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Provence this September



 
 
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  #1  
Old June 11th 04, 12:49 AM
GLH1013
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Default Provence this September

Last year we biked Venice to Lucca via Florence with a side train trip to
Cinque Terra.
This year my wife & I will be flying from Milwaukee to Paris (CDG airport), KLM
on Sept 5, 2004.

We plan to take the high speed train direct from CDG to Avignon. We are
bringing our own bikes in boxes. We plan to set up a home base camp at the
campground on the island next to Avignon. We plan to take day bike trips to
Arles, St Remy, Pont du Gard, Orange, Utes, Baux in Provence, along with a few
other places. Some days we will stay overnite enroute.

We plan to train back to Paris for a few days of sightseeing there. We will be
in country for 15 days.

I will have just turned 60 and I hear that I might be eligible for special
discounted train fare. We are interested in suggestions for this trip from
those of you in the know. Any info will be appreciated.

If you know, when and where should we get our train tickets?
Do you know of reasonably priced and located Paris lodging?
Where can we get bike boxes for our return flight?

Thanks in advance.

Gary & Donna


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  #2  
Old June 11th 04, 10:58 AM
Robert Chung
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Default Provence this September

GLH1013 wrote:
This year my wife & I will be flying from Milwaukee to Paris (CDG
airport), KLM on Sept 5, 2004.

We plan to take the high speed train direct from CDG to Avignon. We are
bringing our own bikes in boxes. We plan to set up a home base camp at
the campground on the island next to Avignon. We plan to take day bike
trips to Arles, St Remy, Pont du Gard, Orange, Utes, Baux in Provence,
along with a few other places. Some days we will stay overnite enroute.

We plan to train back to Paris for a few days of sightseeing there. We
will be in country for 15 days.

I will have just turned 60 and I hear that I might be eligible for
special discounted train fare. We are interested in suggestions for
this trip from those of you in the know. Any info will be appreciated.

If you know, when and where should we get our train tickets?
Do you know of reasonably priced and located Paris lodging?
Where can we get bike boxes for our return flight?

Thanks in advance.

Gary & Donna




The SNCF website has an English-language passenger guide that discusses
senior discounts.
http://www.voyages-sncf.com/info_res...able_fares/hom
e.htm?LG=FR&Rubrique=Available+Fares

Before the Madrid train bombings you could take your bike on the TGV, but
it had to be held in an "housse," a bag of specific maximal external
dimensions that basically requires that the wheels, any luggage racks, and
pedals be off and the handlebar and seat post height be minimized, and
placed in the open (and non-secure) luggage area at the end of each train
car. After the bombings, SNCF blocked off these luggage areas and
instituted a new policy that carry-on luggage had to fit around and over
each passenger's seat. I personally verified this policy change via e-mail
with SNCF in mid-April since their passenger guide had not been updated to
reflect it. I don't know if that policy will still be in place in
September. You will want to check with them sometime before your trip to
see if they have changed their restrictions.



  #3  
Old June 11th 04, 05:51 PM
Mike Jacoubowsky
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Default Provence this September

This year my wife & I will be flying from Milwaukee to Paris (CDG
airport), KLM
on Sept 5, 2004.


Direct flights from MKE to CDG? I'm impressed! :) (My assumption is that
you'll fly MKE to Detroit to CDG).

I will have just turned 60 and I hear that I might be eligible for special
discounted train fare. We are interested in suggestions for this trip from
those of you in the know. Any info will be appreciated.


As Robert pointed out, the info is on the SNCF website, and there's an
English-language option.

If you know, when and where should we get our train tickets?
Do you know of reasonably priced and located Paris lodging?
Where can we get bike boxes for our return flight?


Ah, now there's the rub. In the US, you're *supposed* to buy tickets
through their high-priced subsidiary, RailEurope.com. However, tickets
direct from SNCF are far cheaper. You can order the tickets on-line and pay
for them, but have them held at the station for pickup. This option assumes
you're French (if you try to give it your address, there's no option for the
US... tons of other countries, but not the US), but there's nothing that
requires you to be, nor have I heard of any difficulties doing so.

If you were doing a lot of rail journeys, it would make sense to look into a
RailPass (which you would actually buy from RailEurope). But if you only
trip is to Avignon, then a single roundtrip ticket makes sense.

Please note also that a "ticket" and a "reservation" are too entirely
different things. The TGV requires both.

Please also note Robert's info on the bikes... since the Madrid bombing,
that's a real issue. There may be an option to carry the bike as freight in
a different car.

--Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles
www.ChainReactionBicycles.com


  #4  
Old June 11th 04, 06:58 PM
Tim McNamara
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Default Provence this September

(GLH1013) writes:

We plan to take the high speed train direct from CDG to Avignon.


