 13, 1997

Luxembourg (Findel)

As a side note on airports. We, in the East of France, often consider Luxemburg International Airport when going to the US. This is a very small airport (one where you still walk on the tarmac to board planes), a few miles from French, German and Belgium borders, and Luxemburg city. Although I've only been there by car, I don't think there is any problem to bike to the airport (basically, the access is a regular road, not a freeway!). Icelandair has a daily service to Boston, Baltimore and a few other places, British Airways used to have also a regular service (not sure what it is nowadays).

Admitedly, the North-East of France is not the most popular cycling place of France, but tourers interested in Alsace, les Vosges, Schwartzwald (Germany) and Rhine valley ay consider this entry option.

Bonne route,
Jean-Pierre Jacquot CRIN (Centre de Recherche en Informatique de Nancy)
Chef du Departement d'Informatique de l'Universite Henri Poincare
post: CRIN B.P. 239 F-54506 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy Cedex France
phone:+33 83.59.20.16 fax: +33 83.41.30.79

Jean-Pierre Jacquot, June 11, 1997

Bike Rental -- Dijon

If you want to rent a bike in France , here two addresses in Dijon:
Tillot R (SA) 11 avenue Jean-Jaurès, Tel: 03 80 41 53 11
Cycles Degueurce, 4 boul.de l'Université, Tel: 03 80 65 18 88

GILLES CHAMPAGNE, June 08, 1997

French Trains -- TGV

Many thanks to all the folks who gave advice about taking bikes on the French rail system. I have since found the French national railway's web site. Evidently there is a new policy on bicycles. [ outdated URL removed ]

It sounds like you can just carry your (boxed) bike onto the TGV. Does anyone know if the "cases spéciales à l'extrémité des voitures" "pour les bagages les plus volumineux" are big enough for bicycles?

You can check your bike for 35F. You can also "enregistre" your bike for 135F (boxed) or 180F (unboxed), but I'm not sure exactly what that means. It's probably not an option anyway, since delivery is only guaranteed in 1 to 5 working days.

Alan Bloom

ALAN BLOOM, May 27, 1997

Tandems -- Britrail or other European trains

"Mark H. Ebell, M.D., M.S." wrote (écrivait) : > Has anyone gotten a tandem on a Britrail or other European train? Are they allowed?

No problems in France when you send it as "bagage accompagne'" (the price list mention tandems, the price is the same as one bike). I don't think there are problems for the the trains that accept bikes (local trains and a few long-distance ones).

I have noticed last year that the local trains in Scotland do not accept tandems.

Jean-Pierre Jacquot, May 26, 1997

Bike Friday

We traveled extensively across France last summer with our Bike Fridays in their suitcases. No problem. just another suitcase.

We did transfer from train station to train station in Paris by taxi, each of us had a large backpack, a bike friday suitcase, a pannier and a day pack. These transfers were quick and not terribly expensive.

We used both TGVs and regular SNCF trains. We even took the through TGV to Brussels and switched to a local train there. Our Bike Friday always arrived with us.

John and (Of course you don't just change trains in Paris, you change train stations.) Marty Volz
Santa Rosa CA

John & Marty Volz, May 25, 1997

RER from Charles deGaulle

In August 1995 I returned to Canada from CDG. When I enquired about bikes being allowed on the RER I was told they were allowed, but not during peak hours. Unfortunately my flight was leaving mid-morning so I would be travelling during the morning rush hour! I decided to cycle to a hotel near CDG one day before my departure, but just for the fun of it I decided to give the RER a try before I set out ( the prospect of cycling across Paris didn't thrill me:-)). I left my bike propped against a nearby wall as I bought my ticket, then as I pushed my bike to a nearbye turnstile under the watchful eyes of a couple of security guards, an RER employee came up to me. Instead of the expected reprimand he kindly offered to unlock the turnstile so that I wouldn't have to lift my fully loaded bike over it. This happened at 9am, during the height of the morning rush, but unfortunately one can't count on getting a bike through at this time of day.

