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Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 4 Mar 2014, 6:29pm
by Phil66
This follows on from my post yesterday regarding a boat back from Bilbao, which now looks like a no go as none of the boats run on days that work for me.

So next option is the train back from Biarritz, which is where I’m heading anyway. I can get it up to Paris by the look of things and then pedal the last bit home myself, this is stacking up to be a cracking trip.

Anyway, I’m after any info people might have on French trains as the one web site I’ve looked at is not too clear. It said if I was unable to book a space for the bike I could put the bike in a bag but this would count as one piece of luggage, do French trains have Luggage allowance’s? Will I be alright with 4 panniers? Has anybody used the train on this route, how was it, can’t be worse than flying with a bike.

I would hope to be able to book a space for my bike, and then take my four bags with me to the area I seated in, not asking too much am I.

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 4 Mar 2014, 6:57pm
by megilleland

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 5 Mar 2014, 7:34am
by BeeKeeper
An alternative approach would be to cycle to Hendaye, about 20 miles IIRC and then get the train to Santander and then ferry back to UK. The train is slow and you will need to factor in an overnight stop at San Sebastian but it is easy to use. No booking required.

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 5 Mar 2014, 1:33pm
by Jonny Deezil
I have travelled this area quite a fair bit. From Bilbao to Biarritz by train is easy. From the Atxuri station you take the Topo all the way to Hendaye endstop. You may have to take a train to Donostia first then transfer over to another Topo all the way to Hendaye. This will take about 2 hours to Donostia then another hour to Hendaye. Very time consuming though.

Taking in a breath of fresh air and a tour of Donostia will be well worth your time though, Parte Viejo have an abundance of Basque eateries offering pintxos and my favourite bocadillo lomo y queso (Juantxo Bar on Embeltran Kalea). The Mejilloneria on Puerto Kalea is offers mussels in all sorts of variaties.

Then perhaps back to the Topo station for the final slog to Hendaye. Once you alight at Hendaye Topo station it is a 100 yard walk to the Hendaye main train station. You may even find a train to Paris from here. If not certainly a train onwards to Biarritz.

For a uber spicy chorizo you may hop off at the Oiartzun station and head towards the Mamut supermarket located about 1 mile from the station. The chorizo is called Revilla Picante and is available at the rear end of the Mamut at €11 / Kilo. They also have an awesome selection of Turron all year round. You may also find this chorizo at the "El Corte Ingles" in Bilbao centre.

If you do decide to linger in the area, there is an excellent Bidegoria you can hop onto nearby all the way to the top, where you will find the tastiest water. Bring an empty container to scoop the water up as it trickles from the mountain.

I tend to get quite purposefully lost around Donostia + surrounds.

Hope you find your way and goodluck with your adventures.

:D :D :D

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 5 Mar 2014, 3:41pm
by aquilo
You can get a TGV back from Hendaye. Whole bikes can be taken onboard, but you have to book them on. You can book three months ahead.

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 7 Mar 2014, 9:18am
by Phil66
Thanks for your answers folks, looks like a train back up to Paris after the party!!

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 7 Mar 2014, 11:03am
by jamesgilbert
The bike must be booked on the TGV, it costs 10 euros. If you just turn up, you won't be allowed on, and they have a very limited number of spaces which on some journeys will get booked well in advance.

Unfortunately you can't book your bike online, you have to either go to the SNCF office in London (if you're based in the UK) or phone + 33 892 35 35 35

As mentioned above, ticket sales usually open 3 months prior to travel.

Edit: Oh, and you'll very likely be seated next to (or near) the bike. The bike spaces on a TGV are a bit strange, when not being used for bikes they have folding seats. So you sometimes have to eject people, pushchairs, huge mountains of luggage, etc. in order to attach your bike. This is obviously a fun experience for all involved :D

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 7 Mar 2014, 3:41pm
by ANTONISH
There is a site called http://www.bonjourlafrance.com this enables you to check the timetables on regional trains for the whole of France. I'm intending to head for Hendaye in June and there is a service advertised from Dunkerque to Hendaye (change trains at Paris Austerlitz - same station just a platform change) carries bikes on both trains.
I'll try booking it soon (the agent is Rail-Europe). I suppose there will be a similar service in the opposite direction.
All or part is TER not TGV. But it may be worth a look- I'm hoping that the overnight service is as advertised.
The other alternative is to dismantle the bike so that it can be packed in to the requisite size (120 x90 ?) . I've done this in the past and it's a bit of a hassle but it's a couple of hours out of a touring holiday (I wasn't in a hurry :) .
Also first class doesn't cost greatly more than the standard fare - there are plenty of early booking bargains and you generally find more rack space available. Two of us had first class (one way ) from Nice to Lille a couple of years ago for around 180 euros.
There are threads on the touring site on making light bike bags and advice on padding.
There is of course the Bike Bus - there are threads on that as well - it's a bit like Marmite :( .

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 7 Mar 2014, 4:03pm
by jamesgilbert
ANTONISH wrote:There is a site called http://www.bonjourlafrance.com this enables you to check the timetables on regional trains for the whole of France. I'm intending to head for Hendaye in June and there is a service advertised from Dunkerque to Hendaye (change trains at Paris Austerlitz - same station just a platform change) carries bikes on both trains.
I'll try booking it soon (the agent is Rail-Europe).


I'd be a bit wary of using that website, some of the information doesn't seem to be correct. The train mentioned from Dunkerque to Paris is a TGV (n° 7288) but it definitely arrives at Paris Nord, not Austerlitz. The times for the night train seem to be a bit out as well...

It's probably best to use the actual SNCF website, but the French version, not the English one (http://www.voyages-sncf.com/billet-train ) otherwise you don't get the bike symbol showing that bikes are carried on the train you are interested in.

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 7 Mar 2014, 4:13pm
by ANTONISH
I've tried the sncf website recently but any attempt at booking transferred me to rail europe. I've used the sncf site in the past with no difficulty. As I said I'm going to attempt to book the advertised service ( if not it's plan B ).
I have found currently that the timetable on bonjourlafrance is accurate for the North of France and it displays the appropriate bike symbol.

Re: Train back from Biarritz

Posted: 7 Mar 2014, 5:43pm
by dodger
I turned up at Bayonne station last year and caught a TGV, complete with my bike with no problem. I guess it all depends on how full they are. I also found from experience at 3 different stations that the best thing is to simply go to a ticket booth and purchase a ticket. The three times I sought information from the information booths all 3 were inaccurate. Very impressed with general SNCF staff at Bordeaux and Rennes stations - helpful and knowledgeable!
Tip
Take off panniers before trying to get your bike on, otherwise it's a struggle.