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daviciodavicio Posts: 45
edited February 2012 in Tour & expedition
Looking at San Sebastian in late March early April.

I'm still unsure as to how to go about this, i.e. getting there (I do have a 2 seater sports car which apparently can hold 2 bicycles on the rear).

Has anyone done this part of the world and any recommendations?

Many thanks.


  • Have you checked out the law on carrying bikes on your car in Spain. I think you need to display a warning plate. Maybe other members can clarify.
    The more you spend - the faster you go - the less you see.
  • mrc1mrc1 Posts: 852
    Are you thinking of driving from the UK? If so that is going to be one loooooooong and expensive drive - especially if you are planning to take a bike rack! By the time you have added up the costs of ferry/chunnel, petrol, road tolls (about £50 each way) and time (you are looking at around 700 miles from Calais) you are probably much better off flying.

    I'm not sure on the current flight options into Northern Spain but one option would be to fly into Toulouse on Easyjet or BA and then drive across (it's around 200 miles). That would probably work out cheaper than driving and would reduce your journey time dramatically.

    The other thing to consider is the time of year. I'd leave it until as late as possible in your time frame if you are planning to head up into the mountains as that will maximise the chances of the snow having melted.

    Best of luck with planning the trip and feel free to PM me if you'd like any other advice.


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  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    On my last Pyrenean jaunt, I flew from my local airport (Stansted) and the only sensible option was Perpignon. I went in Sept but I'm not sure it would be so sensible in March.
  • From UK to San Sebastian fly to Biarritz, it is about 30 minutes drive or you can get a bus or train.
    Easyjet and Ryanair fly there from UK.
    San Sebastian is a beautiful city and the country around is great for cycling as long as you like hills.
    Between 2 and 7 April you can catch the pros in Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco. ... 1-stage-5/
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  • daviciodavicio Posts: 45
    Thank you everyone.

    Brittany Ferry to Santander is £611 for 2 persons.
    My car - although it does 20mpg still works out cheaper to travel the 2200km return trip to London. We would plan 1 night stay en-route in perhaps Tours/Bordeaux.

    I have driven to the Pyrenees (Odessa) last March for mountain climbing. But I wanted to cycle the mountains this time out after witnessing loads of cyclists on the Spanish side.

    But the Vehicle Plate on display concerns me!
    Can you get your bike over to Spain by plane easily? Both bikes are quite expensive - so am worried about chips to the frame or any bending of the wheels etc. Toulouse airport is one option, as to get to San Sebastian you have to go to Madrid first.

    Having seen the Pyrenees last March - the snow was very prominent 2000 metres upwards, but the roads were fine because of the dedicated snow ploughs. I'm not sure how hard I can ride from San Sebastian upwards - it's all new to me. I can do very steep climbs - but I don't know for how long. It will be a challenge :D

    So - if anyone knows about:
    - Licence plate in Spain
    - Other ways of getting there that is not dearer than £600 for 2 people
    - Any places to stay (villa or B&B?)

    It would be very helpful.

    Thank you all.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    The other alternative would be train to Paris and then sleeper train to Hendaye (or Irún) or other destinations in the French Pyrenees.
  • Oh goodness me:

    It is not possible. That train trip advised above I have looked into - it looks like a disaster journey. Might as well be a foot passenger on the Santander ferry.
    This is coming impossible and fast.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    davicio wrote:
    That train trip advised above I have looked into - it looks like a disaster journey. Might as well be a foot passenger on the Santander ferry.

    I did it a couple of years ago without any problem. Unfortunately, it looks like they've axed the sleeper service since then. What a pity.

  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Researching something else I found out that there are direct TGV services from Paris to Hendaye and Irún (probably the reason why the sleeper got axed).

    There's a train from Paris Montparnasse at 8ish in the morning and another at 14:29. It gets into St Jean de Luz just after 8 in the evening, Hendaye a few minutes later, and Irún a few minutes after that.