Dilip Banerjee, May 24, 1997

Paris, France

The key is to understand the mentality of the average French driver, and insurance law. Paris drivers are bold, and will eat you alive if you aren't. But if you hold your position on the road, you'll find they'll respect you. Besides, during the day in Paris traffic moves quite slowly; a bike can easily keep up. Also, a Parisian friend told me that because of the informal "guilt before innocence" assumption in French law, and the fact that any traffic accident can be a multi-year drag for all drivers, French auto-pilots will do almost anything to avoid a crash. This, perhaps, explains why French drivers give cyclists a lot of lateral leeway while passing.

Hugh Macaulay, May 04, 1997

Tricycles on Trains in Europe

There are massive differences between the treatment of bicycles and of tricycles. In the UK, bicycles can be taken onto most trains outside rush hours but tricycles typically can only be taken onto trains with guards vans (InterCity trains and very few local trains). This is OK for long-distance travel but you may have to cycle into and out of the cities to get to a station.
In Germany, bicycles can be taken onto all local trains, most InterRegio and very few InterCity trains, making long-distance transportation a problem. About half of these trains are capable of transporting a trike but it is rather difficult to find out which ones. I haven't had much problems with my Kingcycle with front and rear fairing though. It should be possible to send your trikes ahead (this used to be the standard way of getting your bike to a holiday destination).
I think in the Netherlands and in Belgium you can take a bicycle onto almost every train. I assume that again trikes are too bulky for some types of trains.
In France and most of Scandinavia, you have to send the bike in advance though in Scandinavia you can almost rely on the bike being on the same train as you; in France you have to send it two or three days ahead.
Only a limited number of international trains take bicycles; on other trains you may have to get off before the border and get on again on the other side (while the intra-Schengen borders are not manned any more, they still exist in buerocrat's heads).
Rolf

Mr. Rolf-Martin Mantel, May 01, 1997

UK Rail

Judy Colwell Judy.Colwell@stanford.edu> asked the mailing list: > Isn't it interesting...in the UK (at least a couple of years ago...perhaps Paul or other UK folks can comment further), you just roll your bike onto the "guard van" (baggage car), strap it to secure it (bungey cord or whatever), and roll it off at your destination.

If you can put your bikes on a train, that's more or less how you do it. However, the situation has been going downhill for some time now. Increasingly many trains either don't carry bikes (a lot of the newer light-rail stock on the branch lines has no space at all), or carry only a seriously-limited number, maybe at seriously-restricted times. (In many cases, this seriously-limited number is '1', which is not much better than none since most touring folk seem to ride in groups of at least 2 or 3.)
In most cases where bikes can be carried, you need to 'reserve' bike spaces on a specific train, which has killed off a lot of our spontaneous train use. ('Reserve' in quotes, since under the terms of the rail companies' ticket contracts, the 'reservation' doesn't actually guarantee that they will let your bike on the train - that's still up to the discretion of the guard. There's even a special dispensation in the general consumer-protection laws to allow them to get away with this. They can even sell you a ticket and then refuse to honour - or refund - it. They are normally not *that* unreasonable, but the mere fact that they've been given that exemption says something about attitude.)
It *is* still possible to combine bikes and trains in the UK (at least for small groups) but it now requires more planning ahead, and it's not a good idea to plan a trip which actually requires you to get onto a specific train, e.g. to get back to the airport 'just in time'. You have to plan in some slack.
The CTC and other groups are applying pressure to try to get things improved, with some hope of success, though I doubt they'll ever get back to the old 'just ride up to the station and get on a train' days. For a bikes-on-trains heaven, try the Irish Republic. 🙂

Paul Smee, May 01, 1997

Paris, France (Orly)

Bike was in a standard shipping box from a local bike store (Lemond big and bold on the side) and had no one stop me. Apparently (from reading only) problems occur when the bike is not in a box (RE:France, the Rough Guide).

