From London St Pancras you can take your bike to Paris and Brussels by Eurostar. Other destinations are to be added in the next couple of years.
Eurostar changed its conditions of carriage for cycles on 1st November 2015.
Bikes can now have their handlebars turned round and pedals removed so they can go in a provided box. Non-dismantled bikes are also carried.
Eurostar carries bikes for £30 each – first book your train, then you ring EuroDespatch on +44 (0) 844 822 5822 and book the bikes on (I think you can book Paris – London at the London office, give them a ring to check before you book the train. Be patient, it takes them ages to answer the phone!) It actually works really well – just turn up at the Eurostar office with your bit of paper, hand the bikes over and you won’t see them until you get back to London and collect them.
Although they say stuff about the bike not necessarily travelling on the same train as you, if you hand in the bike well in advance (what we did was drop it off the night before we were travelling, so we didn’t have to worry about them and could go off and enjoy ourselves bike-free) it will probably get to London before you. Although you can pay an extra fiver and they guarantee the bike will be on your train, it’s not worth it UNLESS you have a tight connection to make in Paris.
The baggage consigne office at Paris Gare du Nord is at the northern end of the western side of the station. At St. Pancras it’s also at the northern end, head for the coach park.
You can’t take checked bikes on the Eurostar direct services to Marseille via Avignon unfortunately. You can take bikes on some of the direct services to Amsterdam.
There are three main types of train in France:
TGV – bikes carried on some of ’em but must be booked (it seems the older single deck TGV’s carry bikes but not the newer Duplex : Routes that we have taken bikes on are Paris – Bordeaux & Paris – Grenoble.
Inter-cite – Bikes carried, should be booked (possible to get away without booking, a bit like UK trains)
TER – regional trains, bikes carried, no need to book.
There are also RER trains that start in the outer suburbs of Paris, traverse the city centre underground and pop out on the other side. You can take bikes on these but there are many restrictions, the trains can be very crowded and access in the city centre can be very difficult. So basically, I wouldn’t use them unless I was travelling from one side of the outer suburbs to the other, at the weekend – a possibility if you were on a long distance trip and wanted to get through Paris without stopping I suppose. If cycling into Paris from the North I would head for the canal at Bobigny I think.
RailEurope can do the booking for you on 0844 848 4078, or you can book bikes online on thetrainline.eu – If bike reservations are available they will come up in the Options section. Note that bike reservations are not available if you book 1st Class tickets – which gives you a little clue about what SNCF management really thinks about cyclists.
In Belgium, bikes are carried on local trains for a small charge.
The Man in Seat 61 is the resource for all things train-related in Europe and beyond.