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Taking your bike on the train

Taking your bike on the train is simple - and free in most cases.

Riding a bike or taking public transport instead of driving is becoming more popular with rising fuel costs and increasing concerns about the environment.

The good news in France is that these two are compatible, especially if you take the train.

Most local TER train services allow you to take a bike on board, although some ask passengers to be aware that it might not be possible at peak times.

In Rhône-Alpes, Alsace, Auvergne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Alsace and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur (2), all TER trains accept bikes depending on space.

In other regions you should look for a bike symbol on timetables to be sure of your rights, although most trains will accept your bike.

In Ile-de-France, you can take your bike on the Transilien and RER trains outside peak weekday periods.

On TGV trains you can take your bike on longer intercity trips, with two options.

Most TGV trains, and Corail Téoz ones and most Corail Lunéa ones, have room for four to six bikes in special racks at each end of the train, which must be pre-booked (other kinds of Corail train - recognisable by a bike symbol in timetables) have free bike areas on a first-come-first served basis.

The pre-book spaces cost €10 but once you have made the reservation your bike is guaranteed a slot in the compartment.

Alternatively, for TGVs and Corail de jour trains, you can stow your bike in the baggage racks free if it is dismantled and placed in a bag.

Most models, including racing and mountain bikes, will fit neatly into a hausse - bike bag - once the front and back wheels have been taken off.

Tips include turning the front forks backwards, loosening the handlebars and using quick-release brakes and wheels.

Once in a hausse, and is has to be smaller than 1.2 metres long, it can be carried on any train as hand luggage.

Eurostar have a similar policy for bikes in hausse bags.

To transport a bike that has not been disassembled you should take it to the Sernam office at the Gard du Nord, who will arrange for your bike to be taken to your destination for €24.39 each way.

A Eurostar baggage official, however, warned: "If you choose this option on Eurostar, you bike will almost never be transported on the same train you are travelling on."

For long trips another option is to have your bike transported as separate baggage by the baggage service - to book call 36 35 (€0.34min), say “Bagages” or press 41.

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