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  1. #1
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    2011 Paris to Rome

    I am starting to fantasize about a trip from Paris to Rome combining bicycling and train. Has anyone done this sort of trip...any suggestions as to where I should start with my planning? All positive input appreciated. Thanks

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I've toured in Europe but not that particular route. Plenty of people have done similar trips. That said, a few suggestions....

    1) Different countries have different rules about taking bikes on trains. E.g. Belgium lets you take a bike on the train for an extra fee; last I heard, you can do it in France but need to bag your bike.

    2) I hope you like mountains, since you need to cross the Alps, and Italy is full of mountains:



    3) A classic new-tourist mistake is the belief they can cover 100 miles a day and get from Paris to Rome in 9 days.

    I'd say a bit more info is needed, such as:

    how much time you have
    are you staying in hotels, or camping, or both
    what's your cycling experience
    are you physically and mentally prepared for major mountains

    Also, you may want to be up for a less ambitious plan, like Paris-to-Berlin, depending on your cycling ability.

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    Baccialupe....thanks for the input . You bring up some great points. I was hoping by taking a southerly route , possibly along the med...it might be a bit flatter, but obviously I have not done all of my homework yet. Much obliged.
    Steve

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    If you are doing the Mediterranean route, and are thinking of taking a train part of the way, be aware that some of the TGV Mediterranee - the high-speed trains from Paris to Marseilles - take bikes. You must make a reservation, though, they have only four bike spaces per train. Last I looked, taking the bike was pretty cheap; and the TGVs are among the best and fastest trains in the world - worth experiencing in their own right, IMO.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  5. #5
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    http://www.seat61.com/
    http://www.ferroviedellostato.it/
    http://www.sncf.com/

    TGV trains are great, every American should ride one to see how high speed rail ought to be done.

    When I was in France (2001) you could take a boxed or bagged (they call the bag a "housse") bicycle on TGV trains, the box/bag had to meet certain size restrictions. My box was over the limit, but I was allowed to take it on anyway. Lots of local trains accept unboxed, unbagged bicycles, but you have to check the schedule to make sure the train you're taking will accept bicycles. Italian high speed/long distance trains do not accept bicycles, but lots of local/regional trains do. Once again, check the schedule and make sure the train you want accepts bicycles.

    Sticking to the coast might save you some climbing, but you'll miss a lot of very pretty country and probably find yourself riding through more urban areas than you want to.

    How long do you plan to take? Are you camping, staying in hostels and hotels, or a mix of the two? Are you going to spend some time sightseeing, or just treat this as a purely athletic endeavor?

    The Lonely Planet Cycling Guides to France and Italy would be excellent resources, even if you don't follow the exact routes laid out in these books.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    1) Different countries have different rules about taking bikes on trains. E.g. Belgium lets you take a bike on the train for an extra fee; last I heard, you can do it in France but need to bag your bike.
    The information concerning France is NOT accurate. Non TGVs typically have hooks to hang a bike wheel, with a grooved area along the wall for the other wheel to be placed into to keep it stationary. You load your bike yourself and it is free. A bicycle insignia on the outside of the car indicates that a rail car has such hooks for bikes. I took these regional trains several times during a trip to France just 2 months ago. Couldn't have been easier.

    As for TGVs, on some routes you can bring a bike, and you must pay a 10 euro fee. Most TGV routes don't accept bikes, however. You can check the SNCF website for a particular route. I took a TGV this year on a route (Paris->Avignon) which didn't accept bikes, but I have a folding bike so it wasn't a problem for me.

    I would urge you to not follow the Mediterranean from Nice to Genoa. The traffic is awful. The Italian Riviera is totally built-up and very unpleasant for cycling.

    The nicer parts of Italy for cycling are, alas, the hillier parts of the country. I didn't find the Po valley particularly interesting compared to the hills and mountains of Italy. The Adriatic coast is better than the French border-Genoa coastline, but not fabulous for cycling, either.

    Similarly, I'm not that keen on the Rhone valley of France scenery-wise, though there at least, you can find quiet roads if you look carefully on maps.

    If you don't want to cross an Alpine pass, you can put your bike on a shuttle train under the Simplon Pass connecting the upper Rhone valley in Switzerland with Italy. It takes about 20 minutes for the ride from Brig (CH) to Iselle (I).

    There is a large network of bike routes, paths, and canal paths in Burgundy which might appeal to you since they offer flat cycling with pretty scenery in a non-flat landscape.