The rear of the bus from Orly to the Metro station was big enough for 4 or 5 of these bike boxes.

The TGV trains are more restrictive. We did not use that train. We used a "slow train" between Paris and Blois. There was a car with a sticker on the side that indicated a spot for a boxed bike. I spoke briefly to one of the train employees and he said the dimensions of my box were ok...he'd taken a long look at the box and then referred to his manual.

Using the Metro was the toughest. There are special doors at the end of the turnstiles that allow you to get large items through. There is little room for big stuff on the Metro. We just crammed ourselves and the box(es) in at the door. One employee helped us get on our way so they didn't seem to care about the size.

Buying the ticket to Blois, I asked one ticket agent about the bikes in the box and he said we couldn't do it. I went to information and he said, it was not a problem "in a box". I went back to another agent at the other end of the counter and bought my tickets without mentioning any bikes or boxes.

I returned from Blois with an additional Ironcase with bike. It is smaller and therefore easier to get around with...several interested people and very curious about what was in it...I think it was generally considered very cool to be hauling a bike around in a box like this.

Again, TGV is something I don't know about from experience. From reading, you have to send the bike ahead (boxed) and it can take several days as well as costing you Francs for shipping. There are "auto trains" that will allow you to carry the bikes as unaccompanied baggage.

Next time I hope to have a bike in a suitcase (using S&S couplings).

You didn't ask but...I saw several hotels with signs mentioning garage space for bicycles, compris. Seems that they are set up for this kind of thing.
- Alan

Alan Gould, April 29, 1997

Paris Rental


Reputable and not far from Odeon (but not right there either) is Paris-Velo, Rue du Fer-à-Moulin (tel. 43 37 59 22). It is an easy walk; else metro to Censier-Daubenton if you are lazy.
Regards
Les
Washington DC Les, April 23, 1997

Milan, Italy

Thanks to terrorist bombings, there are no longer left luggage facilities at most airports, including Malpensa in Milan. There is a left luggage service at most major train stations in Italy and France. At the Milano Centrale station, there is an attended room where you check your luggage and pay for its storage by the piece. Cost is about $2 per item for a 12 hour period. If you can put everything inside of one case it counts as only one piece and you can save some money. There is no size limit since it's not a locker. The items go behind the counter in a secure room and you get a claim ticket to retreive it when upon your return. In Italian, the service is called "Consegna Bagali". Good luck!

Lori Vendinello & Howard Turoff, Directors, LA CORSA TOURS
Bike Tours & Vacations Designed for Real Cyclists! 1-800 - LA CORSA
http://www.lacorsa.com

Lori, March 17, 1997

RER from Charles deGaulle

Them's the rules. Now this is France, and so of course rules are routinely ignored.

In practice, I don't think there will be any problem taking the bike through Paris to Gare de Lyon. That's because the entire trip will be on RER trains, and if you go to one of the end vestibules with your bike and you're not in people's way, I highly doubt anyone will complain. If you come upon a ticket inspector (not likely) the very worst thing they will do in this case is tell you that you're not supposed to do it and please don't do it in the future. Also, the connection to Gare de Lyon from CDG is a trivial one. You take the RER from the airport to Chatelet-Les Halles (one stop after Gare du Nord, which is the first stop within Paris), and then just transfer to any train across the platform, where you go one stop to Gare de Lyon. So you don't have to fuss about with the metro, with complicated interchange stations, etc.

Taking one's bike on the metro (or switching from RER to metro with it) is substantially less simple, since metro trains are smaller and have no obvious place where you can put your bike without getting in everyone's way. And you have to pass through these horrendous ticket-barrier devices when changing from RER to metro, where it might be difficult if impossible to get your bike through (and staff are bound to notice).

Hope this helps,
Allon Percus

Hugh Macaulay, March 05, 1997

French Trains

Several people have written about having to ship their bikes ahead of time on the SNCF routes. That is true, unless you have the flexibility and fortitude to take the midnight train. If you do this, you and your bike can be on the same train and arrive together. Oh happy day.

