Originally Posted by GLA
Does anyone have experience in taking a tandem on French trains?
We've done it quite a few times.
SNCF schedule lists which train has room for bikes. Though the schedule lies at times, usually if it says the train can take bikes, you can stick it on there somewhere.
In general, the TER (local) trains can handle a tandem though you won't be able to hang the tandem like the single bikes. We just roll the tandem in and take all the single bike spaces.
Some of the older rolling stock has a fourgon (guard van) for luggage and would be perfect for a tandem. The biggest problem with those is their height, about 1m above ground level.
Intercity (express) trains varies in facilities. If there is a fourgon, you are all set. If there is just a compartment (normal 6 passenger compartment with seats removed) at the end of a car, it gets trickier as you have to make 2 90 degree turns to get your tandem into the compartment and back out again later. Still can be done but not fun.
After using the intercity train a few times, we've changed the way we plan our tandem tours to only use local trains. Intercity trains are just a hassle.
BTW, always check at the train station a few days before you want to take the train. SNCF sometimes shuts down a line for repair or maintenance and replaces the train with buses. Tandems and buses definitely don't get along well together.