How do I get to St Malo from US?

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PJ520
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How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby PJ520 » 8 Apr 2015, 7:36pm

We would like to do the France En Velo route later in the year, September, say. Here's my challenge: what's the best way to get to St Malo from the US? Fly to LHR or Orly or De Gaulle? Then take trains or what? Is there an airport anywhere near St Malo? There is a ferry from Plymouth to St Malo. I've taken a bike to LHR before and it was a pain getting anywhere from there. Anybody tell me how to get two of us with bikes and paniers from LHR to Plymouth please? We could return from Paris perhaps. Trouble is I'll be with the Mrs and it all HAS to go relatively smoothly.
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Heltor Chasca
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby Heltor Chasca » 8 Apr 2015, 8:20pm

Hi Pete. If My memory serves me right: In the past I have caught a ferry from Weymouth to St Malo in the Summer. Weymouth isn't a million miles from LHR. I would imagine you can train it via various stops. OR If you fancy driving 'with a stick' hire a small van and do a one way hire from LHR to Weymouth. I don't think any of the coaches take bikes.

I am about 2 hours inland of Weymouth, near Bath. I could pick you guys up from the train station. You are welcome to camp in my garden. Bell tent and wood burner?

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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby wirral_cyclist » 8 Apr 2015, 8:32pm

Pete Jack wrote:We would like to do the France En Velo route later in the year, September, say. Here's my challenge: what's the best way to get to St Malo from the US? Fly to LHR or Orly or De Gaulle? Then take trains or what? Is there an airport anywhere near St Malo? There is a ferry from Plymouth to St Malo. I've taken a bike to LHR before and it was a pain getting anywhere from there. Anybody tell me how to get two of us with bikes and paniers from LHR to Plymouth please? We could return from Paris perhaps. Trouble is I'll be with the Mrs and it all HAS to go relatively smoothly.


You can get a TGV direct from CdG to St Malo, takes about 3.75hrs and around €70 but I don't think TGV take full size bikes.

JJF
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby JJF » 8 Apr 2015, 8:43pm

There is a ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo.
My copy of European Rail (and ferry) Timetable (formerly produced by Thomas Cook) doesn't show any ferries from Weymouth now.

There is a small airport at Dinard which is very near to St Malo. You would need to research how to fly there from UK. There might not be flights from Heathrow. Your suggestion of going via Paris seems more likely.

Des49
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby Des49 » 8 Apr 2015, 9:10pm

Heltor Chasca wrote: In the past I have caught a ferry from Weymouth to St Malo in the Summer.


Unfortunately this route is no longer possible, but you can go from Poole instead. This would have been with Condor Ferries on their Channel Islands - St. Malo service. Their latest boat is too large for Weymouth and no-one wanted to pay to upgrade the harbour facilities.

Getting from Poole to St. Malo may mean a stop in Guernsey or Jersey, no bad thing in itself but does make the journey longer.

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jamesgilbert
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby jamesgilbert » 8 Apr 2015, 9:59pm

I think the easiest option would be a flight to Charles de Gaulle followed by the train. The train station is right in the airport and there are direct high-speed trains from CDG to Rennes which accept bikes for a 10 euro fee. Journey time to Rennes is about 3 hours, you then get a local (called TER) train on to Saint Malo in about 45 minutes (they are quite regular and bikes are free, no reservation required).

If you book well in advance, tickets will only cost about 35 euros per person plus 10 euros per bike.

I'd recommend booking on https://www.capitainetrain.com - ticket prices are the same as the 'official' SNCF website but it's in English and it's possible to book spaces for the bikes on the TGV. You get a booking reference which you just need to enter into a machine at the station to print your tickets, no credit cards involved.

PJ520
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby PJ520 » 8 Apr 2015, 10:41pm

Thanks James this sounds just the ticket (so to speak) and thanks to everyone else who took the trouble to reply. It's starting to look very doable, now all that remains is talking the Mrs into it, a Mont Ventoux of social interactions. Fingers crossed.

Thanks Heltor for your offer. It sounded fun, I haven't slept in a bell tent since school camp near Kirkudbright over 50 years ago. I believe they were WWI vintage. Touch the sides if it was raining and they sprung a leak.
You only live once, which is enough if you do it right. - Mae West

GasPipeWarrior
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby GasPipeWarrior » 9 Apr 2015, 1:01am

Ryanair provide direct flights from London Stansted to Dinard which is around ten miles from St Malo. I have no idea what sort of pain you might experience getting bikes from Heathrow into London - I expect there's a thread on the subject somewhere. I've had occasional problems with the gate staff at Liverpool Street not wanting to allow my bike on an off-peak Stansted Express (regardless of the bike spaces on the train - they must believe that I'd end up blocking their rip-off on-board trolley service).