I remember coming back from the Dordogne and getting the midnight train. We were on the train platform not knowing if this train was really going to come or not. A non-stop freight train came barreling thru and just about knocked us off the platform. Finally, the right train shows up, we see our bikes loaded aboard, and away we go. I would recommend you resevere a 1st class seat; we thought we would economize and get 2nd class seats. Well, at that time of night, the 2nd class seats are filled with sleeping laborers who want to stretch out. We were able to get some sleep, but not the best. We arrived back in Paris about 5:00 AM, when it was too dark to bike from the station. Had breakfast at the station and watched the sun rise. Then we biked in the Paris dawn to our hotel, thru streets that were not yet teeming with the hustle and bustle of cars. All in all, a good experience.

I was not happy, however, with the way that SNCF handled the bikes on the way down, since I saw them stack bike upon bike in a big pile. Many of the bikes were kids bikes, but ours were good touring bikes. Next time I will pay a little bit extra for the cardboard skirt that will provide some protection.

Andrew Schwartz, March 01, 1997

Trains in France, Switzerland, Germany

A couple of people asked for train info pages to help plan bike trips in Europe -- here's what I've found for France, Switzerland & Germany:
France:
The SNCF, the national rail system, is at http://www.sncf.fr. follow the references. check especially . . ./voy/service/velo.htm --there is an English version but if you can handle the French that page has more info, including schedules of trains that accept bikes free. they now promise to put their schedule search online by summer; no info on whether it will include bike transport info.
Germany:

Rlesnik, February 15, 1997

Continental Airlines

Speaking of bikes. On the trip over, Continental wanted our bikes boxed. So, off with the handle bars, pedals, front wheel and front fender. On our return trip to the U.S., via Air Inter (BOD-ORL), their box(although cardboard), more resembled the type of armor thrown over the horse in the medieval jousting contest. The handle bars(unturned) and the seat stuck out from the top. All that came off were the pedals. In fact, the Air Inter personnel just wheeled the bikes out the door(with reduced air pressure). Continental had no problem accepting this arrangement when it was their turn. When is a box not a box, but accepted as one?

In St. Emillion, we bumped into two bikers from Quebec, who flew over on Air France. They said all they did was take the pedals off, and the ground crew just wheeled theirs on, hanging them up on a rack.

Hopes this adds to your data base. If anyone has any inquiries regarding our self tour in Bordeaux, let them know that I will offer any knowledge that I acquired.

Alan Zelt, October 16, 1996

Paris, France (de Gaulle)

Thanks very much for your info. You are doing a great service to cyclists.

Here is some info that may be of interest to you. The main point, to be quick about it, is that you cannot expect to take two bikes (or more) packaged in large airline boxes on the bus that runs from Paris out to the airports. There simply is not enough room in the luggage bins under the bus to accommodate two large bike boxes and the luggage of other passengers. At certain times there may not even be room for one!

The long version of the story: When we arrived in Paris we had no trouble taking our bikes by bus into the city. We had packed them ourselves in standard commercial bike boxes two of which fit rather easily into the "hold" of the bus. For reasons I will not go into, we were not able to retrieve these same boxes when we returned to Paris, nor could we find any at local bike shops. For the lack of a better alternative we trudged out to CDG and obtained two flattened-out bike boxes from TWA. We transported these by RER and METRO to the Gare Montparnasse (near our hotel) where we disassembled the bikes and boxed them.

"Oh, how easy this is," we said to one another as we repackaged our bikes: the boxes were much larger than the ones in which we had brought our bikes from home! We stored the boxed bikes overnight in the baggage consigne in the Gare Montparnasse. In the morning we pushed them a few hundred yards to the bus stop outside the station. When the bus arrived. the driver explained that he had room for only one of the large boxes. (Two might have fit, but that would have meant that all the other passengers would have had to have carried their baggage on their laps.) I let the driver know that there would be a substantial gratuity for him were he to somehow sqeeze both bikes in. But he replied, in essence, "It is not a question of money, sir, but of space."

