Reader Question: Can I take my bike on a trip across France using trains?
It is possible to travel with a bike on a French train, but the rules and facilities vary depending on the nature of the service and the type of bike.
If you have a bike which will not fold, it must be placed in a dedicated bike storage space (if available).
If you have a folding bike, you can travel with it as long as it is folded and measures 130 x 90cm or less in this state.
If the bike is disassembled, you may travel with it as long as the parts are carried in a bag measuring 130 x 90cm or less.
You should label your bike in case it is lost, load and unload it yourself and make sure that you are not blocking the passageways on board the train.
On TER trains you can travel with your bike free of charge. It should be placed in a space designed for holding bikes and TER trains are generally equipped with some of these. In some cases the bike has to be suspended vertically from a bar.
It is worth noting that these spaces cannot be reserved and are used on a first come first served basis.
It is also worth noting that in some regions bikes might be banned on trains at rush hour, so it is best to check with your local service beforehand.
Brittany offers a service to pre-book a bike space for €1 on TER trains but this only operates in the summer.
You can bring your bike onto TGV Inoui trains by booking a space for it.
For non-folding bikes, this reservation is obligatory and must be made when you buy your ticket, and costs €10 per bike per journey. Your seat will automatically be placed near the bike rack.
Sometimes, there will be no option to book a place for your bike, which means the train in question does not have spaces available.
Folding and disassembled bikes in bags can travel free of charge and without a specific reservation as long as they are within the dimensions mentioned above.
It should be noted that tricycles, tandems, cargo bikes, bikes with trailers and recumbent bikes are not generally allowed to travel on Inoui trains.
Folding and disassembled bikes can travel on low-cost Ouigo Grand Vitesse and Trains Classiques trains for €5.
Non-folding bikes may only travel on Train Classique services for €10.
Bikes travel free on commuter Transilien trains in the Ile-de-France region, but only before 06:30, between 09:30 and 16:30 and after 19:30 on weekdays.
On weekends, they can travel free at all times of day.
However, no matter the date or time, you may not travel with your bike at all if it is very busy.
Folding bikes are not subject to time restrictions.
Non-folding bikes are not allowed on métro trains, apart from the Ligne 1 on Sundays and public holidays before 16:30.
On RER trains, bikes may only travel at the off-peak times mentioned above in relation to Transilien trains.
Travelling with a bike on Intercités trains costs €10, and the place must be reserved in advance.
However, there are often not many spaces on these trains, and they are only in second class.
It is not possible to add a bike space onto a booking, it must be done when you buy your ticket.
Folding and children’s bikes may travel on Eurostar trains if they are carried in a bag.
However, Eurostar’s oversized luggage service was suspended at the start of the Covid pandemic, but it has said that it is working to reopen it.
On Thalys trains, it is possible to travel with a bike, but spaces are limited.
The operator says that the bikes must be disassembled and carried in a soft bag measuring 135 x 85 x 30 cm or less.
People travelling with a bike must get to the platform at least 30 minutes before departure.
Folding bikes are considered a normal piece of luggage as long as they measure 75 x 53 x 30cm while folded.
Bikes may only travel on Lyria trains between France and Switzerland on condition that they are folded, or have their wheels removed. They must also be carried in bags measuring no more than 130 x 90cm.
Buses and planes
It is not possible to take a bike with you onto an urban bus service, but on rail replacement coach services, for example, they will normally be allowed to travel in the hold.
It is best to look into local service providers’ rules beforehand so as to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Bikes can be checked in as hold luggage on planes, and you will be charged according to their weight. They must be correctly packaged in a bag or case.
You should check with the airline before you arrive at the airport so that you know what to do with the bike.