For pure convenience James' suggestion is the one to follow. The Seat61 website is a handy source of advice and information if you've never travelled on the French rail network.

Good luck on convincing the Mrs. :D

tatanab
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby tatanab » 9 Apr 2015, 7:23am

Here is a suggestion that will be expensive versus trains etc. I used to live in Portsmouth (the nearest ferry port to LHR for St Malo, 70 miles away) so I know that there are several airport taxi companies in and around Portsmouth, I used them regularly when flying out of LHR on business or with a bike. The problem is that there are 2 of you and hence 2 bikes so the company would need to have a mini bus or MPV (minivan in USA). I would expect the cost to be something like £100 each way. The ferry leaves at around 20:00 and the flight arrives mid morning (assuming BA, I flew this route regularly and I lived in Seattle for 2 years as well), so that gives you probably 6 hours to lose in Portsmouth while looking after bikes as well. That might not be too bad because you could assemble your bikes around the ferry terminal and discard any unwanted packaging. Being overnight, the ferry crossing would sensibly need a cabin after an overnight flight which will add £50 minimum. An expensive option and maybe not practical especially depending on timing of flights. Having written all that, I think I would fly to Paris, anything else is simply too time consuming.

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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby TonyR » 9 Apr 2015, 7:38am

GasPipeWarrior wrote:I've had occasional problems with the gate staff at Liverpool Street not wanting to allow my bike on an off-peak Stansted Express (regardless of the bike spaces on the train - they must believe that I'd end up blocking their rip-off on-board trolley service).


I'm surprised it was only occasional - non-folding bikes are not allowed on the Stansted Express.

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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby Vorpal » 9 Apr 2015, 9:45am

The closest airport is Dinard - Pleurtuit - Saint-Malo Airport. They do have international flights, but you will need to change somewhere to a European airline. If you fly to Gatwick, you can change to Aurigny. There are also flights from Stansted and London City. You can take a boxed/bagged bike on the train services like luggage, but if it isn't packed, you may not be allowed to take it on the Stansted Express.

The trains are not too bad between airports, but it may be a bit confusing jet-lagged if you haven't done it before. It's probably best to avoid transfer between airports if you can.

I'm sure that a little research will turn up some other flight options.
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simonhill
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby simonhill » 9 Apr 2015, 9:51am

The Paris and then train option sounds best BUT if I were you I would check the flights and cost of bikes first.

Air France/KLM aren't bike friendly! US airlines often much less so. You could end up paying hundreds of $s for your bikes. BA are usually rated well. Not sure if Virgin do your route, but they are excellent, 20kgs plus free bike.

Also see if anything is flying into Gatwick. Train station in airport and connection to all south coast routes eg to Portsmouth. Bikes not a problem if outside peak hours.

TonyR
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby TonyR » 9 Apr 2015, 11:57am

simonhill wrote:BA are usually rated well. Not sure if Virgin do your route, but they are excellent, 20kgs plus free bike.


+1 for BA and Virgin. US airlines can levy extortionate charges for carrying a bike but BA and Virgin carry them for free. Virgin don't fly from Seattle and they've discontinued their summer flights from Vancouver. Superficially the best route appears to be fly to Paris and then get the train. The big problem with that route is only served with direct flights from Seattle by Air France and Delta. Both charge for bikes. The Air France details are below and the US is Zone 4 so $300 round trip per bike on Air France (or Delta). That might make it mighty attractive to fly BA to London Heathrow then on to Paris even though it means a change of plane (BA is also much nicer to fly than AF or Delta). You could also go from Heathrow to Stansted to catch the St Malo flight and it needn't be too bad a journey. Heathrow Express to Paddington, cycle to Liverpool Street, train to Bishop Stortford, cycle to Stansted. Total cycling distance about 8 miles and you can order cycle route maps for the London leg in advance from Transport for London. I'm sure someone from here would accompany you on that leg as well if you are unsure about cycling in London.

Bikes and tandems
Bikes, folding bikes and tandems can be transported in the hold with prior approval from our Customer Service department. You must submit your request at least 48 hours before your flight’s departure. Folding bikes and tandems cannot be transported in the cabin, regardless of their size.

