Shipping bikes to or from France

If you need to ship a bike to or from France (or around France), here are a few options.

Bike sign by  Michael Nukular

What's the best way to get your bike to France? Photo: Michael Nukular

This page relates to shipping bikes to or from France – to send luggage or bike boxes within France, see this page.

When looking to ship your bike or your bike box, it's worth weighing up prices and options as there are many companies out there these days. Allow plenty of time to work out your shipping options.

A warning in advance - shipping across borders is expensive and it almost always works out cheaper to take the bike on a plane, ferry or train with you if you can. Beware though that Eurostar's rules for bikes seem to constantly change and can require bikes to be boxed for some destinations. 

Another option is to hire a bike.

The following information is provided as guidance only. You should do your research, ask all relevant questions of the shipper, ensure your bike is properly insured, and be familiar with the necessary processes should something go wrong (lost, damaged bikes etc). You should also ensure your bike is properly boxed/bagged and insulated.

Where to get a bike box or bag in France

This is one of the most common questions I get asked.

Most couriers and airlines will only accept bikes properly boxed or bagged. It's possible to order a bag or box online and have it delivered to your last hotel in France if you are on a one-way ride.  

Always check bike box/bag dimensions before buying online and ensure you also order plenty of insulation (or have enough clothes in your panniers for packing). Don't forget heavy-duty packing tape.

  • Decathlon in France *sometimes* sells various bike bags and boxes, though their quality and degree of protection can vary – see here for what's in stock. Again you can order for delivery to a hotel or order online for pickup at a store. Decathlon stores also often have leftover bike cardboard boxes that they are happy to give away for repurposing/recycling. Always call ahead to check. Note some – but not all – Decathlon stores open on Sundays.
  • Cardboard boxes can be bought online from Amazon France – see here for options for delivery to a French address/hotel
  • The Air France counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport usually has cardboard bike boxes. You should always phone ahead to check/reserve. They are also available via Air France (and other airlines) at other airports – it's best to just phone your airline's desk at the relevant airport in advance. 
  • Local bike shops usually have spare cardboard boxes. Over the years readers have also reported using furniture shops as their boxes are always large. Obviously, this option involves more hassle (and luck). Don't forget to plan ahead to buy tape/padding.

Where are you shipping to/from? 

All countries: It's worth pricing BikeFlights as they are specialists in this field. They are a US-based company so all prices are in US dollars but their website is easy to navigate. As with all destinations, sometimes the price is competitive/affordable and sometimes it's not.

UK-France: Brexit has made UK-France/France-UK more difficult and expensive, but it is still possible. I advise using an established operator and ensuring all customs paperwork is checked and double-checked to avoid extra costs. We have received good reports about Send My Bag (more info below). There are various 'man in van' services operating in France. Usually, they go between Spain/France/Portugal and the UK. You may get lucky if you need a one-way bike (or bike box) transfer along a particular French route and the dates match. The best Facebook group I've found is this one. Make sure you ask about paperwork and any Brexit paperwork.

EU-France: If coming into France (so Spain-France, Netherlands-France, etc) it will almost always be cheaper and easier to arrange it with a courier in the country of origin. See also Send My Bag (more info below).

France-EU: It sounds obvious, but try pricing the post office (La Poste), especially if you speak French. They should be able to arrange your shipment through their Chronopost service. If you speak/read French, you can also try doing this online hereYour last hotel or B&B may also be able to assist. See also Send My Bag (more info below). 

Outside Europe: Regardless of the direction, for US/Canada-France, Australia/NZ/SA-France etc it is usually always cheaper to take your bike as luggage via your airline if at all possible. Always check with your airline before wasting time on couriers unless, of course, you are not travelling with the bike. If you do need to use a courier, it will almost always be cheaper to arrange it in the 'sending' country (i.e arrange with a US, not French, courier if going US-France). If you are shipping to France, make sure the B&B/hotel or wherever you're shipping to in France is expecting the delivery in case the bike makes it there before you do – the courier will likely need the delivery to be signed for. For France-rest of world shipping, try BikeFlights (as described above) and also Send My Bag (more info below).  

Who can ship your bike? 

Send My Bag arranges to send bikes between France and destinations worldwide. They can also do EU-EU destinations, which is handy for one-way rides - say if you want to hire a bike in France and ship it back from the Netherlands or Germany. Australia and South Africa – traditionally tricky destinations with biosecurity measures – are also possible. They also ship from one French destination to another, though this can be expensive. Bikes will need to be securely boxed or bagged. They aren't always cheapest but reports suggest they are generally reliable and contactable.

BikeFlights specialise in sending bikes, as the name suggests. Not all bikes go by plane, though. While the company is US and they are mostly geared towards cyclists in the US, they can also arrange overland/van/courier shipping in Europe. See here for a list of countries they service. They may be able to ship electric bikes but it depends on the bike and destinations involved. See here for e-bike shipping guidance.

SHERPR works with a network of international shippers (in English) but they currently can't take bookings online (email me at lyn@freewheelingfrance.com for the latest direct contact). You can send your bikes from your club or home to anywhere in the world (including Australia and South Africa) and back again. It's cheaper UK-France or France-US as they have depots in the UK and the US. Note they do not ship soft-shell bags and they do not do EU-EU.

Shipping your bike or sending a bike by post

How do you get this to France? Photo: Thomas Guest

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