Getting your bike across the Channel

Getting your bike across the Channel

LAST UPDATED: 7 June 2022

The Bad News: Eurostar and Eurotunnel

Eurostar are currently not accepting bike bookings:

We’re hoping to relaunch our bike service in the Summer months. Due to changes to customs rules post-Brexit, we won’t be able to offer a full service at first. Instead, we’ll launch a limited service for fully assembled bikes or disassembled bikes in your own bag on selected trains between Paris and London.

Eurostar FAQs

Keep an eye on the Eurostar bikes page for updates.

Eurotunnel are also currently unable to offer their bike service – a bus in the tunnel between Dover and Calais.

Keep an eye on the Eurotunnel page for updates.

Our Saviour! Train + Ferry + Train

I (David) have done loads of overland travel from the UK to Europe and actually prefer the train + ferry + train option over Eurostar. Honest.

Eurostar, even when it’s accepting bikes, is a bit of a faff because your bike doesn’t go on your train – you have to deliver it and collect it at different times.

The ferry route is 1h30 on the ferry itself, plus 2h on the Paris train and at least 1h on the train to wherever you’re going in England, plus you’ll need plenty of time for connections.

But it’s really not that much longer when you factor in the bike drop off and collection for Eurostar.

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.

Ferry Options

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 the English language side of the French SNCF national train service or on Rail Europe.

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.