What you need to know about taking a bike on trains to Calais, the Somme and other places in the Hauts-de-France region of France.
Hauts-de-France is a good region of France for any cyclist to know about – especially those coming from the UK. That's because it's home to Calais and Dunkirk and thus provides a gateway to the north of France through two key ferry ports, as well as via the Eurotunnel. It's also home to the Eurostar station at Lille.
But aside from being a practical point of entry, there is much to see and do in Hauts-de-France on two wheels.
Firstly, for cycling purists, the region is of course home to the wonderful Paris-Roubaix classic.
Then there is the war. The World War I Somme battlefields – easily accessible via the trains stations at Amiens and Arras – are here, as is Dunkirk (Dunkerque in French) and the famous evacuation beaches that played such a pivotal role in saving British forces in World War II and recalibrating Allied efforts in France. The Somme Valley bike route follows the river and takes in much of this history, plus see our overview of cycling the battlefields.
So how do you access all this with your bike on a train from the ferry port or from Paris? We're glad you asked.
Calais and Haut-de-France train map
You can click here or on the map for a higher quality downloadable PDF (large file - may take a few seconds).
The first thing you need to know is that TGV fast train services to Hauts-de-France don't all take bikes.
However, you can use most local TER trains with bikes – tickets and times can be searched on any local TER website.
There are a few exceptions only.
The official TER website clearly states (I have translated it into English):
Travel free of charge with your bicycle on TER and fast TER trains.
To travel with peace of mind, avoid rush hour and look out for the reserved spaces on the platform thanks to the pictograms near the access doors. On board high-speed trains on the Krono+ GV lines (K90+, K92+ and K94+), and on authorised TGVs running on certain lines in the region such as K43 (Arras-Valenciennes) and K52 (Arras-Dunkirk), bicycles must be dismantled and stored in a transport bag (130 x 90 cm maximum). Bicycles are not guaranteed to be carried on SNCF coaches (buses). Tricycles, three-wheelers, horse-drawn carriages, tandems and other large-volume equipment are not accepted on board.
So that means all trains in the region take fully assembled bikes EXCEPT: the Krono+ GV lines (K90+, K92+ and K94+) and TGVs on certain lines such as K43 (Arras-Valenciennes) and K52 (Arras-Dunkirk). Bikes need to be bagged on those routes. See the map above for these lines.
To get around on these lines, you should break your journey down into shorter, local hops. You should search TER legs separately on the TER website or via the SNCF booking system. It may just throw up the TGV/non-bike lines if you search, for example, Paris to Arras. Use the 'via' tool or just search each 'change' separately.
More general bike-train guidance for France here + links to train travel in other regions.
Accommodation, bikes hire and tours in the Somme and Hauts-de-France
If taking your own bike is just too much hassle, you can use our bespoke bike hire service to find bike hire in the region. Bike hire (especially road bikes) can be hard to find. Consider hiring in Paris if you are passing through and taking the bikes with you on the train.
You can find accommodation by searching here.
You can search self-guided and guided rides here. Let me know via here if you need help.