Not knowing what to do, I shrugged my shoulders and said to both myself and him, "I guess I will have to abandon one of the bikes." A concerned expression came over the face of the driver. He thought for a moment, and, still distaining the proffered money, opened the rear emergency door of the bus. Together we lifted the second bike inside. We got both bikes to the airport on time. I will never forget this bus driver, a man whose helpfulness reflects the spirit of French generosity and flexibility that few American tourists have a chance to see. I would warn other bikers, however, not to count on replaying this scenario.

The bus we took was not full. Had it been, there would have been no possibility for the driver to have helped us. Moreover, what the driver did was well beyond the duties required of him. I would advise fellow bikers in our situation to use small boxes or to take their bikes out to the airport well ahead of flight time and box them there. I am not sure whether you can take them on the RER--in any case I would check as there are usually restrictions for rush hours.

Harry Brent

Harold Brent, September 06, 1996

Paris, France

Thanks very much for your info. You are doing a great service to cyclists.

Here is some info that may be of interest to you. The main point, to be quick about it, is that you cannot expect to take two bikes (or more) packaged in large airline boxes on the bus that runs from Paris out to the airports. There simply is not enough room in the luggage bins under the bus to accommodate two large bike boxes and the lugage of other passengers. At certain times there may not even be room for one!

The long version of the story: When we arrived in Paris we had no trouble taking our bikes by bus into the city. We had packed them ourselves in standard commercial bike boxes two of which fit rather easily into the "hold" of the bus. For reasons I will not go into, we were not able to retreive these same boxes when we returned to Paris, nor could we find any at local bike shops. For the lack of a better alternative we trudged out to CDG and obtained two flattened-out bike boxes from TWA. We transported these by RER and METRO to the Gare Montparnasse (near our hotel) where we disassembled the bikes and boxed them.

"Oh, how easy this is," we said to one another as we repackaged our bikes: the boxes were much larger than the ones in which we had brought our bikes from home! We stored the boxed bikes overnight in the baggage consigne in the Gare Montparnasse. In the morning we pushed them a few hundred yards to the bus stop outside the station. When the bus arrived. the driver explained that he had room for only one of the large boxes. (Two might have fit, but that would have meant that all the other passengers would have had to have carried their baggage on their laps.) I let the driver know that there would be a substantial gratuity for him were he to somehow sqeeze both bikes in. But he replied, in essence, "It is not a question of money, sir, but of space."

Not knowing what to do, I shrugged my shoulders and said to both myself and him, "I guess I will have to abandon one of the bikes." A concerned expression came over the face of the driver. He thought for a moment, and, still distaining the proffered money, opened the rear emergency door of the bus. Together we lifted the second bike inside. We got both bikes to the airport on time. I will never forget this bus driver, a man whose helpfulness reflects the spirit of French generosity and flexibility that few American tourists have a chance to see. I would warn other bikers, however, not to count on replaying this scenario.

The bus we took was not full. Had it been, there would have been no possibility for the driver to have helped us. Moreover, what the driver did was well beyond the duties required of him. I would advise fellow bikers in our situation to use small boxes or to take their bikes out to the airport well ahead of flight time and box them there. I am not sure whether you can take them on the RER--in any case I would check as there are usually restrictions for rush hours.

Harry Brent

Harold Brent, September 06, 1996

Paris, France (Orly)

I can update Steve's reply as I took the same route in early July of this year. I would add that to find the magic door at Orly that leads to the N7 piste cyclable, go downstairs and look for the post office. You'll probably be arriving in the morning so you'll have plently of time to ride to the Port D'Italie and to the Gare d'Lyon by Noon. Of course, Mac's suggestion about the ORLY VAL service also works, especially if you want to leave your bike in the box until after your train trip.

