Planning a trip using SNCF (French railways)

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rudge
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Planning a trip using SNCF (French railways)

Postby rudge » 4 Sep 2015, 11:14pm

I would like to take a bike on a train from Caen in northern France to Bordeaux in the south west.

in France you can take a bike on a train badged TER (regional, stopping) but not TGV (long distance express).

The SNCF on-line journey planner offers TGV only for long distances.

It must be possible to go from any station to any other by TER so I should be able to get from Caen to Bordeaux. Does anyone know how to plan such a journey without immense labour?

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simonineaston
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Re: Planning a trip using SNCF (French railways)

Postby simonineaston » 5 Sep 2015, 7:29am

Topics discussing French railway journies often include a reference to capitainetrain, thus: https://www.capitainetrain.com/signin Not bought tickets this way myself, but it looks Good! :-)
Caen to Bordeaux will likely take you through Paris, unless you take steps otherwise...
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

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robgul
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Re: Planning a trip using SNCF (French railways)

Postby robgul » 5 Sep 2015, 8:54am

simonineaston wrote:Topics discussing French railway journies often include a reference to capitainetrain, thus: https://www.capitainetrain.com/signin Not bought tickets this way myself, but it looks Good! :-)
Caen to Bordeaux will likely take you through Paris, unless you take steps otherwise...


Yep - I've used the Capitaine for loads of journeys - with and without bikes - excellent! - and if you have a question their email response time is almost instant during an extended working day.

More and more of the TGVs now have wheel-on facilities (i.e. not bagged) ... Cap Train has the details and can make bookings. From experience with quite a few rail journeys in France this summer most of the non-TGV trains have no issue with just wheeling a bike on with you.

Rob

ludo
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Re: Planning a trip using SNCF (French railways)

Postby ludo » 6 Sep 2015, 8:48pm

There are some tgv trains that will accept bikes without having to dismantle them. Yesterday I experimented on capitain trains website and found that it is possible to get go almost any station in France by train without dismantling your bike. Geneva seems to be the exception. TGVs that will accept bikes have to be booked on and the booking fee is 10 Euros. The trains will take a Max of 4 bikes.
Capitain trains website seems to be more bike friendly than SNCF.

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rudge
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Re: Planning a trip using SNCF (French railways)

Postby rudge » 12 Sep 2015, 6:19am

Thank you all. I have never heard of capitaine trains. I will try them

Colgrenfell
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Re: Planning a trip using SNCF (French railways)

Postby Colgrenfell » 13 Sep 2015, 4:35pm

+1 for Capitaine trains - web app is especially good: once a ticket has been bought it sends a push notification telling which platform to go to!
much much better than the SCNF site, especially indentifying the TER routes you can take your bike on for no extra charge.

slowpoke
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Re: Planning a trip using SNCF (French railways)

Postby slowpoke » 19 Sep 2015, 3:24pm

We have taken standard bikes on TGVs in a bag as regular walk on luggage with the wheels off so it's just a big ugly bag. And having switched to a folding tourer, i cannot extol its virtues too much when multi-moding. An expressive eybrow or two went up at our not so cunningly disguised big bikes - but we were not stopped. Of course, it is always best to feel assured that it will work and not stand by the train with the heart going pitter pat.

My experience with French Railway employees is that they are almost always helpful if approached suitably. Say bonjour, M'sieu with a smile and an honorific (the essential prelude to any successful encounter with French persons of any station and capacity. It never does to just walk up and start asking - no matter how politely - without this first greeting) and then ask them nicely if they can help you. They will often say initially that whatever it is is not permitted - desolee. Then you say 'alas, I am {old, tired, young, stuck, would be eternally grateful, my father was in the war} and it would help me so much - mournfully and metaphorically showing the throat. And then they say, but by the grace of god and the authority permitted to them as petit fonctionnaires, they will make the allowance. Everyone is all smiles! So, they establish their authority, you show proper deference and then they extend mercy and feel generous-hearted. Everybody's honor is enhanced. Do not be demanding or arrogant if this strategy doesn't work - because that will work even less well - instead ask for their advice on your predicament and let them be the creative hero.

Do not try to get your bike on a suburban train during rushhour. Prefer trains that have bike symbols on the timetable. Look at the diagram of the train (there is a board that shows the composition of the train's carriages for every train throughout the day) and stand where the bike carriage will be. Don't overload your bike with huge panniers.

We have gotten on no-bike trains, had our bikes stored in the station office when there was no left luggage, and been assisted and cossetted all over France by very helpful railway staff. I am very fond of SNCF.