Using TGV from South of France

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
spaman
Posts: 8
Joined: 21 Mar 2016, 6:20pm

Using TGV from South of France

Postby spaman » 21 Mar 2016, 6:31pm

Anyone experienced using the TGV from the South of France?
We are cycling from St Malo to Arles and intended to get back to St Malo by train. It would appear that you can take the bikes on the train but only if they are dismantled and placed in a bike bag.
Does anyone know the definition of a "bike-bag"? Obviously we don't want to carry bike bags around France with us and aprt from anything else what is the SNCF spec for a bike bag? I wondered if we could use plastic and tape to wrap a dismantled bike to make it a parcel (though large) to be taken onboard as luggage.
I've tried lots of websites and also rang the SNCF help line but they couldn't help me.

andymiller
Posts: 1716
Joined: 8 Dec 2007, 10:26am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby andymiller » 21 Mar 2016, 7:45pm

NOS SOLUTIONS POUR EMBARQUER VOTRE VÉLO

Deux solutions s’offrent à vous pour voyager en train avec votre vélo :

-plié ou démonté et rangé dans une housse, votre vélo* est accepté gratuitement, dans la limite des places disponibles, à bord de tous les trains. Considéré comme un bagage à main, le vélo sous housse doit être étiqueté et ne doit pas excéder les dimensions maximales autorisées : 120 cm de hauteur pour 90 cm de largeur

- à bord de la plupart de nos trains, des espaces dédiés repérables par un pictogramme vélo vous permettent, dans la limite des places disponibles, de voyager avec votre vélo (Seuls les vélos standards sont acceptés à bord des trains. Le transport des vélos couchés, des tricycles, des tandems et des remorques de toute nature n’est pas autorisé).

From http://www.sncf.com/fr/services/voyager-avec-votre-velo

I think they must mean 120 cms long (or wide) and 90cms high but anyway, you need to be able to fit them into the luggage racks which are about 120cms (-ish) wide and 90 cms (-ish) deep. The Ground Effect Tardis works even though it's 135 cms by 80. Any road up you'll need to take the wheels off.

You might want to consider the alternative of the night train from Nice via Marseille

http://www.voyages-sncf.com/train/intercites-nuit

slogfester
Posts: 92
Joined: 6 May 2009, 11:47pm

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby slogfester » 25 Mar 2016, 6:19am

We got caught by this a few years a go when trying to return from the south of France to Paris-London. TGV advertise that they allow assembled bikes on all services, but you soon discover they do NOT allow on the Paris-Marseille line. Something to do with it being the first and oldest rolling stock or something. At least this was the case a few years a go.

ANTONISH
Posts: 1596
Joined: 26 Mar 2009, 9:49am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby ANTONISH » 25 Mar 2016, 8:46am

I've used a lightweight home made bike bag for this. Adds a bit to the weight you have to carry but not much.
You need to purchase padding etc from a "bricolage" for the return journey.
There is some bike dismantling required to get down to the necessary 120 x 90 - and reassembly :(
I'm not too bothered by such things but others may not fancy it.
We returned from Nice to Lille doing this via Marseilles in 2011.
Other than that it's fly or wend your way via the regional train network. I suppose it may be possible to use a regional "ter" train to a major station where you could book bike spaces on a tgv.
I believe the useful "capitainetrain" website which allowed you to book bike spaces online has been taken over by another company - I'm not sure what the implications are for future bike booking.
In 2014 I travelled on a night train from Perpignan to Paris which had a dedicated bike carriage- but I'm pretty sure these services have been discontinued.
Good luck.

andymiller
Posts: 1716
Joined: 8 Dec 2007, 10:26am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby andymiller » 25 Mar 2016, 11:05am

ANTONISH wrote:In 2014 I travelled on a night train from Perpignan to Paris which had a dedicated bike carriage- but I'm pretty sure these services have been discontinued.
Good luck.


No they haven't (I have a ticket to travel on the night train to Nice in a couple of weeks). Here's the route map from the page I linked to in my previous post:

http://www.voyages-sncf.com/ext/editori ... c-nuit.pdf

Certainly these services have the axe hanging over them (DeutscheBahn is ending its night services later this year so the SNCF could be next), but for the moment they are still running, so make use of them while they are still here.

The service I travelled on back from Nice last year had a bike compartment with space for maybe ten bikes (maybe more at a pinch).

P1260055-853x479.jpg


EDIT: According to seat61.com

Update: Sadly, SNCF plan to discontinue all intercités de nuit as from 1 July 2016 except for Paris-Briancon, Paris-Rodez & Paris-Latour de Carol.


