Author Topic: Tandems on French trains  (Read 976 times)

Tandems on French trains
« on: February 11, 2019, 10:30:32 am »
I'm not sure if this should be here or on the PBP board, but does anyone have any experience of taking a tandem on trains in France? It it feasible at all, or should we find another way to get to the start? The tandem in question is a Hase Pino, so not as long as some, but quite bulky in other ways.

Re: Tandems on French trains
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2019, 10:55:19 am »
I have no direct experience, but found this that may help.

http://www.freewheelingfrance.com/planning-a-trip/bikes-and-french-trains.html

which contains this...

"Tandems, trailers and other bikes

Tandems, trailers and other 'non-standard' bikes are not permitted on TGVs or Intercites services. They are also generally banned from TERs, however we have received dozens of reports from cyclists who have used local TER services with no problems. Arrive early, be courteous and avoid peak-hour travel. Also be prepared to wait for the next service if you do happen across a conductor who won't let you on. It also may help to collapse trailers etc to make your load look as small as possible."

ETA - I suspect "The French Tandem" of this parish are the ones to ask  :)
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Tim Hall

  • I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes
Re: Tandems on French trains
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2019, 02:00:14 pm »
I've taken a Pino and trailer on a French train. It was in 2001, when Le Tour started at Dunkirk. The depart the next day was from St Omer, so once they'd all whizzed off we toddled off to the station, had a lovely steak in the excellent restaurant forming part of the station and than hoiked the Pino aboard the train to Calais.  I'm guessing it was a local service, given the distance of the journey and I don't think we had a reservation, just deployed the MkI winning smile. 
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)

Re: Tandems on French trains
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2019, 02:50:46 pm »
One or two of the intercity trains we used a couple of years ago from Avignon to Arles had fairly steep carriage steps whereas a new local Bombadier train to Carpentras had wonderful access.
Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

Re: Tandems on French trains
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2019, 06:10:37 pm »
If you take a ferry to Le Havre,you are only 180-190 km from the start in Rambouillet.  Consider that any train from Le Havre will bring you straight to central Paris, and then you'll have to sort your way out of Paris to Rambouillet, I think the ride from the ferry to Rambouillet is the shortest and easiest option, especially if you don't enjoy riding through heavy traffic!

Re: Tandems on French trains
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2019, 06:56:51 pm »
Local trains (TER) in France tend to have large bike spaces with 8 or so hooks for hanging bikes vertically. If yours is the only bike on you might get away with putting a tandem on the floor beneath them.

They only Intercites I’ve been on had a whole compartment stripped out as the bike space - just a big empty space, but as Canardly alludes to getting an awkward bike on board may not be easy.

My limited experience of French train staff is that they’re helpful rather than needlessly officious, but that’s based on a small sample.

Re: Tandems on French trains
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2019, 10:00:53 pm »
It's going back ten years now, but after a truly rotten, wet & windy day my better half & I decided that the last thirty miles of our day would be best spent in the comfort of a train carriage rather than enjoying the feeling of rain running down your legs and into your shoes, so we abandoned at a local train station somewhere near Bayeux (as in Tapestry) and caught the train. Two Brits, a fully loaded Dawes Galaxy Twin, an English / French phrase book and no idea what to expect.

It could not have been easier. The ticket machine had an English option, the station staff helpful, the train a large bicycle symbol and as mentioned up thread the train itself had loads of hooks to hold solos vertically. We couldn’t use those hooks and I ended up just tying the bike to a vertical grab rail, not perfect but nobody battered an eye lid or raised an under the breath grumble or otherwise.

Now, it might have been the case the station staff saw two thick Brits with a loaded & oversize bike and realised that we would cause their train to run late if we were slow at loading up and maybe they were just being helpful to avoid any delays. No ideas, but what I can say is that it really was easy and the French local service trains are easy to use.


Re: Tandems on French trains
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2019, 11:09:46 am »
Thanks for all your help everyone - it sounds like the chances are we'll manage to get it on trains eventually. This is rather like the situation in the UK in some ways - we've never been absolutely refused yet...

I like the idea of cycling 200k to the start and to the finish, but I'm not sure the total time I can get with no childcare is going to allow journeys that relaxed, unfortunately.

Re: Tandems on French trains
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2019, 09:56:18 pm »
It may well depend on the rolling stock in use on the service you choose,which seems to change every time I take a train (more frequent in the last couple of years than in the 30 years before). The rules are one thing, what happens in real life is another completely. Suitcases are a case in point - total anarchy! If you want to play the rules, make sure you have a label on it with your name and address (meant to be your seat reservation as well). This is obligatory under Vigipirate rules - but you'll look hard to find a labelled suitcase! I have never tried to take my tandem on a train in France though, only in UK.