You will want to check to see if you can still takes bike on TGVs.
There have been some policy changes due to security in the past
year. In 2002, I had no problem with my bike in a bag from Paris to
Grenoble; it was a carry-on and put in the luggage rack. In 2003, I
was able to just put my naked bike into a small storage area from
Guingamp to Paris- but that was during Paris-Brest-Paris and the
French may just have been being accommodating.

If you know, when and where should we get our train tickets?


IME get them before you leave home, and check into a Eurail pass (IIRC
www.eurail.com and I'm sure I've got that wrong, but someone can
correct me). You can get better fares buying your ticket this way
than buying in France, IME. Buy a museum pass, too, if you're going
to go sightseeing in Paris (IME do not miss Saint-Chappelle).

Rick Steves gives me the creeps for some reason, but his book on Paris
is full of very good information. www.ricksteves.com

Do you know of reasonably priced and located Paris lodging?


I found 2 star hotels very reliable, reasonably priced and they always
had English-speaking desk staff. There are lots of ways to get hotel
rooms, I found the various Internet sites helpful. I stayed at the
Hotel Castex in the Marais; it was perfectly adequate and cheap. It
has upgraded to a 3 star hotel now, with concommittant price
increases. www.hotelcastex.com It's also near the Gare de Lyon, if
that's your terminus (you might actually depart for Avignon from Gare
Montparnasse).

Where can we get bike boxes for our return flight?


Keep the ones you take over for the return flight, if you can find
somewhere to store them in Avignon or at your "home base."
  #5  
Old June 11th 04, 08:56 PM
Mathieu Peyréga
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Default Provence this September

Hello,

here is some French Guy advice/experience about bike+train...

first, you can check the french
http://www.fubicy.org/train/index.html#veloentier
page made by a french association : the Federation of Users of BICYcles
which gave a very bad grade to SNCF for ther bike service...

SNCF which is the national company for railway transportation have a
very bad reputation about their capability to transport bikes... and
they deserve it...

In TGV-Méditerranée (high speed trains in south of France) you have a
special part in two of the train-cars. In those, you can hang your bike
without any protection.
You have to pay a small fee : 10 euro and reserve this service as their
is only a few available spots in each train (4 to 6 bikes).
However, last time i used it, the web system did not allow to specify
and pay for this option... thus making the service free (i never paid
for it)!
Especially if you don't speak french, the 100% probability that you'll
have a non or bad english speaking control agent will let you free of
charge, just be kind with him and tell that in your contry it's free
(c'esy gratuit dans mon pays) (even if it's not...)
You could still buy your ticket at the gare de Lyon Station once in
Paris and be sure to get a place for your bike. But you are travelling
outside the rush period so you should have no availability issue.

The problem is then that you usually like to have a seat in the same car
than the one where youre bike is... which you cannot choose... One plan
if you buy your ticket at the station is to buy tickets until you got a
winning one in car 7 or 17 which if i remeber well are the car with the
bike spots... Then get the other one refurbished... You'll probably get
the sell-agent angry but it is one of them who told me to do so once !

Last chance is that you can alway and for free have your bike on the
train if you put it in a protective luggage whose dimension should not
exceed 120 cm x 90 cm

It's true that after Madrid bombing, some problem with luggage
compartment occured but there is an official letter from SNCF head
confirming that bikes are allowed in trains... and that stations should
not refuse to sell this service.

From CDG airport to Gare de Lyon station, i recommand you the RER B
(Paris by train signs at the airport) up to chatelet les halles stations
and then line RER A up to gare de lyon station. Bikes are allowed in the
RER trains for free.

Please avoid the separate delivery of your bike to your final
destination... that should just be another source of potential issues !
(especially with SERNAM which is the company which have deals with SNCF)

Anyway, i'm sure you'll manage to carry your bike with you, that you'll
hate SNCF after that, but that you'll enjoy your trip in Provence very
much despite this previsible "bad start" !

Concerning your stay in Paris, there are a few camp site very close to Paris
(there is a nice one in the town where i live : Maisons-Laffite, which i
25 minutes from the "hearth center of Paris" by the RER A train where
you'll be able to get with your bike if you'd like to experience biking
in Paris).

If you have some more precise questions, i can try and answer them.

Regards,

Mathieu

  #6  
Old June 12th 04, 02:06 PM
GLH1013
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Default Provence this September

Thanks all for the info.
Now I am really confused. It is a good thing I have 3 months to figure this
out. Last year we put our bike boxes on the boat at the Venice airport at went
to the Lido no problem. For the next 2 weeks we got on ferrys and trains
without any concerns (we did have to pay minimum bike fees on some occassions).

Now we are talking about reservations for us and for our bikes. What happens if
we go to the train station at CDG Airport and say we want to catch the next
train to Avignon and we want to take our bikes with us, and that we have no
reservations and want to make them at that time and catch the next train? And
we say this in English? We could still have them in the boxes from the plane or
unpacked.
Is this doable?
Gary
  #7  
Old June 12th 04, 05:02 PM
Mathieu Peyréga
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Default Provence this September

Thanks all for the info.
Now I am really confused.