    No bike carriage facilities so you'd have to put the bikes in bags.
  • There are Train Hotels run by Elipsos from Paris to Madrid stopping at Vitoria and also Paris to Barcelona. Vitoria and Barcelona are the nearest points to the Pyrenees west or east using these services. Have a look at the website here.

    Bicycles can be taken on the train if the following requirements are met: the customer must have booked a whole cabin; maximum of two bicycles per cabin; maximum dimensions: 120x90 cm. Bicycles must be folded and packed in bags designed for the purpose, with the pedals removed and the handlebar turned through 90º.

    Elipsos run offers which can reduce the price by a third so it may help to contact their agents and discuss your requirements.

    Vitoria is connected to San Sebastian and Pamplona by a regular ALSA bus service which is cheap and also carries bikes for a small charge, except on international routes. Check out the national and regional routes. From Barcelona ALSA can get you into the Pyrenees at Seu d'Urgell.

    Take the train hotel to Barcelona, cycle along the Pyrenees from Seu d'Urgell to Pamplona or to San Sebastian and catch the train hotel back to Paris from Vitoria.
    The more you spend - the faster you go - the less you see.
  • dilemnadilemna Posts: 2,277
    I have taken the Eurostar to Paris then TGV down to Biarritz with bike which was a very comfortable and pleasant journey. You might also consider the European Bike Express, often over looked. I have never used it, but it is set up for cyclists and their bicycles. Just Google it. I have never heard anything bad about them so it must be ok.

    What "sports car" have you got :lol: ?
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
  • Do you want the car down there? If so then drive or ferry to Santander or Bilbao. Otherwise I've taken the train from Paris to Irun, it took 5 hours and was £50 in 1st! Left Paris in the morning and got to Spain early afternoon. We got my wife to drive us to the TGV station in Calais via the tunnel (she wanted to go shopping in France) and then night stopped Paris.
    I took my front wheel off, laid it on the frame suitably padded, turned the handlebars round and under the crossbar and wrapped the whole lot up with backed bubblewrap. I then made a shoulder strap out of duct tape. This is then officially a bag, there is plenty of room on the train.
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    OK I know I'm a sad trainspotter, and I expect the original poster has probably long since given up on the idea, but for the benefit of anyone else thinking of making the journey...

    It looks like the sleeper service from Paris to Hendaye and Irún does still exist. I also came across a pdf of the timetable for services going to Hendaye and Irún - and also Pau and Tarbes etc.This covers both daytime and sleeper services and it looks like it could be extremely useful (although there are a thicket of footnotes in French). It shows that the majority of trains have bike carriage facilities.

    It also looks like you can avoid changing in central Paris: there is the possibility of taking a train from Marne-La-Vallée (which is also served by Eurostar) - although the train gets into Hendaye fairly late in the evening.

    And for good measure information on services to Toulouse and Carcassone etc there are a number trains (including a sleeper) with bike carriage facilities (no pdf timetable though).

    I've uploaded the network maps for the SNCF Intercités daytime and nighttime services.

    If you want the full-size versions they are here: ... om_tdn.gif

    and here: ... om_tdj.gif
  • Choo Chooo :D
  • rc856rc856 Posts: 1,139
    Wow...some drive and eating into your cycling time.

    Unless you're desperate to go to San Sebastian, I would just fly straight to Lourdes and stay with Paddy and Olive at and enjoy all the great climbs from there, if open. :D

    Not a fan of travelling, just want to get there as quickly as possible! Lucky you anyway.
    Went to the Pyrenees for the first time in June last year and loved it. Would love to go back.

    You're right, the climbs are long but I just had a 34/29 gear ratio and 'enjoyed' it :?

    Used a padded bike bag with pipe lagging on the plane and the bike (as it has a couple of other times) survived fine.
  • Another option to consider. Fly to Pau, cycle into the centre, take the train towards Orloron but get off at Buzy. Cycle to Laruns and then up to the Col du Portalet - my favourite of all the Cols I've climbed. ... in-part-1/
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