Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

foxcat
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Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby foxcat » 24 Feb 2020, 10:38pm

Hi everyone, new to this forum so hope this is the right section...

... Planning a family holiday to Loire. Plan is to cycle Tours/Angers then back by train over about a week. Son (6) will be on his own bike, daughter (3) in trailer. We'd like to go by ferry/train rather than take the car but it doesn't look at all easy to get from any of the French ports to Loire by train without either lots of changes or going via Paris and I don't fancy the look of doing Gare du Nord - Montparnasse with kids...

Would be very grateful for any advice / experience?

Thanks!!

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mjr
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby mjr » 25 Feb 2020, 9:07am

I've not done it but the simplest way looks like either overnight ferry Portsmouth to Caen (actually Ouistreham), 15 miles ride on riverside cycleway V43 to Caen station and a direct TER train to Tours (or there are three later journeys changing in Le Mans), or the fast ferry to Cherbourg, a much shorter transfer and two or probably three trains to Tours, changing Caen and Le Mans.

Example trains:

TER3306
dep: 25/02/2020, 09:32 Cherbourg
arr: 25/02/2020, 10:45 Caen

TER16556
dep: 25/02/2020, 11:52 Caen
arr: 25/02/2020, 14:51 Tours

I expect you know that the trailer may be a problem on UK trains, the ferry and maybe French trains unless collapsed during transport.

Good luck!
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

mattheus
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby mattheus » 25 Feb 2020, 9:16am

Some feeble answers:

- I'm fairly sure you can go by train to _Tours_ from the channel port(s). Slow services of course, but they're easier for bikes.

- If you HAVE to cross Paris, when I did a similar traverse in October I found quite a pretty low-traffic route that took in lots of fun sights (e.g. that big scaffolding pointy tower thing). I was happy to push bike across ped crossings in places, rather than be a hero and ride everything (although I did that South-bound as I was worried about time!) So if you give yourself a couple of hours (or more), it could become a positive of the trip.

- - My impression was that it's a less hostile city to cross by bike than London (but still a little crazy), and the sights are nicer.

Jdsk
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby Jdsk » 25 Feb 2020, 10:44am

As above. Long overnight crossing then regional trains.

NB There are cheaper ferries with fewer facilities, but if you cross overnight you probably wouldn't use them anyway. https://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/ships/economie

Then I'd recommend the DB site to find the train routes: https://www.bahn.de/en/view/index.shtml. That offers useful restrictions on searches including carriage of bikes.

Jonathan

PS: Have a look at France en Velo: http://franceenvelo.cc/route/. It's a through route but you could pick bits of it, and it has a nice selection of hotels and B&Bs and campsites and restaurants and bike shops...
Last edited by Jdsk on 25 Feb 2020, 2:44pm, edited 3 times in total.

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pjclinch
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby pjclinch » 25 Feb 2020, 10:46am

foxcat wrote:Hi everyone, new to this forum so hope this is the right section...

... Planning a family holiday to Loire. Plan is to cycle Tours/Angers then back by train over about a week. Son (6) will be on his own bike, daughter (3) in trailer. We'd like to go by ferry/train rather than take the car but it doesn't look at all easy to get from any of the French ports to Loire by train without either lots of changes or going via Paris and I don't fancy the look of doing Gare du Nord - Montparnasse with kids...


We are Warm Showers hosts (sort of a free Air B&B for cycle tourists) and last summer played host to a French family from Grenoble for a night either way on their way to and from the far north. That was mum, dad, 2 children (IIRC about 10 & 12) and a 1 year old. Baby was in a trailer, everyone else had their own bikes.

They did the Big Transfer entirely by rail through the tunnel, changing in London at St. Pancras to Kings Cross and then up to Dundee. Don't know what the changes were in France, but whatever they were they did them with 4 bikes, a trailer, two kids and a bairn and came through smiling!

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 25 Feb 2020, 1:12pm

I'd echo mjr's suggestion: the Ouistreham-Caen cycleway is simple and direct and goes pretty much straight to Caen station. If you catch the overnight ferry you'll be in Caen before breakfast. Last summer I rode this as part of the Velo Francette route from Ouistreham/Caen down to the Loire - a great route in itself.

Freewheeling France has a very useful guide to taking bikes on trains in France, including TER maps: https://www.freewheelingfrance.com/plan ... rains.html

I wrote a little about trains along the Loire valley in the cycle.travel route guide (under "Getting there"): https://cycle.travel/route/loire
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 25 Feb 2020, 2:30pm

The overnight crossing is great for children, sleeping on a boat!
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foxcat
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby foxcat » 25 Feb 2020, 6:28pm

Wow, thanks everyone - these thoughts are incredibly helpful!! Definitely like the idea of the river cycle to Caen, and a slow day across Paris also appealing... Could do both! We've been to Loire many times with bikes but always dumped everything in the car. But this year we rashly promised the 6yr old we'd do a tour holiday camping along route. Yes, assumed we would have to collapse the trailer on trains which is why we're trying to avoid too many changes! Lots to research, thanks again!

foxcat
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby foxcat » 25 Feb 2020, 6:29pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:The overnight crossing is great for children, sleeping on a boat!


I grew up near Plymouth, and still firmly believe summer doesn't start without a ferry trip!!

foxcat
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby foxcat » 25 Feb 2020, 6:33pm

mjr wrote:I've not done it but the simplest way looks like either overnight ferry Portsmouth to Caen (actually Ouistreham), 15 miles ride on riverside cycleway V43 to Caen station and a direct TER train to Tours (or there are three later journeys changing in Le Mans), or the fast ferry to Cherbourg, a much shorter transfer and two or probably three trains to Tours, changing Caen and Le Mans.

Example trains:

TER3306
dep: 25/02/2020, 09:32 Cherbourg
arr: 25/02/2020, 10:45 Caen

TER16556
dep: 25/02/2020, 11:52 Caen
arr: 25/02/2020, 14:51 Tours

I expect you know that the trailer may be a problem on UK trains, the ferry and maybe French trains unless collapsed during transport.

Good luck!


Brilliant, thank you!

hamster
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Re: Kids & bikes to Loire by train?

Postby hamster » 4 May 2020, 3:57pm

No trouble with the trailer on the service Poole-Cherbourg. I used it last year with no trouble.

The Caen canal route also goes past Cafe Gondree and Pegasus Bridge, well worth visiting. Also there is a decent cafe by the first roundabout from the ferry terminal, it's open from 0630 so very convenient when rolling off the boat.