I'm not sure where you're going from the Gare d'Lyon, but if you're heading for Lyon I can tell you that to bring your bike with you on the TGV to Lyon, you'll need a special TGV bag, which is too much of a pain. I don't recommend ever entrusting your bike to SNCF unless you load it yourself on the sane train.
There's a great train that will get you pretty far south that leaves the Gare d'Lyon for Clermont-Ferrand, a little west of Lyon. This is one of the few long distance trains that you can load your bike on gratuit. At the Gare, go to the SNCF information and get the Guide du Trein et Velo and its Supplement.
Congratulations on choosing France for your cycling. Over the past 6 years, I've logged over 10,000 kilometers in France. It's the best! Warm dry summers in the south, excellent Michelin maps (the yellow ones), and a real respect for cyclists. Maybe you've left already, if not, reply with your intended route and maybe I can give some help.
Hope this helps. Enjoy!
Raymond Mino
Raymond Mino, August 23, 1996

Paris, France (Orly)

I cycled it back in 1979. I will give you the route. First, some caution. I regularly cycled in New York City so I was used to cycling in traffic. Also, I knew Paris and had driven in France. The direction signs and stop light placement are slightly different in France. If you are not used to them you may get confused.

First, there was (is) a cycle path into Orly. You can reach it from inside the South Terminal (Orly-Sud). Look for signs for the No. 285 Autobus. Go down the flight of stairs. You should now be on the cycle path. It is in the center median of the N7 highway. Follow the cycle path out of the airport. Be sure that you are heading North towards Paris.

N.B. the access roads to Orly are the autoroute and the N7. Unfortunately, the road around the terminal area connects to the autoroute. The N7 runs in the center of the autoroute. Get some Michelin maps before you leave, if you can. The 101 shows the airport area and the 10 is a street map of Paris. There is also a southeast outskirts map. I have not seen it in a long time and don't know if it covers the airport.

After you are safely out of the airport, continue on N7. It has heavy traffic. Keep following the signs for Villejuif, Kremlin-Bicerte and Porte d'Italie (Paris). French road signs do not always show the route number. They show the names of the next few towns.

The Porte d'Italie is the city limits of Paris. Continue straight onto the avenue d'Italie to the next square - Place d'Italie. Go around the square and turn right on the 4th street - boulevard de l'Hopital. N.B. the street signs are on the buildings - not the lamp posts. Follow bd de l'Hopital down to the Seine. You will pass the Gare d'Austerlitz on this side of the Seine. You are on the Left Bank. Cross over the Seine onto the Right Bank on the Pont d'Austerlitz.

The Gare de Lyon should be in sight. It is 2 blocks to your right and 1 block ahead, as soon as you cross over the Seine. The one-way signs are not clear on my map. Try turning right on the quai de la Rapee then the 1st left onto the boulevard Diderot. This should land you in front of the Gare de Lyon within 1 block.

It is 2-3 km on the cycle path inside Orly. Then another 7 km to the Porte d'Italie and then another 4 or 5 km to the station.

Bonne route!

Steve

Stephen Bauman, August 20, 1996

British Midland Airlines

When the tour was over, I flew out of Nice airport for London via British Midland. My friend and I were going to box our bikes the night before leaving and store them at left-luggage at the airport but found out that because of security, left-luggage was indefinitely closed. BTW, we had to buy boxes from Air France (50F each), as BM does not supply boxes. When my bike arrived at Heathrow, it had been opened by the bottom and left upsidedown untaped. I assume security had a look at it, but the least they could have done was tape it up and right it. The agent at BM gave me tape to redo it. As I was spending a week in London without the bike, I was ecstatic to learn that left-luggage at Heathrow was open. This meant I didn't have to find a way to get my bike into London, which I hear can be a hassle. For 3L a day I left the bike box there. A week later I had to get the box from that terminal to another, via a shuttle bus. The driver of the bus lifted the box on and off the shuttle--a lot more helpful than his French counterparts. Flew home via BA and happy to say that, other than cosmetic frame gouges, the bike is in good shape.

