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We aim to make all of our holidays easily accessible. Most means of transport will offer greater reductions the further in advance you book. The information below is intended as a guide only and may change without warning or our knowledge.
We do not offer commercial transfers operated by a third party but we will do our very best to get you to and from the airport or train station in our vans at either end of your holiday. There are no hard and fast rules as each tour, and each departure date, is different with our vehicles almost always coming from a different direction than the last time, so when you book get in touch and we will tell you your options. If we are unable to arrange to meet up with you, we will let you know how to get to the start point or the first hotel. Rest assured that you will not be abandoned in the middle of France and where you do have to make your own way to the start it will be very straightforward. For example, on our St Malo to Sete and our routes into Nice, it is likely that you will have to find your own way to the station / airport at the end of the tour as the vans will have left on our 'bike return service'; however, it is very simple and cheap in either case to find your own way and we will provide maps and details for you.
If travelling from the UK, by far the easiest way to arrive on many of our trips is by ferry from the south coast of England with very reasonable tariffs for foot passengers with a bicycle (from roughly £50 return). Portsmouth is readily accessible by train from London and also has a long stay car park at the ferry terminal (or you may prefer to find a side street to park nearby) with good access from the M27, M3 and A34.
The most convenient ferries are operated by Brittany Ferries and their ships all have excellent restaurants with fantastic buffets at dinner and breakfast time and afterwards the bars and entertainment mean your holiday starts before you arrive in France. There is the great advantage that you do not have to take your bike apart and can ride on whilst the motorists are still queuing to get on. You will also be amongst the first off the boat. On booking we will give you a discount code which will secure a 10% reduction on the cost of the ferry (fare only - not cabins).
Please note that on some busy sailings Brittany Ferries make it difficult for cyclists or foot passengers to book a ferry. Often the online booking system will say that the sailing is full. Even when not full, it will sometimes only allow a reclining seat to be taken, rather than a cabin. If this happens, get in touch with us and we have ways to circumvent the problem.
We are great fans of train travel as it prevents you having to turn up at a busy airport at 5am having spent the previous day making sure your bike is safely packed, pay as much for your airport parking as you do for your entire train ticket, and struggle through endless customs and security controls only to find your bike has ended up in Malaga. With the train you can sit back and enjoy the view and with a bit of planning the journey can be very straightforward.
If you are travelling by train we recommend the French railways website www.voyages.sncf.fr We are happy to advise if you require help booking through this site – just telephone and we will guide you through it. They have some fantastic deals when booking in advance and reservations open 3 months before the travel date.
There is a new feature on the SNCF website which allows you to see which trains take bikes fully assembled. You need to use the French version (click French flag top right) and when entering your start and finish point, click '+ de criteres' just underneath. More options will appear and click on 'Voyagez avec votre velo' then tick the box 'Je voyage avec mon velo'. Select ' vélo(s) non plié(s) ou non démonté(s)' which is for fully assembled bikes, or the second option if you have a bike bag. Note the maximum size of bike bags is 120cm x 90cm, which means bike boxes are usually unsuitable. There is generally a charge for fully assembled bikes which ranged from 10 - 20 euros. Bikes in a bag go as normal luggage free of charge.
Travellers from the UK can also do far worse than taking the Eurostar and changing at Lille or Paris. Again, when booked in advance, fares can be very competitive and the www.voyages.sncf.fr website is arguably the more useful place to research your options.
Like all major cities Paris has many mainline railway stations so we advise changing trains at Lille if at all possible, so that you will only have to change platforms rather than cross a city to make your connection. That said a night in Paris before or after your holiday is not a bad thing!
If travelling from the south of France a good option is to take the night train, which arrives in Paris at 7 or 8am. You can reserve a couchette or, for a cheaper option, a reclining seat. These trains allow you to take your bike fully assembled, and if you then book it onto Eurostar assembled, you do not need to worry about bike boxes.
You should be aware of restrictions in taking bikes on trains in France; on some TGVs you can take them on fully assembled (but have to pre-book for €10) but on others you have to put them in a bike bag ('housse' in French), where your bike is then considered as hand luggage and there is no need to book it on the train in advance. If taking a bike bag the maximum size for it is 1.2 m x 0.9m. You will therefore need to take the wheels off, and, depending on your bicycle, mudguards and pedals too. On regional trains you can just turn up with a fully assembled bike and don’t need to book or pay for the bike. We can advise on which trains require what, and what is best for each of our trips.
The mainline back from Nice and Sete does not take assembled bikes and we now offer a Bike Return service from the south of France to meet specific arrivals at London St Pancras, allowing you to travel stress-free!
Arriving by air there are airports local to our trips; otherwise Paris Charles de Gaulle has high speed rail connections throughout France, often without the need to change stations in central Paris.
We will do our best to collect and deliver you from and to local airports at the start and finish of our holidays – see the individual holiday pages for which airports we collect from. If travelling by air you may need to arrive the day before and we can reserve a hotel for you on request.
European Bike Express
The European Bike Express http://www.bike-express.co.uk/ combines luxury coach travel with bike transport in a purpose-built trailer, meaning no dismantling of bikes. This is an excellent option for our Loire Source to Sea, Atlantic Seaboard, Loire Valley Classic, Picardy and Champagne, Bordeaux and Alsace tours.
Travel to / from St Malo:
The easiest option if travelling from the UK is to take the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St. Malo (from £35 as foot passenger with bicycle). Alternatively fly to Dinard (RyanAir from Stansted, Leeds and East Midlands) or Rennes (Flybe from Southampton, Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester and Edinburgh, Aer Lingus from Dublin). If flying into Paris you can take a train direct from Charles de Gaulle airport to Rennes and change there for St Malo (journey time 3 to 3.5 hours. Fares from €40 if booked 3 months in advance; up to €100 if booked the week before).
