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.

  • Wiggle have a French warehouse and will deliver to a French address/your last hotel – see here for options.
  • 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.
  • 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? 

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 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.

SHERPR works with a network of international shippers (in English). 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. They also supply reinforced cardboard bike boxes and packing (delivered to you before you ship if in the UK) if you don't have your own bike box. Note they do not ship soft-shell bags. See here.    

Other options

Parcel Hero was originally recommended to us by cyclists, and we have also used it to ship (non-bikey) things to France. There's no dedicated bike option on the site – you box your bike up securely and ship it like you would any other package. Quotes are done by box size and weight, so if you have a heavier bike box rather than cardboard or soft cover, it will cost more. Don't forget to get insurance (either via the shipper or your own) as Parcel Hero uses a range of mainstream shippers – they are a broker, not an actual shipper.

Shipping your bike or sending a bike by post

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

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