London to Strasbourg-ish with bike

Ok, so in typical me-style, I'm making things a bit complicated. But hopefully you'll be able to help me make them simple again...

At the start of May I'm joining a friend who's cycling London to Istanbul; I plan to join her from 2nd - 7th May, which means I'll be meeting her somewhere around Metz, France, and leaving her somewhere between Strasbourg and Ulm, Germany.

I think the best thing to do is book a return ticket to Strasbourg and then catch a local train to/from wherever she has got to. (e.g. train from Strasbourg to Metz; cycle to somewhere between Strasbourg and Ulm; then catch a train from there back to Strasbourg).

So my questions to you are:

  1. Would buying tickets last minute on local French and German trains be ok?

  2. How easy is it to catch a train across the boarder from Germany to France?

  3. On local trains like that are you allowed to take bikes without booking it on in advance?

  4. Any other tips on this slightly hap-hazzard plan?!

Thank you!

Hermione

2 years ago
Hermione
11 1
1

Hi Hermione,

So first in answer to your questions:

  1. For regional trains, the price of a ticket doesn't generally go up so buying on the day gives you a little more flexibility. Regional networks are slower and more frequent and don't usually require seat reservations - a bit like the BR network in London... buying in advance doesn't save you any cash. However, if you want to take high-speed trains such as the French TGV or German InterCity Express then buying in advance will be a bit cheaper. Again it's like faster longer distance trains in the UK - if you were to go to Bath it would be a whole lot cheaper 3 months in advance than on the day.

  2. Crossing borders is no problem, there are plenty of international trains, but you will usually require a seat reservation as high speed trains are more likely to get booked out.

  3. It's hard to generalise, and better to look at specific trains. Although for the most part during off peak hours you can roll your bike on and off (again like BR here), it's more wise to take a bike bag. It's a small investment but it means you don't have to ever worry about booking your bike on to a train. However if you don't imagine you'll take your bike on the continent again, you can book a space on the Eurostar and then on the TGV. It'll be about £10 one way on the TGV and £30 one way for Eurostar. Of course a final option is to look into cycle hire in the region to which you're headed.

Since your trip is less than a month away, I would book tickets as soon as possible. I looked at a single London-Strasbourg and then a single from Ulm to London, but it seems like it would be cheaper to book London to Strasbourg return and then a separate ticket between Ulm and Strasbourg.

So you could do this:

London - Strasbourg Strasbourg to London

If you booked today, it would be about £169 return. About 6hrs journey time.

Between Strasbourg and Metz there's a regional train, you can book today but the price will be around £23 regardless. Between Ulm and Strasbourg, it's an ICE train and then a change to TGV. Usually booking in advance means cheaper fares, but it looks like with the time frame, whether you book now or later the price will be around £69.50 with a journey time of around 3.5hrs.

So I would book the London to Strasbourg legs as soon as possible. The other legs are up to you, since the price will remain about the same, it's just a matter of preference. I would also decide how to transport your bike so that you can make the necessary arrangements and not get caught out at the station!

2 years ago
Anila
286 2 6

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