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    Here's an idea: You can take a ferry from southern France (Marseille, Toulon, or Nice) to Corsica. Corsica is outstanding for cycling, but it is not a flat island (the east coast is, but it's the only part of Corsica which is not beautiful). From there, you can take a ferry either to mainland Italy or to Sardinia, and then from Sardinia to mainland Italy very close to Rome. In any event, it's a way to avoid both the Italian Riviera and the Alps, though personally, I liked cycling in the Alps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
    Here's an idea: You can take a ferry from southern France (Marseille, Toulon, or Nice) to Corsica. Corsica is outstanding for cycling, but it is not a flat island (the east coast is, but it's the only part of Corsica which is not beautiful). From there, you can take a ferry either to mainland Italy or to Sardinia, and then from Sardinia to mainland Italy very close to Rome. In any event, it's a way to avoid both the Italian Riviera and the Alps, though personally, I liked cycling in the Alps.
    i sorta did this in reverse as part of my trip a few years ago. i took the ferry from citavecchia (near rome) to cagliari, sardegna, and rode up to santa teresa (or whatever the town is across from bonifacio.) took the ferry to bonifacio, rode up to bastia, took the ferry to nice, rode the route des grandes alpes (you don't have to skip the alps, and this route est vraiment beau!) to lac leman, then rode along the jura (more mountains) to alsace, and took the route des grands vins d'alsace to strasbourg.

    if you have the time, and are not attached to staying on the continent, i strongly suggest la corse and sardegna. these islands are stupidly beautifu, and i don't think there is as much bang-for-the-buck scenery anywhere else between paris and rome. i haven't been to the east side of la corse, but i would bet it is far from ugly.

    as far as trains go, my experience is rather limited. i think just about any fast train requires your bike to be in a bag, which i think are somewhat pricey and a pain in the ass to carry with you. most regional/slow trains don't have the bag restriction, or at least they didn't. you may be able to just show up at the ticket window and tell them where you want to go and that you have a bike, and they can probably cobble together a series of slow trains to get you to your destination.

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    Thank you, Merci, Grazia....to all

    Thanks to everyone who has contributed suggestions so far...I really do appreciate your input and I am taking it all to heart.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Deanster04's Avatar
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    Just spent 2 weeks in the Alps in Austria, Slovenia, Italy, and Switzerland. First trip and I have to say the cycling of a lifetime.
    Comments about trains already given above are pretty accurate and sound like based on experience. The Lonely Planet cycling guides are very good reading while preparing for the tour. Camping in France and Italy is incredible...clean, cheap, and warm showers. Usually have a WIFI connection for just a few Euros. Every town seems to have an associated campground with a store and restaurant with reasonable prices. Nice thing about most if not all alpine passes is the hotel/bar at the top where you can get a cold beer and lunch. Climbed the Stelvio and the Forst beer tasted incredibly good after the 48 switchbacks.
    The roads are smaller in Europe and drivers tend to drive very close to you so you can't be a nervous nellie and for heavens sake get any thought of "take the lane" out of your head...it is all a delicate balance. The drivers really like you it is just that there is less room (damn we are spoiled here in the US). And the motorcycles are about as bad as a swarm of black flies...Just ignore them.
    And Last but not least get some heavy duty touring tires with real rubber treads. The crushed rock on the side of the road can and will cut into the best road tires. I used Continental Contact 700x32c (but they make 28c as well) and had zero problems...one of the riders had a something Brown tire and it worked. The one rider with Conti 4 Seasons got a major cut from the rocky shoulders.
    Oops not so last...Get an i-phone and an account with AT&T. You can call from anywhere in Europe but, you can get on WIFI and Skype (even if the person doesn't have a camera phone) for just a few cents a minute to anyone back here in the US. In addition you can have music, download books (lonely planet?), and the phone has an incredible camera...I don't have one yet but my 2 friends did and was able to use the phone to call my wife for pennies. I am just waiting for my contract to get closer to ending and will be switching over (I have been with my current carrier for 6 years) but without the iPhone what the heck. With what I know now I wouldn't hesitate switching even if it cost me to buy out the contract.
    This was my first European tour and I wouldn't hesitate going over with an open itinerary and just a general idea of where I wanted to ride. Try and schedule the ride for late May early June or Sept/Oct. The summer in the lowlands is incredibly hot. Good luck and I hope this has been a help.
    Last edited by Deanster04; 08-14-10 at 02:01 AM. Reason: poor spelling!

  11. #11
    imi
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    Yes the mediterranean coast is very built up, but is still incredibly beautiful... I love cycling by the sea, so from Paris I would ride or take the train to Perpignan, then follow the med all the way... Perpignan to Marseille is my favourite stretch, then there's lovely climbing in the maritime alps

  12. #12
    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deanster04 View Post
    ... and for heavens sake get any thought of "take the lane" out of your head...
    ^^^ This is very very very good advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by Deanster04 View Post
    Try and schedule the ride for late May early June or Sept/Oct.
    yes, june and september are imo the best months for touring in france
    Last edited by imi; 08-14-10 at 04:24 AM.

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