Free Bike Transport Along the Loire Begins July 1

By Maggie LaCoste

For those of you lucky enough to be bicycling along the Loire River this summer, SNCF will be offering free bike transportation again this summer.   Train Velo Loire, is the French train service run by TER Centre and Pays de la Loire.  The program was started last summer as an experiment, was hugely successful and will be offered again this summer.  The normal charge for bikes is 5 Euro, so the savings per train ride is 10 Euro for 2 people or about $13.

The bike program will run from Sunday, July 1 to September 2, 2012 and will provide free bike transit for cyclists on all Interloire trains from Orleans to le Croisic.  Bikes are carried in special cars that hold up to 34 bikes.  The service is totally free, although riders are required to purchase a second class ticket.  No reservations are required.  The following are some of the major towns that are served by this train line:  Orleans, Beaugency, Blois, Amboise, St. Pierre, Langeais, Saumur, Angers, Nantes, St. Nazaire and le Croisic.  There are three daily roundtrips and two on the weekend.

Look for this sign for the bike car

This service is just one additional way that the Centre and Pays de la Loire departments are working to encourage cyclotourism along the Loire. Part of the service is supposed to include assistance in loading and unloading bikes from the train.  If in fact this is true, this will be a big feature because loading and unloading your bike from trains can be a bit challenging, particularly the old trains with steps!

Bikes will normally hang on hooks in the bike car

 

One of the wonderful features of bicycling the Loire is the accessibility to trains along the route.  This enables cyclists to pick and choose those areas that they want to bike, using the train to fill in the gaps, thus making the most of your vacation time.  For example, can bicycle several areas in the western Loire, and then take a train to Amboise, where you can explore the chateaux of the Centre region.   The train network along the Loire also provides cyclists with more options for bike rental pickup and return.

Train schedule information is available on the Loire a Velo website, but unfortunately only in French.  But if you use the following codes, you should be able to determine which trains run on which days:

SDF:                  Saturday, Sundays and holidays

SF SDF:            Except for Saturdays, Sundays and holidays

VE SA:               Friday and Saturday

DF:                     Sundays and holidays

If you are planning to visit the Loire and use this Interloire service, please send me a note and let me know about your experience!

 

 

Posted by Maggie LaCoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow way....by bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.

  1. I’m “confused”, especially as I just recently completed another point to point along the Loire, and came back to point A via TER train.

    Since when is bike transport NOT free on the TER trains? It IS, all over France. If I’m not mistaken, the Interloire TER has EXPANDED its ability to carry more bikes (including tandems, recumbents, etc) by adding special cycle carrying wagons to the trains that normally have a few wagons that have 2 hooks for bikes (in the 2nd class wagons).
    This isn’t a story about getting something free — this is a story about extra capacity…

    1. Experience France by Bike June 29, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks for the note! You are correct, from July 1 to September, the Interloire trains add a special car that can accept up to 34 bikes at no charge, and the plan is to have extra Interloire employees that will help load and unload bikes from the train. Regarding bikes “always” being free, this may or may not be true, depending upon the conductor on your train. For the last three summers, we have biked the Loire, and each year we had one instance of a conductor enforcing the fee for bike transit. Technically speaking, they are entitled to ask for the payment. So as bicyclists, we are all lucky that there are many conductors who let us take our bikes for free. More importantly, we are all lucky to have Departments like Centre and Pays de la Loire that are working hard to make the Loire a perfect place for recreational cyclists!

      Maggie LaCoste
      Experience France by Bike