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Boarding bikes on french trains

Old 09-15-22, 11:43 AM
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cyclezealot
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Boarding bikes on french trains

Hello. I leave next week for a bike tour tour in France. I will be traveling to various parts of France on both TGV and regional trains. Perhaps sometimes even on regional and local buses. Has anyone any advice as to boarding train cars and ordering tickets before boarding french trains. Is traveling about France on public transport with a bike both easy and convenient ? Thanks.
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Old 09-15-22, 12:14 PM
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I've travelled with my bike on French trains quite a few times. To the best of my knowledge:

1. There are TGVs with specific places for bikes. When you book on their app (ouigo), you check a box indicating that you'll travel with a bike and are charged an additional, reasonable, fee (perhaps 15 euros) for your bike. That would be the official way of riding on the TGV with a bike.
2. TER (regional trains) often have a carriage where you can put your bike, free of charge. Ask controllers.
3. You can "always" travel with luggage. I use a renko bag, remove my bike's wheels and carry the bag as if it were a suitcase. Even if it doesn't fit on the luggage rack, there's enough room to simply lean your bag next to the doors. Stay close because you'll have to move things around at most stops. Works on planes, buses and probably RER as well.

Have fun
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Old 09-15-22, 12:20 PM
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It depends entirely on the train. The SNCF (French national railroad) website is pretty good and each train indicates with a bicycle symbol if it takes regular bikes, and if it's free or requires payment.

https://www.sncf-connect.com/app/en-en/home/search

Click on "Add" then select "Add a Bicycle" and you will see a popup window describing the fees for each type of French train for "Non-Dismanted Bicycle" and "Bicycle in a cover".

If you search for a specific train, the website will tell you whether you can take a bike on that train and whether there's a charge or if it's free.

I've got a folding Bike Friday and my last tour in France was 5 years ago with 2 friends who also each have a Bike Friday. We took 2 TGV trains and 2 regional trains. No paid bike space was available on our 2 TGV trains. We brought giant plastic trash bags with us and folded our bikes after removing the pedals, put the folded bikes in trash bags, and put our bikes in the free baggage area at the end of our rail car for free. (I got that idea from a French cyclist years earlier.) The 2 regional trains were easier. Both had hooks to hang the bikes and were free.

There is limited space for bikes, esp. on TGVs, and you need to reserve it and get your bike checked in somewhat in advance. (30 minutes? 1 hour? I don't really know.)

Until a few years ago, virtually all non-TGV trains had spaces where you could hang a bike yourself for free.

Last edited by axolotl; 09-15-22 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 09-16-22, 04:38 PM
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Sometimes loading a bike on any train is a challenging job, and French trains are no exception. My wife and I were in Dijon, France, and I needed to be in Paris for a Doctor's appointment, and we wanted to catch the last stage of the Tour de France. We knew we could not make it to Paris in time for the appointment on our bikes , so we decided to take the train into Paris. It was our first ride in Europe, and their rail systems was foreign to us. It turned out that it was not much different than ours in the U.S. , and everything went well. I can still "see" out of my left eye, and it was great to be near the finish line of the last stage.

If you are loaded, getting the bike on the train requires removing most of the gear from the bike. Usually the bike is loaded first, then the panniers are are retrieved from the boarding platform and stored in the same car. Most of the trains have a "bike symbol" to identify the cars with bike storage.


Don't unload the bike until the location the the bike car(s) are located. Then the scramble starts. Unloading is a little more relaxed.


Remember to close the valve on your water bottles (don't ask me how I know this)


After spending a great week in Paris, we took the train back to Dijon, and continued our ride.

On another trip, starting a tour from Paris, we took a regional train to the nearest town outside the suburbs. My wife and two daughters all got their bikes and gear on the train without too much trouble. We were in different cars. Our daughters are experienced bike tourists, and skilled at loading their gear and bike on trains.

If you have used trains before the mechanics are pretty much the same. The ticketing was covered by the other folks.