So my apologies astonish looks like you were right. :oops:

slogfester wrote:We got caught by this a few years a go when trying to return from the south of France to Paris-London. TGV advertise that they allow assembled bikes on all services, but you soon discover they do NOT allow on the Paris-Marseille line. Something to do with it being the first and oldest rolling stock or something. At least this was the case a few years a go.


In fairness they don't claim that, but IIRC the UK version of the SNCF has some misleadingly vague words about 'most' services taking bikes — with the exception of the route that most cyclists want to use.

The reason is that they have double-decker trains on the route to Marseille which were built to cram in the maximum number of passengers. Things might change when those trains come to be refurbished.
Last edited by andymiller on 28 Mar 2016, 5:17pm, edited 1 time in total.

ossie
Posts: 662
Joined: 15 Apr 2011, 7:52pm

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby ossie » 25 Mar 2016, 8:59pm

Image

TGV from Rennes to St Malo in the designated 'bike space' .Winged it without booking and the conductor was straight down the back and let me off as it was a late train with few on it.

In short you can do it but you have to book the space on TGV....however there was only one space for a bike.The local non TGV services all had plenty of room for bikes (a designated carriage)...I only did the TGV on this part of the route as the local service was an hour after this train and even the platform attendants were egging me on :D

At Angers (the start of my journey) I went to the information desk and explained my situation. The chap worked out my route from Angers / Nantes / Rennes / St Malo for bike friendly trains, printed it out. I took that to the ticket office which they accepted and I paid about 40 Euro.......thats one option you could do and perhaps break your journey up a bit as will be slower.

However..it all seemed very relaxed and people were boarding the TGV with big suitcases and all sorts, would a dismantled bike wrapped up in a bike bag be much bigger ...probably not if its frame size with both wheels zip tied on the side of the frame...

ANTONISH
Posts: 1596
Joined: 26 Mar 2009, 9:49am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby ANTONISH » 27 Mar 2016, 8:44am

andymiller wrote:
ANTONISH wrote:In 2014 I travelled on a night train from Perpignan to Paris which had a dedicated bike carriage- but I'm pretty sure these services have been discontinued.
Good luck.

No they haven't (I have a ticket to travel on the night train to Nice in a couple of weeks). Here's the route map from the page I linked to in my previous post:

That's good to know. Your picture shows an identical arrangement to the one I was using - the carriages had seen better days but it was good just to get on the train with an assembled bike.
BTW did you manage to book this online ? my experience with Rail-Europe led me to give up trying to book the bike spaces online and going to their office in Picadilly - even then it took the booking clerk some time to make the necessary arrangements. As part of the same trip I also booked an overnight to Hendaye - I turned up at Calais Frethun to find that there was a national rail strike :(
(My elder son kindly came on the ferry and drove me )

andymiller
Posts: 1716
Joined: 8 Dec 2007, 10:26am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby andymiller » 27 Mar 2016, 9:37am

ANTONISH wrote:BTW did you manage to book this online ? my experience with Rail-Europe led me to give up trying to book the bike spaces online and going to their office in Picadilly - even then it took the booking clerk some time to make the necessary arrangements. As part of the same trip I also booked an overnight to Hendaye - I turned up at Calais Frethun to find that there was a national rail strike :(
(My elder son kindly came on the ferry and drove me )


I did it all with CapitainTrain.com which allows you to book bike places online. You can also use the english-language version of the main voyages-sncf.com website, but you have to avoid getting shunted to the UK version of the site which for some reason uses a more limited version of their booking system. It's a scandal the way that the SNCF give UK customers a second-rate and more expensive service.

Unfortunately rail strikes like strikes by air traffic controllers etc, are something that it's difficult to plan for.

ludo
Posts: 21
Joined: 30 Jul 2012, 8:29pm

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby ludo » 27 Mar 2016, 10:43pm

Last year I cycled from Caen to Montpellier and then got the TGV to Paris. I booked in advance and put the bike in a CTC plastic bike bag. I had no problems. I then got a regional train from Paris to Caen. One cannot book a bike in advance on the regional trains. You just turn up with your bike and there is no need to dismantle it. On my train there had been space for 20 bikes. During my ride the bike bag I carried in my pannier together with the rest of my luggage without any problem. The weight was insignificant and I was carrying minimal luggage anyway. Hope this helps.

andymiller
Posts: 1716
Joined: 8 Dec 2007, 10:26am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby andymiller » 27 Mar 2016, 11:14pm

The SNCF rules are that bike bags have to be a maximum of 90x120 - you might get away with it, but there's a risk you won't.