One more thing. With BM, there is only room on each flight for 3 bikes, and it's first come first served.

Robin Reid, July 22, 1996

French Trains

Regarding train travel, we took a few short trips from Perigieux to Angouleme. These was a small regional line, so we could carry our bikes onto the trains ourselves (no small feat considering they were fully loaded). Bikes go in the last car. When we took a train from Les Eyzies to St. Raphael, we had to ship the bikes seperately and they had to be in boxes, which the stations will sell to you. We bought the sort of box that kind of wraps around the bike, leaving the wheels free to turn. This box was less expensive than the full box, and all the stationmaster had. We shipped all our camping gear in a separate box for another 90f. The stationmaster said that it takes 4 days for anything to get anywhere in France. You could ship your bike 10 km or 500 km, it would still take 4 days. The evening of the 4th day in St. Raphael our bikes apparently still hadn't shown up. As we were leaving the baggage room *extremely* disappointed, I noticed the bikes in a corner of the room. Had I not seen them we wouldn't have gotten them until the next day.

Robin Reid, July 22, 1996

Paris, France (de Gaulle)

Buy Michelin map 101, which shows the area in great detail (1 cm = 1 km) If it's not inconvenient, take the D401 out of the airport, heading east, to avoid the worst of the traffic and to get out of the Paris area as quickly as possible. If possible, choose an airline that will fly into the terminal which is furthest east - I think it's called Terminal 9. We have found drivers very considerate of us as we negotiate the roads around the airport.

Wallis, Susan, April 11, 1996

Nantes, France

Nantes (France - Loire): Easy exit, little traffic, but the most obvious exit leads to an autoroute!
Mike Bedard Ottawa, Canada

Mike Bedard, January 28, 1996

Bike Rental -- Loire Valley

I have done three bike trips in France -- twice I brought my own bike. This past June, my wife and I (honeymoon) followed the advice in Simpson's "Cycling France" book and rented bikes. We rented from Cycles Leblond in Blois (Loire Valley), a shop recommended by Simpson. We arranged for the rentals in advance -- via fax. Simpson provides good info on how to do this, including the necessary "bicycle French." The bikes were serviceable-- I rode a circa 1980 (?) Motebecane, 10-speed, hi-tensile frame. Monsieur Leblond supplied a rear rack, which while not nearly as sturdy as my Blackburn, did the job The bikes were serviceable and adequate for our 6-day Loire (flat) trip. However, for a longer trip or for more demanding terrain, I would certainly have wanted my own bike. Cost-- 50ff per day (about $10).

In Blois, we saw 2 other shops which rented bikes-- mostly mountain bikes-- personally, I prefer touring on a road bike.

Jonathan Einbinder, September 21, 1995

Paris, France (Orly)

R>
Access: doubtful/bus
Contact: Michele Faison

It is very easy to get into Paris from either airport by Air France bus ($6 or $7 from Orly) which stops at a couple of train stations and other central locations, a city bus from Orly, commuter train/subway ($8 or so) and bus/commuter train ($6 or $7). The latter serves both airports. I have detailed info at home which I can have handy at work if someone wants to contact me about it. The bus is much easier with a bike. (The train stations have stairs and escalators...few have elevators)

Flying in/out of Orly with the bike has proven much easier than CdG, and Orly is much closer to the city, particularly the Left Bank and the Montparnasse train station.


Contact: Jocelyne Cormier
Date: 15 Jun 1994 01:18:58 -0000

Underneath the Airport there is a special path for bicycles parallel to the autoroute. There is a fence that protects you. It is very easy to get out even if it is noisy. The first time I went there, I did not know about this exit under the airport (and had trouble to get out). Ask people for the *Piste cyclable*.