In some stations you might want to learn how to take a bike up or down an escalator. Friends of ours in Paris showed us how to do it when we went on a day ride with them outside of Paris. They are the ones who also showed us how to avoid the suburbs.

Good luck on your venture.

Last edited by Doug64; 09-16-22 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 09-16-22, 07:24 PM
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When we traveled by TGV we put our bike in a "housse" (a bag) after taking off pedals and turning handlebars sideways. I don't know how much they enforce that requirement. That was 7 years ago
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Old 09-16-22, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by randallr View Post
When we traveled by TGV we put our bike in a "housse" (a bag) after taking off pedals and turning handlebars sideways. I don't know how much they enforce that requirement. That was 7 years ago
Your experience is more current than ours, 2011. We were also in Europe in 2015, but we did not get into France.

Last edited by Doug64; 09-16-22 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 09-18-22, 08:40 AM
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Thanks all. Especially Axoloti.

With SNCF connect, I bought my first ticket 2 questions
sncf said. 1 no bikes on escalators. . 2. Bikes must have identification tags So all stations must have elevators. As with Amtrak on long distance trips! , must tags be secured at check in and bikes handled by staff in secured storage? Thanks all
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Old 09-18-22, 09:25 AM
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How's your French? Here's a 1 year old video which explains the different rules for each type of French train:


1:39, he talks about TER trains. Bikes go free and you don't have to dismantle your bike.
5:03 Intercites trains - reservation required
5:56 TGV INOUI trains - reservation required - variable means of placement, he says
7:53 TGV OUIGO - he says that these only accept dismantled bikes

It sounds like one year ago, at least, the passenger did everything, even for taking a bike on a TGV.
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Old 09-18-22, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
1 no bikes on escalators.
Interesting. I don't recall ever having to carry my bike through escalators. The typical train station is at street level (entrance, access to platforms, trains). Otherwise I'd think that all stations must abide by regulations providing access to wheelchairs. (i.e. level to the ground, inclined plane or elevator).

Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
2. Bikes must have identification tags So all stations must have elevators. As with Amtrak on long distance trips! , must tags be secured at check in and bikes handled by staff in secured storage?
I don't recall ever having my bike taken care of by someone at the train station. I'd believe that you are expected to carry your bike on the platform, walk up to the appropriate carriage and transfer the bike from the platform to the carriage by yourself. There'll probably be a controller nearby such that if you struggle you'll be helped. Then again, perhaps not
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Old 09-18-22, 09:26 PM
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Should bikes require identification tag to enter a train, I assume some train employee could be interested in security issues. Let's say my bike is two cars away, and unsecured, I'd be nervous the whole journey. My bike isn't cheap.
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Old 09-19-22, 08:56 AM
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My trip is beginning to resemble a nightmare. One can't take their bike on the Paris Meteo. Charles DeGaulle is on the south. My train station is on the south of paris.there is no RER service to the south. Side. ....are Paris taxis bike friendly. Can I ride my bike out of CDG airport
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Old 09-19-22, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
My trip is beginning to resemble a nightmare. One can't take their bike on the Paris Meteo. Charles DeGaulle is on the south. My train station is on the south of paris.there is no RER service to the south. Side. ....are Paris taxis bike friendly. Can I ride my bike out of CDG airport
CDG airport is north of Paris. The RER B line (a commuter train) goes from CDG thru the center of Paris and continues to the southern suburbs. Bikes are permitted outside of rush hour. RER lines go north, south, east, & west from the city. You're getting some seriously incorrect information.

https://www.ratp.fr/en/it-possible-c...e-ratp-network

"On the RER, you may transport your bicycle and make transfers only between RER lines A, B, C, D and E, and only during the following hours:
  • All day long on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays,
  • Before 6:30 a.m., between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and after 7 p.m. on all other days."
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Old 09-19-22, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
My trip is beginning to resemble a nightmare. One can't take their bike on the Paris Meteo. Charles DeGaulle is on the south. My train station is on the south of paris.there is no RER service to the south. Side. ....are Paris taxis bike friendly. Can I ride my bike out of CDG airport
I have travelled extensively with my bicycles, both as a cyclotourist or bringing my bike to ride at certain destinations. Every challenge can be overcome; however, expect some difficulties and be mentally prepared to face them as they occur. My biggest advice is to give yourself plenty of time along the way should things go awry. The other is prepare a slush fund as money will solve most problems. Should your bike not make a connection or get damaged en route, you will need an extra day at your starting point. No train will take you, will need a large taxi, etc. View the whole trip as an adventure, and things will be much more enjoyable. For example, I was forced to abandon a trip in central Spain a few years ago, and the solution was to rent a car, drive to Toulouse, and continue from there. Not cheap, but in the big picture a drop in the bucket.

Regarding your question, Yes, you can ride from CDG I have done it's very safe.

If you want easy, go with an organized tour operator otherwise, the adventure is the challenges you face and solve along the way. The trip you are planning is about much more than the bike.

Last edited by Atlas Shrugged; 09-19-22 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 09-19-22, 04:00 PM
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My wife and daughters rode into Paris from CDG, a local guy led us to a canal that went straight into Paris. Where did you want to be today? Is there any flex in your train ticket. can you assemble your bile? Part of the ride was a little exciting until we met the "Angel of the Road".

There are plenty of spots where you can put your bike together. I put 4 of them together here with no one objecting.


My wife giving our Angel of the Road an Angel of the Road thank you card.
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Old 09-19-22, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged View Post
I have travelled extensively with my bicycles, both as a cyclotourist or bringing my bike to ride at certain destinations. Every challenge can be overcome; however, expect some difficulties and be mentally prepared to face them as they occur. My biggest advice is to give yourself plenty of time along the way should things go awry. The other is prepare a slush fund as money will solve most problems. Should your bike not make a connection or get damaged en route, you will need an extra day at your starting point. No train will take you, will need a large taxi, etc. View the whole trip as an adventure, and things will be much more enjoyable. For example, I was forced to abandon a trip in central Spain a few years ago, and the solution was to rent a car, drive to Toulouse, and continue from there. Not cheap, but in the big picture a drop in the bucket.

Regarding your question, Yes, you can ride from CDG I have done it's very safe.

If you want easy, go with an organized tour operator otherwise, the adventure is the challenges you face and solve along the way. The trip you are planning is about much more than the bike.
Thanks both. Axolotl especially made my anxieties less. The last option. Ride my bike out of CDG. The first night I'm staying at a hotel in nearby Roissy.
My worst freak out was thinking the RTP would not connect to Gare Montparnasse.
Since. I've figured out my connections. The RTP connections.
Anxieties. The local bus to Roissy # 22/ does it accommodate bikes thanks
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Old 09-20-22, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
Can I ride my bike out of CDG airport?
Like Doug's family I used the canal to ride between Paris and the airport. Years ago I arrived at Gare d'Austerlitz and easily connected to the northbound Canal de l'Ourcq using paper maps. I exited the canal path at Tremblay-en-France and wound around on country roads to Charles de Gaulle airport. That was pre 9/11 when you could slip into the terminal through the air freight section without crossing the big highway.

I had checked my assembled bike in Saintes (near Bordeaux) and found it waiting in Paris at the train station in the baggage area. Not sure how that works today. A subsequent train trip was from Carcassonne > Paris Gare de Lyon, then CDG via bike and canal.



Canal de l'Ourcq

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Old 09-20-22, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot View Post
Thanks both. Axolotl especially made my anxieties less. The last option. Ride my bike out of CDG. The first night I'm staying at a hotel in nearby Roissy.
My worst freak out was thinking the RTP would not connect to Gare Montparnasse.
Since. I've figured out my connections. The RTP connections.
Anxieties. The local bus to Roissy # 22/ does it accommodate bikes thanks
Glad things are looking better. To reiterate my point, plan for the unexpected and enjoy the challenges, or the whole point of an independent bike tour will be lost. Simple things like lost luggage, mechanical, upset stomach, and weather can cause a cascade of problems if the trip is overly structured. You are one of tens of thousands of people who have done a bike tour in France, so systems exist for you to accomplish whatever you are planning.

I wouldn't attempt a local bus but rather get an oversize Taxi to your hotel or most likely assemble bikes at Airport and ride to the hotel. Next day ride to Gare Montparnasse. The route is all on separated bike lanes or quiet roads. A good section of it is on EuroVelo Route 3; Paris is a great city for cycling, so that you will have no issues there. I use RideWithGps for my route planning, which would help with your concerns.

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Old 10-22-22, 10:22 AM
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I had a great time. My emphasis was the Canal entre deux mers. Getting through Paris, in transit, I found it daunting. The only form of transit that accepts bikes is the RER line b. That stipulates that no bikes are allowed during rush hour. Since Line b uses the subway system; try to find out whenever line b isn't packed. I STAYED at a hotel near CDG. I recommend not putting together your bike until the next day. Assembling your bike in CDG's hallway's stressful, particularly after 11 hours of jet lag.
As to boarding bikes on the regional trains. No problem. Except for a few times I felt on the regional trains, there were insufficient bike racks for the volume of bikes boarding on and off. Local trains do not reserve bike spaces. On the TGV reserve well in advance. Since I did not, once I paid a premium price for waiting until the last moment.
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Old 10-22-22, 11:31 AM
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I'm glad to hear you had a great time. Your post, however, isn't entirely accurate. As I wrote above in post #12, RER lines A, B, C, D, & E all permit bikes except during rush hour, so it's not just line B which permits bikes:

https://www.ratp.fr/en/it-possible-c...e-ratp-network

"On the RER, you may transport your bicycle and make transfers only between RER lines A, B, C, D and E, and only during the following hours:
  • All day long on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays,
  • Before 6:30 a.m., between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and after 7 p.m. on all other days."
Also, while the RER lines are mostly (but not entirely) underground within the city of Paris, the RER B line, as well as the other RER lines, do not use the Metro tracks. They have their own dedicated tracks.

I was just touring in France myself, and I also biked in Paris. Since my previous visit in 2017, biking has exploded in Paris. The city eliminated a lot of car traffic lanes and replaced them with bike lanes. Many or even most one-way streets (and most small streets in Paris are one-way) permit cyclists to ride against traffic. Sometimes there's a bike lane, sometimes not, depending on how wide the street is. Covid is also responsible for much of the increase in the number of cyclists in the city, since many folks prefer to avoid public transport. At rush hour, Paris is starting to resemble Amsterdam. I had to bike from my lodging to the Gare d'Austerlitz during morning rush hour with loaded panniers on my bike, and it was a little bit crazy at times due to the number of cyclists around me, though I wouldn't describe it as scary. A significant percentage of Parisians are riding e-bikes, e-scooters, and those crazy "onewheel" things. When I didn't have my panniers on my bike, riding around the city was lots of fun. Paris is not a large city in terms of area, so it's usually a relatively short ride to get from anywhere in the city to any of the train stations in the city.

I took my bike on several TER (regional) trains as well as Intercité trains. Despite what the guy said in the video I linked to in post #8 above, it turns out that not all Intercité trains require a bike reservation or payment. Many do, however. I will add that if you are taking an Intercité train which requires a bike reservation, you must make your bike reservation when you buy your passenger ticket. Otherwise, if you decide later that you want to make a bicycle reservation for the same train, you will have to make a new passenger reservation as well. You cannot make a bicycle reservation without making a passenger reservation at the same time. I think that part of the reason is that only some rail cars have designated spaces for bikes and your passenger seat reservation will be placed in one of those rail cars with bike space if you reserve for your bike, too. The 2 Intercité trains I took which didn't require a reservation or payment for bikes, both had open seating for passengers. I was on a TER train in a rail car with space for just 2 bikes. When a 3rd cyclist boarded, he just leaned his bike somewhere else and the ticket inspector didn't care.
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