Bikes on trains in France

Low Gear Guy

Senior Member
Location
Surrey
About this time of year I start planning my summer trip. I have several possible ideas subject to persuading the family that I won't be needed for a short period. Does anyone have practical experience of travel on trains in France with bikes?

For local TER trains the journey planners state that cycle spaces on the train are limited. Is it likely that I will be unable to get on the train? One of the routes I was looking at only has three trains a day so I don't want to be waiting for the next service. Does the train guard mind bikes in t

For most TGV trains bikes must be placed in a suitable bag. The stated maximum dimensions are 120 cm x 90 cm. Is there a limit on the depth of the final package? The luggage shelf on the train doesn't look big enough to cope with many bikes. Would there be any advantage in booking first class as there seems to be only 5€ difference in the advance fares? This isn't my preferred option as I would have to deal with a bike in a bag in addition to camping gear and carry the bike bag around but the trains are quite fast and I could get to and from the south of France within one day.

Any thoughts?
 

abcd efg

Active Member
You can book bicycle spaces on TER trains in advance when you book your train tickets. I do this with plenty of advance notice and have never had any problems at all. Not all TGV trains take bikes, but for those that do, you can book in advance as well. There are a number of websites that you can do this with: https://en.oui.sncf/en/ is the official SNCF website.

Cheers
 
OP
Low Gear Guy

Low Gear Guy

Senior Member
Location
Surrey
Thanks for this. I am getting very few bike spaces shown on trains at the moment. This may be due to the current strikes.
 

robgul

Guru
As you suggest the size limt for the "housse" (bike bag) allowed on TGV trains is pretty small for a bike - some TGV trains have wheel on bike spaces, but only on a few routes and AFAIK not those to the Med coast/ S of France.

The SNCF site now seems to be much better in offering bike bookings etc - but not perfect. From my experience most of the TER trains are pretty casual about bikes just being wheeled on with no booking (in fact a lot of services have spaces but you can't book them) - BUT getting to the S on TER is going to be slow and tortuous.

Rob
 
Location
Devon & Die
Depending on your route south, the TGVs can get seriously short of luggage space, as some people seem to bring everything including the kitchen sink with them. I've never seen anyone with a bike bag.
 

Ivo

Well-Known Member
Location
Maastricht
Last season there was an interesting connection from Paris to Toulouse including a night train. Toulouse is a bit of a TER hub for Southern France so you can easily travel onwards from there. It was a very pleasant connection when I took it last year.
For this year the big issue is from Paris up north, nearly all TGV's carrying bikes and long distance TER's don't exist anymore.
 
OP
Low Gear Guy

Low Gear Guy

Senior Member
Location
Surrey
Depending on your route south, the TGVs can get seriously short of luggage space, as some people seem to bring everything including the kitchen sink with them. I've never seen anyone with a bike bag.
I have never seen anyone with a bike bag either which was why I asked the question.

I recently observed a rigid bike bag on use on a GWR IET service. It was too large for the luggage rack and blocked the aisle.
 
Location
Devon & Die
I have never seen anyone with a bike bag either which was why I asked the question.

I recently observed a rigid bike bag on use on a GWR IET service. It was too large for the luggage rack and blocked the aisle.
The newish Ouigo TGV service is trying to address the luggage situation: the tickets are cheap, but you pay for extra, such as large bags, electric sockets etc. Not sure what their service is with bikes. But luggage is almost at crisis on full (normal) TGVs, so I'd certainly not want to risk a bike without a definite space booked in a designated place.
 

Ivo

Well-Known Member
Location
Maastricht
The newish Ouigo TGV service is trying to address the luggage situation: the tickets are cheap, but you pay for extra, such as large bags, electric sockets etc. Not sure what their service is with bikes. But luggage is almost at crisis on full (normal) TGVs, so I'd certainly not want to risk a bike without a definite space booked in a designated place.
When I travelled in october from Paris to Bordeaux I had to fetch a guard because the bike space was completely full with all sorts of oversized suitcases. It took him about 10 minutes to find the owners and create space for my bike. Luckily I had booked a spot for my bike ;).
 
Location
Brussels
We may need to talk about Paris.

Personally, and others may have better experiences, I fund it a dreadful place to transfer across. A a bike in a bag and camping gear are difficult on the Metro or RER and French Taxi, drivers ate not keen on oversize bags, “ against the rules to drop the seat so p off” is about the politest comment I got. Of course if you have time and the bike bag folds up small You could ride across town if you have time .

To avoid the faff, I always try and plan a route with a change outside Paris, depending on where you are coming from and heading to, Charles de Gaulle airport or Marne la Valle (Disneyland Paris) are good for this . The SNCF route planner has a “via station” option that you can plat around with.:okay:
 

TheDoctor

Resistance is futile!
Moderator
Location
Stevenage
I've taken a road bike on a TGV.
The standard bike bag I used needed both wheels off, bars turned, seat post out and that was about it.
Bit of a pain, but not a show-stopper. Admittedly, you'd not want to get involved with mudguards...
 

Ivo

Well-Known Member
Location
Maastricht
We may need to talk about Paris.

Personally, and others may have better experiences, I fund it a dreadful place to transfer across. A a bike in a bag and camping gear are difficult on the Metro or RER and French Taxi, drivers ate not keen on oversize bags, “ against the rules to drop the seat so p off” is about the politest comment I got. Of course if you have time and the bike bag folds up small You could ride across town if you have time .

To avoid the faff, I always try and plan a route with a change outside Paris, depending on where you are coming from and heading to, Charles de Gaulle airport or Marne la Valle (Disneyland Paris) are good for this . The SNCF route planner has a “via station” option that you can plat around with.:okay:
If you want to take the TGV with a bike in a bag to Barcelona, there's another interesting option bypassing Paris with changes in Brussels and Lyon.
 
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