Exploring France on two wheels: How to take your bike on TGV trains

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If you are looking to take your bike on the TGV then read on. This article explains the different options available to you and what you need to be aware of.

The TGV is the French high-speed rail network that travels to a wide range of destinations across the country. It is a great way to travel in France and is very popular with locals. I use the TGV regularly and always love travelling across the country at 320km an hour when they reach top speed. The TGVs are also a great option if you plan to travel with a bike.

The good news is that you can take a bike on a TGV in France and there are two options available to you. The first option is to disassemble your bike, pack it in a bike box and bring it on for free, and the second is to reserve a bike space for 10€ and wheel your fully assembled bike on board. Bikes packed in a bike box must not be larger than 130cm x 90cm so that they fit in the luggage racks on the train. I have taken bikes on TGVs using both methods and share my experience and what I have learned below.

A bike in a soft covering in preparation for travel on a TGV in France
These lightweight covers are ideal for taking your bike on a TGV.

Packing your bike in a bag or box

The cheapest way to take your bike on a TGV is to pack it in a box and simply place it in the luggage racks on the trains which will cost you nothing. The only thing you need to be mindful of is that your bike box can be no larger than 130cm x 90cm. You will find that many commercial bike boxes are larger than this so be aware.

In my experience finding space in the luggage racks can be problematic especially if you are getting on the train mid-route and have more than one bike to find a space for. That being said, we have always found somewhere to put the bikes, and on one occasion that meant in a spare seat. Something else to be mindful of is that other passengers will pile their luggage on top of your bike if that is the only space available. We usually stand near the bikes at stops to make sure this doesn’t happen.

For those who might not have a bike box and just want to get from A to B, you will need to make sure your bike is covered in some way. This could be as simple as a large plastic bag or you could purchase a lightweight bike bag designed for this purpose.

Taking your bike on a TGV fully assembled

In our opinion, this is the easiest way to take a bike on a TGV service as there is a dedicated bike space for your bike and you can simply wheel it on the train. The seats we were allocated were directly across from the bikes so we could keep an eye on them. With this method, you must book and pay 10€ for your bike. Our How to Book a Bike on a French Train article details the process of booking your bike.

If you do plan to utilize this method my advice would be to book as far in advance as possible. Based on the trains I have been on there are only 4 bike spaces available on each TGV and they will book out quickly, especially in the summer months. The bike spaces are only available in second-class carriages.

The last thing to be aware of is that this service on TGVs may not be available on all routes. The easiest way to check is to head to the SNCF Connect website and enter your start and end destinations and add a bike or multiple bikes to the search. The search results will show which services offer bike spaces. If the TGV does not offer a bike space or the bike spaces are full you can consider Intercite trains or TER trains.

Two bikes on a French TGV
Taking a fully assembled bike on a TGV in France is a great way to travel

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We have a few other articles about taking your bike on a French train that you might like to have a look at. The first is our 11 helpful tips about taking a bike on a French Train, the second is What you need to know about taking your bike on French trains and finally Taking a bike on TER trains made easy. The first article explains some of the things we have learned over the years of travelling with our bikes on French trains, the second explains the French rail network and the different services offered, and the last one explains how to take your bike on a TER service.