29 Jan 1996
From: Mike Bedard mkbedard@magmacom.com

We cycled out there once (very early in the morning). Crossing the 6 lanes of autoroute at the airport was not a pleasant experience. Instead, take Orly-Rail from Gare d'Austerlitz.
Paris (CdeG): Take the RER from Gare du Nord and the navette from the train station to the aerogare. Mike Bedard Ottawa, Canada

Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 22:41:14 -0400
From: wilson bill bwilson@gl.umbc.edu
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.rides

I flew into Orly last year and biked out on the route that runs under the airport--I think it is route N7. I wanted to head in the northeast towards Reims, but headed south from the airport thinking I would more easily find a close campground. I ended up heading back north anyway for a campground. Next time, I will exit north out of the airport and then east.
There are campgrounds everywhere in France, but there are not as many near Paris as I thought (except for the one in Paris). Although everything worked out ok for me (a campground after about 20 miles, that first day), I would recommend knowing before hand where you are going, how far you can travel after a plane flight, etc.
N7 also goes into Paris. As for mass transit and the bike, I got conflicting responses when I asked whether I could take a bike or not. So on my return (I actually visited Paris only the last few days of my trip), I just biked to the airport
A note also, when returning. My airline for that trip, Icelandair, promised me a box for the return flight. But when I arrived at the airport for the return flight, no one knew about any boxes being available. I ended-up getting the bike bubble-plastic wrapped, which was quite alright--just remember to have those francs ready!
Bill Wilson
Internet: bwilson@gl.umbc.edu

Date: 2 Oct 1995 23:22:34 GMT
From: Hubert Halkin hhalkin@ucsd.edu
Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.rides

I have done the following several times and it worked very well for me: Fly into Orly to arrive in the morning. Take the RER from (nearby) Orly as far as the line goes in the SW direction. (I always walked my bicycle directly into RER: no problem in that direction and at that time of the day). It is then a short hop to Orleans on your bicycle.
Cheers.
Hubert Halkin
Department of Mathematics
UCSD, La Jolla, CA 92093-0112 USA. phone:(619) 534-2622
hhalkin@ucsd.edu

Jocelyne Cormier, June 14, 1994

French Trains

Used local trains in the Loire Valley, Dordogne, and into Bordeaux. No fees, just put the bike on the train in baggage area and take it off yourself.

George Farnsworth, April 25, 1994

RER from Charles deGaulle

It is very easy to get into Paris from either airport by Air France bus ($6 or $7 from Orly) which stops at a couple of train stations and other central locations, a city bus from Orly, commuter train/subway ($8 or so) and bus/commuter train ($6 or $7). The latter serves both airports. I have detailed info at home which I can have handy at work if someone wants to contact me about it. The bus is much easier with a bike. (The train stations have stairs and escalators...few have elevators)

Flying in/out of Orly with the bike has proven much easier than CdG, and Orly is much closer to the city, particularly the Left Bank and the Montparnasse train station.

Arriving at CdG (on United), I had to wait an HOUR for my bike, and the plane was already 2 hours late--people on a tight touring schedule were waiting for me. When the time came to return home, airport security had me completely unpack the bike (I had it disassembled in a Performance hard case) and pass individual sections through the x-ray machine. I nearly missed my flight, trying to get everything back together again (they waited until the very last minute, when the flight was almost ready to board, to ask me to do this...I had packed all my cycling gear and all the books I had bought in the case with the bike...what a nightmare). Admittedly, I had none of these problems when I flew Air France, but Orly is just more convenient.

The Performance case is large and awkward, but it sure protects the bike and gives room for packing other stuff. A buckle broke and an inner strap pulled off in use, and Performance replaced the entire case for me (I'd had it 18 months) although it was quite usable as it was. The French used bicycle boxes and soft cases. Didn't see any damage from the soft bags, but the boxes got pretty mangled just going from Paris to Porto, and again from Lisbon to Paris. I don't think any real damage was done to the bikes, though.
Michele Faison

Michele Faison, April 11, 1994

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *