help! how to get back from France

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johnnyh
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help! how to get back from France

Postby johnnyh » 23 Jan 2011, 9:50pm

Hi, I really could use some help here.

A group of 5 of us are cycling from London to Montpellier, France, this April. We plan to do about 100 miles a day, staying in F1 motels and similar. (as cheap as we can basically)

We arrive into Montpellier on April 23rd, and intend to take a relax day before heading home via motorised transport.

The first idea was to hire a van to get us home, but the one way fees are leading to prices in excess of £400 for a one day rental (pre petrol and toll etc), so that is not happening.

So we thought about the TGV to Paris and then Eurostar to London, but we are struggling with not being able to book bikes onto the TGV. We are told we can put the bikes into bike bags and take them on as hand luggage, but we have no way of carrying padded bike bags on the cycle down and I certainly dont want to spend £200 odd on a bag!

So, we are stuck and getting nowhere fast.

If anyone has any experience or words of wisdom on this, please please please share, we really will be very happy of any advice you can offer.

Many thanks

Johnny

vernon
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby vernon » 23 Jan 2011, 10:04pm

Had the European Bike Express been running you'd have paid £131 each to get back from Montpellier.

That gives you a bench mark against which you can measure the alternatives.

To be honest the price when split between five of you does not sound too bad even when factoring in the cost of tolls and petrol/diesel

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hubgearfreak
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby hubgearfreak » 23 Jan 2011, 10:08pm

i got caught like this years ago.

having done C2C in some pretty poor weather, i was in sunderland expecting to be able to get the train home, or newark and then ride the last bit. however, the weather had been bad, real bad and the east coast maim line was closed. even the coach replacement couldn't use the A1, as that was closed too. so, i have to get on a coach that's going down the A19, but he obviously couldn't allow bikes on, i wouldn't dream of getting my GF or either parent to drive up in those conditions, so i went to wilkos, bought some gaffa tape and asked for some boxes out of their skip. not long after that, my bike was wrapped up, flatpacked and taped up in a box about the size of a suitcase, whcih the coach driver had no problem with putting in his luggage hold.

in short, simply look for le wilko when you're finished and get on the train with a package, not a bike

johnnyh
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby johnnyh » 23 Jan 2011, 10:37pm

I like the cardboard package idea, although arriving Saturday evening of the Easter weekend might prove to be a tricky one for sourcing materials... I expect much to be shut.

But thinking outside, or inside the box as it were :lol: might prove the way

keep the idea coming

Vorpal
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby Vorpal » 23 Jan 2011, 10:47pm

Most of the car-hire companies only apply a one-way fee if the car leaves the country. So, you could hire a car to another destination in France and take the train or ferry from there.

If you go for the package idea, skips in industrial estate often have appropriate material, though I don't know how French law might view skip-raiding. Good luck!
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hubgearfreak
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby hubgearfreak » 23 Jan 2011, 11:29pm

even when the shops are shut catering places aren't. you'll find boxes outside any restaurant and takeaway and they'll be glad for you to take them if you asked

bikerpauline
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby bikerpauline » 24 Jan 2011, 8:58am

Some solutions I have researched in the past.

Cardboard boxes can be got at both Carrefour or Decathlon, near to each other on outskirts of Montpellier and open until 7pm on Saturday. My husband flew back from Nimes using this method, he got his box from Decathlon.

NON-TGV train from Monpellier to Avignon. Avignon to Lyon, Lyon to Paris, Paris to channel ports. Sounds complicated but works well and can be done in a day with an early start. On these trains you can take a loaded bike. We did Avignon to Paris with no problem.

One way van rental to Paris (much cheaper). Rent another to channel port and then on ferry as foot passenger with bike. We have used this method to return from Bordeaux.

eileithyia
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby eileithyia » 24 Jan 2011, 9:52am

Ride back :lol: :?:
i would have thought the shared cost of a van hire to one of the ferry ports would be cheapest option.
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ANTONISH
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby ANTONISH » 24 Jan 2011, 10:02am

Home made bike bag made from that a cheap blue plastic tarpaulin. Doesn't have to be too special. Not too heavy to carry on your sort of ride. Buy bubble wrap at a "Bricolage".
Bike will need partial dismantling to make the size limits. Leave plenty of time for this before the train's departure time.
Get on TGV and put bike in rack.
I've done this twice - once from Lyons and once from Nice.
If you want to get to Calais or Dunkerque it's best to go via Lille which avoids crossing Paris. It's easy to change trains there as your connection may be at Lille Europe or if not Lille Flanders is only a short walk away.
Book TGV direct with SNCF it's cheaper and they will post you the tickets very promptly.
You may find the chain budget hotels are not always conveniently placed for your route.
Logis hotels are more expensive but generally good value and usually bike friendly -not all the budget hotel staff are willing to let you put your bikes in the room (premiere classe have very small rooms) -the logis website is easy to use but there is a delay while your request for accomodation is submitted to the relevant hotel.

