I'll be embarking on my first tour (solo) on May 15. I'll be doing my Ph.D. dissertation research in the Poitou-Charentes region of France and have a couple different home bases set up so I can stash most of my gear and take my small set of panniers around to the towns I'll be studying. My big problem is getting the bike to Melle (which is about 40 miles south/southwest of Poitiers) where my first home base is located. I'll be flying into Paris (CDG), but I'll be darned if I can figure out what to do with my bike. The two options I have are as follows:
1. I fly in with my bike in the cargo hold of the plane. I've heard it's a game of chance getting onto a bus or train that will allow bikes in France (and I'm on a fairly tight schedule, so I can't wait for several trains or buses to come and go before one will take my bike). I suppose I could ride down from Paris, but what do I do with my bike box? I've been told there are not storage lockers anymore at the airports. Because I'm new to travel and touring and I'm absolutely in love with my bike, I'm not a "throw it in a cardboard box/put it in a plastic bag" person. Just...no. So, I claim my bike, drag it through customs and then...what? If I can just get it to Melle, I can store the box there.
2. I can ship it directly to my lodging in Melle via DHL (this would be so convenient), but am I correct in my calculations that shipping the bike from Indiana to Melle would be upwards of $500 each way?!?
The transport of the bike has been by far the most confounding part of this trip, but people must do this kind of thing all the time. Any advice (including "Calm down!") will be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much, touring gurus!