If you can't get a French train to take the strain, then Flixbus is one option to get you and your bike where you need to be at an affordable price.
Travelling with a bike on public transport in France can be fairly easy. Once you get to grips with the online train booking system, taking a bike via the rail network is usually fast and fairly good value.
Sometimes, however, available train routes can be quite Paris-centric, so travelling across the country in an unusual direction can be more time consuming and costly. Some trains lines are also less bike-friendly than others – for example the TGVs from Paris to Strasbourg and Paris to Avignon do not take fully assembled bikes (more on bikes and trains here).
One other public transport method that you could consider is the bus. Recently, a number of readers have used Flixbus (official website here) to successfully travel across France. The service has a clear bike carriage policy, making it quick and easy to work out if this service is for you.
Who are they?
Flixbus is a European start-up bus service that was created in 2013. It uses technology such as an e-ticketing system, apps, free wifi on board, GPS live tracking and an automated 'delay management system' to to help plan and manage your journey.
Where do they go?
Coverage is actually pretty extensive and covers all of France, plus a range of other European destinations. They cover lots of French cities and towns, including many in the Pyrenees and Alps that trains do not venture to. On their website, if you select a departure city, the site automatically amends the list of possible destinations, so it is very easy to see if it meets your needs or not.
What about my bike?
When you select your trip you are asked how many adults and how many bikes are travelling after which you are informed if the bus for your journey has a bike rack or not. If it does you can book you bike on, if not then you can book it as special luggage as long as it conforms to the requirements, which at the time of writing are that it must be disassembled and stowed in an appropriate travel bag or case and no larger than 290cm. The maximum weight permitted is 25kg.
How do I book?
Visit the Flixbus website for more information. (You can change the language to English using the menu).
We have not used this service yet ourselves, but we would be very interested to hear of any journeys that you make on it.