You could take the wheels off and put into a big plastic bag and the tape up with parcel tape.

ANTONISH
Posts: 1596
Joined: 26 Mar 2009, 9:49am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby ANTONISH » 28 Mar 2016, 11:44am

andymiller wrote:
ANTONISH wrote:BTW did you manage to book this online ? my experience with Rail-Europe led me to give up trying to book the bike spaces online and going to their office in Picadilly - even then it took the booking clerk some time to make the necessary arrangements. As part of the same trip I also booked an overnight to Hendaye - I turned up at Calais Frethun to find that there was a national rail strike :(
(My elder son kindly came on the ferry and drove me )


I did it all with CapitainTrain.com which allows you to book bike places online. You can also use the english-language version of the main voyages-sncf.com website, but you have to avoid getting shunted to the UK version of the site which for some reason uses a more limited version of their booking system. It's a scandal the way that the SNCF give UK customers a second-rate and more expensive service.

Unfortunately rail strikes like strikes by air traffic controllers etc, are something that it's difficult to plan for.

I didn't know about captain train when I last booked and as you say SNCF dump you onto Rail-Europe - (I was using the French language part of their website but couldn't work around being moved to Rail-Europe.) I don't use Eurostar, I get the ferry and go from Calais.
A few years ago I was able to book online with SNCF but that was closed off.

andymiller
Posts: 1716
Joined: 8 Dec 2007, 10:26am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby andymiller » 28 Mar 2016, 11:52am

ANTONISH wrote:
A few years ago I was able to book online with SNCF but that was closed off.


You can book with voyages-sncf.com - look at the list of languages and resist the temptation to click the Union Jack but instead go to the end of the list and click on the EU flag (the caption is something like 'other EU countries'). This is worth knowing as this version of the site will tell you which trains carry bikes while the dumbed down UK version won't.

To book tickets (and bike spaces) you may also need to opt to pay in euros rather than pounds.Personally I prefer capitaine-train, and I can't see any point arsing around with voyages-sncf.com if you don't need to..

I should have said that you get two options: one is a e-ticket that you simply show to the chef du train and the other is an option to collect the ticket from a ticket machine at your departure station. Don't (as I have done) get mixed up and forget to collect your ticket, because otherwise you'll end up having to buy a ticket on the train at full price.

andymiller
Posts: 1716
Joined: 8 Dec 2007, 10:26am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby andymiller » 28 Mar 2016, 5:18pm

EDIT: According to seat61.com

Update: Sadly, SNCF plan to discontinue all intercités de nuit as from 1 July 2016 except for Paris-Briancon, Paris-Rodez & Paris-Latour de Carol.


So my apologies to anyone who might have been considering this option. :oops:

ANTONISH
Posts: 1596
Joined: 26 Mar 2009, 9:49am

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby ANTONISH » 31 Mar 2016, 2:14pm

andymiller wrote:
ANTONISH wrote:
A few years ago I was able to book online with SNCF but that was closed off.


You can book with voyages-sncf.com - look at the list of languages and resist the temptation to click the Union Jack but instead go to the end of the list and click on the EU flag (the caption is something like 'other EU countries'). This is worth knowing as this version of the site will tell you which trains carry bikes while the dumbed down UK version won't.

To book tickets (and bike spaces) you may also need to opt to pay in euros rather than pounds.Personally I prefer capitaine-train, and I can't see any point arsing around with voyages-sncf.com if you don't need to..

I should have said that you get two options: one is a e-ticket that you simply show to the chef du train and the other is an option to collect the ticket from a ticket machine at your departure station. Don't (as I have done) get mixed up and forget to collect your ticket, because otherwise you'll end up having to buy a ticket on the train at full price.

All good advice - I used to be able to get SNCF to post the tickets to me - nothing gets better :(

pq
Posts: 968
Joined: 12 Nov 2007, 11:41pm
Location: St Antonin Noble Val, France
Contact:

Re: Using TGV from South of France

Postby pq » 29 Apr 2016, 4:06pm

Just to add that I've always found station staff very helpful when I've just arrived with my bike wanting to go to (usually) Paris. In France there's much less to be gained from booking a long way in advance, so provided you're not very short of time, that might be an option. All I do in advance is suss out a good station to start my journey from - ie does it have a decent service to my destination. It helps that I speak good French but stations usually have English speakers around.
One link to your website is enough. G