I hope my message didn't "frightened" you ! It was at least not the
intention, France is still a civilized country !

It is a good thing I have 3 months to figure this
out. Last year we put our bike boxes on the boat at the Venice airport at went
to the Lido no problem. For the next 2 weeks we got on ferrys and trains
without any concerns (we did have to pay minimum bike fees on some occassions).

Now we are talking about reservations for us and for our bikes.


On the TGV (high speed train) you always have to make a reservation, but
in fact, it's included with the ticket than assign you a precise seat
when you buy it, whereas in other trains ("slow" ones) you can
optionnaly buy this seat assignment or just hope to find an empty
seat... So if you travel with TGV, once you have your ticket, you'll
have your seat and everything will be fine... even more if you can
manage to get the bike option what you can't do on the internet...

What happens if we go to the train station at CDG Airport and say we

want to catch the next
train to Avignon and we want to take our bikes with us, and that we have no
reservations and want to make them at that time and catch the next train?


as i explained, reservation means that you have a seat assignment.
Concerning the bikes, you should be able to pay for this service if you
buy your ticket directly at the station. In the previous message, i
forgot that you can catch the TGV train directly at the airport
(terminal 2) which will be more convenient for you than going to gare de
lyon...

And we say this in English?


If you buy your tickets at the airport, the commercial agents will speak
english !

We could still have them in the boxes from the plane or
unpacked.
Is this doable?


If your boxes are less than 120 cm * 90 cm ( 1 in = 2.54 cm )then there
can't be any problem, it's considered and allowed as any other luggage...
But the problem should occur when you will come back : you won't have
your boxes anymore i guess ?

Gary


  #8  
Old June 12th 04, 05:45 PM
Jacques Moser
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Default Provence this September

On Sat, 12 Jun 2004 13:06:26 +0000, GLH1013 wrote:


Now we are talking about reservations for us and for our bikes. What
happens if we go to the train station at CDG Airport and say we want to
catch the next train to Avignon and we want to take our bikes with us, and
that we have no reservations and want to make them at that time and catch
the next train? And we say this in English? We could still have them in
the boxes from the plane or unpacked.
Is this doable?
Gary


If you can't find a way to put your bikes in the TGV, there is still the
option of using regional trains (TER). Many or most TER have compartments
where you can load your bike for free without the need for packing it.
The drawback is double:
- these trains are much slower as they usually stop everywhere, and you
will have to change train several times. But it is probably possible, by
leaving Paris early in the morning, to get to Avignon on the same day.
- these trains are organized by region. Some regions will have as a rule
that all TERs accept bikes; other will allow bikes on specific trains. All
the information is in principle available from the SNCF web site (look at
regional timetables), but the format is not the same for all regions.

Despite these problems, I have been able to bring my loaded bike from
Marseille back to Geneva using TERs without specific bike-related problems
(the more general problem was that SNCF was on strike that week-end...).

If you choose to use the TER option and you have trouble decoding the
timetables in French, send me an e-mail with your planned dates and I will
try to spend half an hour to figure out a schedule for you.

Jacques
  #9  
Old June 13th 04, 03:25 PM
JG
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Default Provence this September

Hello

I will be going next month on TGV (Paris-St. Jean de Luz and then
Collioure-Paris)

I do have a bike bag 120 x 90 cm but I know the large luggage racks at the
end of carriages (which is what I used last two years) are now sealed off
according to SNCF.
Where can one put the disassembled bike on the TGV carriage?



If your boxes are less than 120 cm * 90 cm ( 1 in = 2.54 cm )then there
can't be any problem, it's considered and allowed as any other luggage...
But the problem should occur when you will come back : you won't have
your boxes anymore i guess ?

Gary




  #10  
Old June 13th 04, 04:28 PM
Mathieu Peyréga
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Default Provence this September

Hello

I will be going next month on TGV (Paris-St. Jean de Luz and then
Collioure-Paris)

I do have a bike bag 120 x 90 cm but I know the large luggage racks at the
end of carriages (which is what I used last two years) are now sealed off
according to SNCF.
Where can one put the disassembled bike on the TGV carriage?


I'm not sure wether the luggage racks are still closed but you may be
right...
Anyway, SNCF did not changed the rules and bikes are still allowed...
I suggest you should try to arrive early at the station (no more than 20
minutes early : trains arrive in the terminal-stations 20 minutes before
the time to leave). Getting there early will let you have your
dissassembled bike in the luggage compartment above your seat. They are
quite big and I know it can be done. The last solution is just to let it
in the lobby next to your seat and to move it when it is an issue (child
seats and so on...)

The other issue is : what do you do with your bag then ? Do you carry it
all over your trip ?

 




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