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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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French Travel – Part Two

More good news…

All trains, TGV and TER are 99% on time. And, I’ve found the “trainpersons”(with very few exceptions) to be extremely helpful and courteous. In major stations, someone(maybe even some two)will speak English. Otherwise, someone may speak “a leetle eeeglish.”

6. Bus

In three words – “Don’t go there.”  There is no French “Greyhound.” No regular, National bus service. Regional bus options are severly limited, to say the least. With schedules as variable as the weather in Paris.

What ya got…

The most consistent bus services are from “the burbs” into the big smoke. Short hops ‘o 10 to 20kms. Most train stations in large/medium sized cities will have a bus depot attached, or nearby. “Gare”(rhymes with Car) Routier” is the unpredictable adventure sign to look for.

7. Bicycle

Yes,I have saved the best for the last! And, yes, I am prejudicied. But rightly so.

Made in the shade…

On two(non motorized wheels) no worries with motors overheating, garages, traffic, propane, camping spots, sewage/electrical hookup. Not to mention – fuel.For the cyclist, that’s fruit water and granola bars.(Plus all the home made goodies the locals load ya up with!)

Yes, you could conceivably run into a Sanglier. But not likely, since you’re in the same environment. Not removed from it, in a metal box encased in glass.

Goin’ through a major city? Piece ‘o cake. If the roads are blocked – use the sidewalk.(a 360 euro fine in paris. So, jus’ speak English and smile.You’re a tourist right?….whaddya know?) Everywhere else, I’ve never had a problem.

Emergency Option

If it’s too hot/cold/wet/long/boring, or any/all of the preceding – there is the train. Bikes are free on the TER. Although there is not always a dedicted “velo wagon.” Meaning that if you don’t see a bicycle “logo” on any cars as the train screeches to a stop – you have two scant minutes to(attempt to) scramble aboard and find  spot that does’nt block an aisle or a toilet. Best bet in this situation is the front of the car immediately behind the engine. Usually no toilet there.

The fun’s not over…

On older TER trains(the majority)you enter via two high metal steps,leading to a heavy metal door that does’n fully open, and is a bitch to open even without a bike! So if yer bike n’ gear can’t be finessed through in one swell foop, be ready to set a new train boarding record in the breaking down and loading category.

Don’t put away yer wallet yet…

Because Monsieur et Madame TGV will want(at this writing) 10 euro for the exalted priviledge of allowing yer two wheeled pal aboard…….IF the TGV you need even has a “velo wagon.” If not, you is travellin’ solo, or makin’ a very long ride!

There’s one in every barrel

Also have yer radar up for the occasional “rotten apple” TGV conductor. Who, although you have paid, will not allow you on because yer (loaded) touring bike is not in a bag! Viva la France!

It’s not over yet…

But wait – there’s more! Four to be exact .(by my count.) Only four elevators in the entire French rail system. So if you’re “physically disadvantaged”, got a too heavy to lift bike, more suitcases than sense, or a potted palm from yer cousin in Florida – “Tant Pis!” (“Too Bad”)

More Bicycle Bennies…

In this cycle-crazed nation(“Tour de France, etc) there are cycle paths/routes in most(but not all)regions. Alsace is especially “cyclified.”With free maps specifically for the two wheeled crowd that take you deep into very cool and quiet spots. (And are’nt those the best kind?)

The Bottom(Bicycle)Line

There’s no waiting! You go when/where you want. At the speed you choose.

Alrighty then! – Five French Travel options. Which ones for you?


What are ya thinkin’?

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5 Responses to “French Travel – Part Two”

  1. yop vanderwhal says:

    appreciative your info. Especially the fine for riding on the sidewalk in paris. won’t be doin’ that!

  2. dick cavendish says:

    glad to get this information. getting the feedback of someone who’s had actual experience with the subject is rare this days. many thanks.

  3. clavin v sutherland says:

    great to get travel advice that isn’t all sunshine and roses. good to see a few warts!

  4. mavis and paul hearn says:

    Love your sense of humor! the information is great too. we’re planning our first trip with your recommendations firmly in mind.
    all the best!

  5. frances says:

    Really good researched article, thanks for the advice. Bike Beanies hahah!


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