MartinBrice
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby MartinBrice » 24 Jan 2011, 10:23am

Fly easyJet back to Gatwick. I've done it, it's no problem, bike was completely unscratched. you will need to put it in a plastic covering - buy some plastic and tape at Mr Brico, which is a sort of B&Q. Flight was fine. I watched the handlers put it on the plane as they took it up the ramp into the hold - all done very carefully.
if you are determined not to fly, then wrapping the bike in this sort of stuff is fine on TGV, I did it from Nantes to Lille, and again from Lille to St Pancras (train should have stopped at Ebbsfleet but eurostart doesn't yet know how to run a railway).

ericonabike
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby ericonabike » 24 Jan 2011, 3:05pm

The first idea was to hire a van to get us home, but the one way fees are leading to prices in excess of £400 for a one day rental (pre petrol and toll etc), so that is not happening.


Why not? Shared between the five of you would be about £100 each, and I doubt you're going to be able to match that on price unless you ride back. You share the emissions as well, so it's still a green alternative. As Vernon says, the Bike Express would have been about £130 for a single trip. So an alternative might be to defer the ride for a month or so until that starts running? I did the same trip as you [Leicester to Montpellier over 7 days] last year and the joy of just giving my bike to the Bike Express Team at Montpellier, then not having to think about anything untoil I got back to Leicester was worth every penny!
Motorists' mantra: Cyclists must obey the law and the Highway Code AT ALL TIMES. Unless their doing so would HOLD ME UP.

tatanab
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby tatanab » 24 Jan 2011, 3:42pm

I'd be very careful about the van option. The way I read it is that you want to put 5 people plus bikes in the van. I doubt the van will have seating for 5 and I really do not think I'd want to be stopped by the gendarmes only for them to find people lying around the floor.

I don't know about prices in France, but I have found that in the UK a one way hire of a van is much more expensive than a car. It might work out cheaper to hire a large people carrier thing which would also get over insurance/police difficulties with loose passengers.

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horizon
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby horizon » 24 Jan 2011, 4:32pm

ericonabike wrote: I did the same trip as you [Leicester to Montpellier over 7 days] last year and the joy of just giving my bike to the Bike Express Team at Montpellier, then not having to think about anything until I got back to Leicester was worth every penny!


I've taken a bike back on a train from Nimes and the Bike Express from Montpellier - and yes it's great - all sorted! I find Bike Express expensive (and slow) but flying also has its awful points (like flying for instance :( ) and price wise it may not be so great. I've also hitchhiked it back from Montpelier and would still today think of hitchhiking with a bike if I was really stuck! Bike Express could be a very convivial way home.
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vernon
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby vernon » 24 Jan 2011, 7:29pm

horizon wrote:
ericonabike wrote: I did the same trip as you [Leicester to Montpellier over 7 days] last year and the joy of just giving my bike to the Bike Express Team at Montpellier, then not having to think about anything until I got back to Leicester was worth every penny!


I've taken a bike back on a train from Nimes and the Bike Express from Montpellier - and yes it's great - all sorted! I find Bike Express expensive (and slow) but flying also has its awful points (like flying for instance :( ) and price wise it may not be so great. I've also hitchhiked it back from Montpelier and would still today think of hitchhiking with a bike if I was really stuck! Bike Express could be a very convivial way home.


I don't think Bike Express is an option as it's not running when the original poster intends to return.

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b1ke
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Re: help! how to get back from France

Postby b1ke » 24 Jan 2011, 7:49pm

I've used bike bags on high speed trains in Europe, including on TGV. The one I use rolls down to fit in a smallish canoe bag and is similar (I think) to this one :arrow: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/HEAVY-DUTY-NYLON- ... _768wt_932. Mine came from SJS though and cost around £20.

I haven't had problems with this option, but if you're using disc brakes, it may be worth adding a bit of extra padding. Also, it's a hassle carrying the bike + panniers along platforms. I prefer to just pedal wherever possible.
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