Forum home Road cycling forum Tours, routes, audaxes & organised rides Tour & expedition

Best way to get to alps?

ollychristianollychristian Posts: 45
edited February 2013 in Tour & expedition
Was planning on driving camper to alps in summer with a friend. Estimated travel costs at about £600 including tolls.
Mate can't make it anymore so I'm looking at alternatives for getting there.
Planning to ate touring bike and camping kit
Easyjet flights with bike return work out at £160. My concern is packaging the bike up for the return journey, anybody know if there is anywhere to get cardboard boxes near geneva airport?
Or I was looking at train from st panc to geneva. Don't seem to be able to find any times for July yet. It says about baggage arriving within 24 hours of you? Does it go on a different train?

Any suggestions? My priority is bike safety and cost lees than £300 return
Cheers

Posts

  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    Your best bet with a bike box in Geneva is to make contact with a LBS in Geneva before you travel and see if they will store your box for you. If you buy a few bits and bobs (water bottles etc.) they may not even ask for payment for the storage.

    http://goo.gl/maps/kkEVU
  • durhamwaspdurhamwasp Posts: 1,238
    Massive shame your mate can't make it, for sure your cheapest bet was your original one in the camper van, you could even do a fair bit of free camping in it too, as they aren't really any problems with parking your van up for a nights sleep in France (can't stay in same spot 2 nights in row). But, i guess you knew that.

    What will your camping costs be? Have you looked at taking roads off the motorway to get down to the Alps? Of course it will add some diesel costs but save you tolls. Across Belgium and down Switzerland is one option i know a couple of people have taken, but, really needs working out.

    Easyjet does seem the best bet, how about using the storage in Geneva airport to keep a bike box in for the length of your stay? Or even call in at a bike shop on way back to airport and buy something from them and ask them for a box, could well work.

    How about simply hiring a bike in the Alps? Its not that expensive from what i remember.
    http://www.snookcycling.wordpress.com - Reports on Cingles du Mont Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez, Galibier, Izoard, Tourmalet, Paris-Roubaix Sportive & Tour of Flanders Sportive, Amstel Gold Xperience, Vosges, C2C, WOTR routes....
  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    As DW said, you can avoid tolls in France. When I drive back to the UK I go Luzern - Basel - Strasbourg - Metz (A4 toll road) Luxembourg (4 hours, pee stop and petrol - they almost give fuel away in Luxembourg). Then Namur, Brussels - Gent - Dunkirk - Calais (another 4 hours). It's less than 60 miles longer than the direct route but saves a fortune in tolls. You can avoid the A4 too which I have done, but it adds about an hour to the journey if the roads are clear, more if you get caught in traffic. However, if you drive through Switzerland on the Autobahn or Autostrasse (both have green road signs) then there's a CHF 40 (£27) vignette that you need to buy. Also, driving through Strasbourg puts you a long way from the French Alps. You could always have a crack at the Swiss Alps but the costs in Switzerland for food and camping will be higher.
  • durhamwaspdurhamwasp Posts: 1,238
    yeah, a quick look on Google has the quickest ways to Bourg from Calais as:
    Toll Roads - 915km, 8h13
    Non Toll - 928km, 12h47

    Ive only ever driven the Toll Road way (and in a camper) and its a good 10hrs drive, with stops on top. Suppose you could take the non-toll road and do a over night stop over. Check out http://www.campingcar-infos.com/index1.htmfor free places to kip!
    http://www.snookcycling.wordpress.com - Reports on Cingles du Mont Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez, Galibier, Izoard, Tourmalet, Paris-Roubaix Sportive & Tour of Flanders Sportive, Amstel Gold Xperience, Vosges, C2C, WOTR routes....
  • I'm travelling down in July albeit just for 3 nights and we are taking Eurostar/TGV to Grenoble with bikes in bike bags as that way we're not restricted on which trains to get. works out at about £150 rtn. Takes about 6 hours. You can book EuroStar 4 months in advance of travel and TGV 3 months in advance. booking separately works out cheaper. Found a hotel in Grenoble - Hotel Galia that had a deal on where book 2 nights get third free, works out between 5 at £50 for the 3 nights and they're happy for us to store our bikes in our rooms.....useful website is www.grenoblecycling.com
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    TGV Lyris operate some train services with bike carriage facilities from Paris to Geneva. This might be your best bet.

    Eurostar will carry undismantled bikes (for £30 each way). However they have introduced new restrictions on the sizes of bags you can take on the trains which mean that it could be much more difficult to take a bike in a bag. Officially you can now only take a folding Brompton-type bike on the train. However, you could still take them (ie bikes in bags) as registered baggage.

    The Eurostar registered baggage services: Eurostar say they will put your bag on the next available train and guarantee that it will arrive within 24 hours - this costs £25. Given that their bike carriage services costs £30 and guarantees that your bike will travel on the same time this looks like the best option if you can find an onward train service with bike carriage facilities.

    If you have to put your bike in a bag, I would have thought that if you drop off your bike-in-a-bag in plenty of time, there's a good chance it will arrive on the same train. (Unless of course it's a busy service with lots of bikers or cellists or whatever). But as its not guaranteed this is a bit of a gamble - especially if say you are travelling on a Saturday morning in July.

    I think there is a similar service for French trains but I'm afraid I don't know the chapter-and-verse.

    If you can be more flexible about where you go, there are DeutscheBahn (German Railways) sleeper services from Paris and Amsterdam to Munich which could be a better option for the Austrian or Italian Alps/Dolomites.
  • Bike express, slightly longer and possibly dearer than flying but no limit on luggage and you don't need to pack/ unpack your bike.

    Or find someone else to join you in the campervan, or was it your mates?
  • thanks for all the advise guys.
    got a train back from paris couple of years ago and just made a flimsy bag to fit de-wheeled bike in.
    ill have a look at train costs again, but will probably go with the flights to geneva.
    friend has a bike bag so will borrow that. going to email bike shops in geneva and ask if they will store it for...... 30chf sound reasonable?
    otherwise might just go for the storage at the airport, complete rip off, but at least i will be able to relax on my trip.
    cheers
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    got a train back from paris couple of years ago and just made a flimsy bag to fit de-wheeled bike in.

    Sadly, they've changed the rules :(
  • schweizschweiz Posts: 1,644
    thanks for all the advise guys.
    got a train back from paris couple of years ago and just made a flimsy bag to fit de-wheeled bike in.
    ill have a look at train costs again, but will probably go with the flights to geneva.
    friend has a bike bag so will borrow that. going to email bike shops in geneva and ask if they will store it for...... 30chf sound reasonable?
    otherwise might just go for the storage at the airport, complete rip off, but at least i will be able to relax on my trip.
    cheers

    30 CHF / £20 is more than reasonable. Although don't jump in and offer money straight away. See if they offer to store it first. If you get there and buy something, they're more likely to offer it FOC. Give them a call, they'll probably speak some English. Just don't jump straight in with English. Open with something like "bonjour, je suis désolé, je ne parle pas français, parlez vous anglais s'il vous plaît?"*


    *I live in the German part of Switzerland, so I have no idea if that is gramatically correct but it seems to do the trick when in French speaking parts
Sign In or Register to comment.