Travel from Sete:
Sete has a railway station on the TGV network, or take the local train to Montpellier which is only 20 minutes away and has more regular TGV services. Sete to London can be done for as little as 88 Euros with a change in Paris or Lille when booked well in advance. If returning to London it is better, if possible, to select a train with a change at Lille rather than Paris as this means a simple change of platform rather than terminus. The railway station in Sete is a 10 minute walk from the hotel.
Airports in the region include Beziers (Ryanair to Bristol, Luton and Manchester) Montpellier (Ryanair to Leeds and Birmingham; Easyjet to Gatwick and Luton), Perpignan (Ryanair to Stansted), Marseille (Ryanair to Stansted and Edinburgh; Easyjet to Gatwick and Bristol).
We offer our bike return service for our supported St Malo to Sete rides.
Travel from Nice:
Nice has a mainline railway station (Gare de Nice Ville) on the TGV network, with fast and frequent services to Paris and also Lille (for Eurostar). If returning to London it is better, if possible, to select a train with a change at Lille rather than Paris as this means a simple change of platform rather than terminus. The station is about 10 minutes from the hotel by foot.
France's second largest airport is at Nice connecting with the majority of UK airports and international destinations, with both Low Cost and National airlines represented. Nice airport is on the edge of the city and there are fast, frequent and cheap shittle busses which pass not far from the hotel and take about 20 minutes.
We offer our bike return service for our supported Calais to Nice and St Malo to Nice rides.
Travel to / from Ouistreham (Caen ferry terminal):
The easiest option if travelling from the UK is to take the ferry from Portsmouth to Ouistreham (from £35 as foot passenger with bicycle). There aren’t many airports local to Caen with international flights. If flying into Paris you can take a train from Charles de Gaulle airport to Le Mans and change there for Caen (journey time from 4 hours). Fares from €48 if booked 3 months in advance; up to €100 if booked the week before.
Travel to / from Lille
Lille has an international station, Lille Europe, which is on the Eurostar line and also connects with TGV trains from throughout France. There is also a domestic station, Lille Flandres, which is only a couple of hundred meters from Lille Europe, so the city is extremely well placed.
Lille Europe connects directly with Charles de Gaulle airport.
Travel to / from Tours
Tours train station connects with Caen via the TER train – these are the local trains where just turn up with your bike. You can either travel by ferry to Ouistreham and ride to Caen station (a flat 15km alongside the canal) or take the shuttle bus between Ouistreham and Caen. Tours is only an hour and a half from Paris by TGV, and it also connects directly with Lille Europe for the Eurostar.
If flying into Paris you can take a train direct from Charles de Gaulle airport to Tours (journey time from 2h20m). Fares from €32 if booked 3 months in advance; up to €60 Euros if booked the week before).
From the UK many people drive to Tours and leave their car at the start; after all, this is the Loire Valley and there is a boot ready to be filled with wine!
Travel to Le Puy en Velay
Le Puy en Velay is easily accessible from the mainline at Nice with regular services on which you can take fully assembled bikes.
Lyon is the closest airport (EasyJet from Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Stansted and Gatwick) and has many connections worldwide and you can then get a train onwards to Le Puy en Velay which is a very enjoyable journey up the Loire river Gorge.
The European Bike Express coach goes to Valence and Lyon.
Travel from St Nazaire
St Nazaire is on the TGV to Paris and also direct to Lille Europe for Eurostar connections. You can also change at Nantes for trains to Rennes and St Malo or Ouistreham.
Airports are at Nantes (EasyJet and Flybe from Gatwick, Flybe from Manchester, RyanAir from Dublin and Shannon), Rennes (Flybe from Southampton, Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester and Edinburgh, Aer Lingus from Dublin), or even Brest (Air France / Flybe from Southampton and Birmingham, CityJet from London City)
Travel to / from Strasbourg
Strasbourg is well connected as you might expect, with fast and frequent trains from Paris for Eurostar connections (from €125 from London).
The airport is well-served with flights from throughout Europe, although not from the UK.
The European Bike Express goes to Nancy which has good links to Strasbourg.
Travel to / from Reims
Reims has a 'normal' station in the city centre and a TGV station 5 miles away, officially called Champagne-Ardennes TGV, but also sometimes referred to as 'Reims TGV'. Direct trains from here to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport take half an hour, and under one hour into the centre of Paris (Paris Est station). Reims also has direct services to the south of France, the west coast and to Lille Europe.
Travel to / from Bordeaux
Bordeaux has an airport on many national and low-cost airlines' routes, including Bristol (Easyjet) Dublin (Aer Lingus), Edinburgh (RyanAir), Liverpool (Easyjet), Gatwick (BA and Easyjet), Luton (Easyjet) . From the station there is a bus, then tram, which takes you into the city centre.
Being a major city it also has excellent train connections with the TGV from Paris taking from 3 hours.
Travel to Biarritz
Direct trains from Paris take about 5 hours. Biarritz also has an airport with some seasonal flights. You could also fly to Bordeaux and take the train down to Biarritz.
Travel to La Rochelle
Flights to La Rochelle from Gatwick, Stansted, Bristol, Manchester and Southampton.
Flights back from Perpignan to Stansted and Birmonham or from Carcassonne to Stansted, Manchester, Glasgow and Nottingham East Midlands. Alternative return airports include Beziers and Toulouse.