LAST UPDATED: 1 March 2023
Good News! Eurostar and Eurotunnel are open for bikes
Hallelujah! It’s not quite perfect, but there are now two direct train options from the UK to France:
- Eurostar take boxed bikes for £45 on selected trains between London and Paris (book early!)
- Eurotunnel take fully assembled bikes on their £35 shuttle service between Dover and Calais
For an overview of these options and more: see Cycling UK’s excellent primer.
The Chill Option: Train + Ferry + Train
This option can sound intimidating, but it’s the route we’ve used most often, thanks to its awesome flexibility and price tag – not to mention joyfulness.
If you’re worried, get in touch and we’ll guide you through in person.
Random Example: Paris-London
- Paris to Calais train: 1352-1545
- Calais to Dover ferry: 1720-1750
- Dover to London train: 1859-1954
So that’s Paris to London in about four hours (thanks to the time difference!) and currently costs only £50.
The real bonus of train and ferry is that you stay with your bike for the whole journey and you can ride right up and onto the ferry.
Also who doesn’t like a sea voyage?!
There are loads of ferry options for people living in different parts of the country:
- Dover – Calais or Dunkirk (this is the fastest and most frequent crossing)
- Newhaven – Dieppe (this is the one Thighs always use on the ride)
- Plymouth – Roscoff
- Portsmouth – St Malo, Caen, Cherbourg or Le Havre
- Poole – Cherbourg
Check them out and book on directferries.co.uk.
The Train Bits
On the English side, all these ports have convenient train stations. Check out your train service provider policy for info on whether you need to book your bike on in advance.
On the French side, trains run between Paris and all of these locations apart from St Malo.
You can book through:
In France, there are several different types of train so make sure you check the policy for the specific train you’re booked onto.
As a general rule:
- High speed TGV intercity trains ONLY accept bikes if they are dismantled and bagged (see: Great bike bags for train travel)
- TGV local trains, TER and Train Nomad DO take fully assembled bikes but you need to buy them a ticket at the train station
- TGV INOUI: you must book in advance for a €10 charge
- Ouigo trains ONLY accept bikes if they are dismantled and bagged (see: Great bike bags for train travel) Nominal charge of €5, which they often forget about
- TER regional trains take fully assembled bikes: no fee, no booking – but they are slower
Having said all this, we do understand that train + ferry + train is probably more stressful when you haven’t done it before.
Especially that bit about disassembling your bike into a bike bag. That requires a bit of practice, but it’s totally doable by anyone with a bike tool.
If you’re worried, please get in touch with [email protected] and we can chat through the options. We’re confident it’ll work out just great!
Worth Exploring? Coach
Both Flixbus and Blablacar offer coach services across Europe that accept bikes – at least in theory.
Note that both companies state that only folding bikes can be put on as ‘special luggage’, but you might be able to dismantle your non-folding bike and still fit the maximum size regulations.
If you decide to go down this route, we’d advise that you speak to a real human to make sure. Buses leave from London Victoria Coach Station so pop down there and see for yourself.
Crazy Option: Courier
We did try to cut a deal with Sherpr, who courier bikes across Europe, but Brexit means that this service now costs hundreds of £££. Gutted.