Transporting bikes, folding bikes and tandems is not included in your baggage allowance. At the airport, you must pay an extra fee* that varies based on your trip.

- Zone 1: €40
- Zone 2: €65 (or 75 USD on flights departing from a country outside the European zone)
- Zone 3: €55 (or 55 USD on flights departing from a country outside the European zone)
- Zone 4: €125 on flights departing from a country within the European zone (150 USD departing from all other countries)
- Zone 5: €100 on flights departing from a country within the European zone (100 USD departing from all other countries)

Your bike, folding bike or tandem must not exceed 23 kg / 50 lb in weight. Beyond this, you must pay a fee for the excess weight at the airport. For more information, please see the Additional Baggage page.

To prepare your bike or tandem for transport, please remember to:

remove the pedals,
remove the front wheel and attach it to the frame,
fix the handlebars to the side (parallel to the frame),
place your bike, folding bike or tandem in a protective container (cardboard, hard plastic, etc.).

Bike containers (175 x 21.5 x 86 cm / 68 x 8 x 33 in) are available for purchase at most Air France airport check-in desks.

Please note: when transporting a bike, folding bike or tandem on air + rail trips, SNCF requires the use of bike cases with the following maximum dimensions: 120 x 90 cm / 47 x 35 in.

irc
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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby irc » 9 Apr 2015, 12:42pm

TonyR wrote:[ That might make it mighty attractive to fly BA to London Heathrow then on to Paris even though it means a change of plane



I'd second that. The luggage check through works well. I've flown UK to USA from Glasgow changing plane at LHR with no issues. Handed the bike in at Glasgow then picked it up in LA. Also coming back San Francisco - LHR - Glasgow. So I'd suggest BA from Seattle to the most suitable French airport.

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Re: How do I get to St Malo from US?

Postby iviehoff » 9 Apr 2015, 1:34pm

Dinard Airport is only served from a few UK airports (and not from any French or other airport), so no practical direct alternative to going via Stansted if you want to fly there. Someone mentioned Aurigny, an airline, who are at Gatwick. But they serve Dinard from Guernsey - maybe it is doable but it would be indirect.

Rennes Airport is the next nearest alternative airport - about 75km from St-Malo - and has a much greater range of flights, the Paris CDG flight being the most useful connection. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rennes%E2% ... es_Airport

TonyR wrote:I'm surprised it was only occasional - non-folding bikes are not allowed on the Stansted Express.

It does now say that, but that is a fairly recent policy change, because it was very different last time I checked, sadly.

When Stansted Express was previously run by National Express, in practice boxed bikes were permitted on the train, even if it the website long said that non-folding bikes in general were not allowed. Maybe this is still true, but probably requires verbal confirmation, because that's how it was for a long time under NEx, before it became an admitted policy rather shortly before they lost control of the operation. When Abellio first took over Stansted Express, they liberalised the regime and allowed bikes in general to be taken. However they have now gone the other way it seems. It is a bit daft because the trains are frequently very empty, I've never been on one that was other than very empty. The sensible thing would be to have a timed policy related to when the train is busy. Also, in the past, there used to be slow non-express trains you could use, subject to time of day restrictions, but those no longer run.

You can still get to Stansted with a bike by train, sort-of, in two rather time-consuming ways. There are trains coming in to Stansted from the north which take bikes. So if you get a train from Liverpool St to somewhere like Audley End or Newport (Essex) - or even Kings Cross to Cambridge - you can then change onto a train to Stansted. I leave detailed research of the best method to others. There will be time-of-day restrictions on the train between London and the change station, and you may need a cycle reservation on the train you change onto, again needs testing, so this is a horrible method I have never tried. The trains coming into Stansted from the N are sometimes very crowded, as they serve midlands/northern cities.

The other way, which I have done a few times, is to take a train from Liverpool St to Bishops Stortford, which is only 3 or 4 miles from Stansted, and cycle the last bit. There will be time of day restrictions on use of this train service. Since it is now illegal to cycle on the A120 in the immediate vicinity of Stansted, you have to use Dunmow Rd to Takeley and then Parsonage Road to the airport, ia Takeley, which is only slightly longer and much more conducive to staying alive than riding the A120. It is slightly entertaining getting out of Bishops Stortford station with a bicycle in the right direction - or at least there is a substantial short-cut avoiding a lot of pain if you find it - so print off a detailed local google map of that. But unfortunately the major M11 junction is not avoidable by any practical route.

On the other hand, Heathrow Express to Paddington takes bikes at all times, or did last time I checked.