Subject: French Trains &Bikes
Hello ziners,

We just returned from our short excursion to Italy &France. We took our road bikes along to see some countryside during the trip and intended to use eurail for longer distances. Rome, Florence, the Chianti region and Lucca in Italy were fantastic on bikes. We really had problems with our bikes once we got on the trains in France. In fact, as soon as we hit the French border on a night train enroute to Nice, the conductor had a problem with our bikes in the couchette. Fortunately for us that was a very short ride and we got off with no more hassles. Even though our bikes were packed , meaning both wheels were removed and tied to the frame making the bikes about the size of large carry on bag, the French conductors had major problems with them. We had to go through two trains to get from Nice to Cannes, only being allowed to take them on the regional. We were then removed from the TGV while trying to get to Paris from San Rafael. After being allowed on an intermediate train from San Raphael to Toulon we were removed from one night train to Paris then had to literally fight the conductor on the last night train from Toulon to Paris. First he insisted we get off, then when we refused he said we would have to pay 180ff per bike to take them. We agreed to this extortion after considerable argument and an attempt by the conductor to literally throw one of the bikes off the train. He then provided us a locked baggage car to stow the bikes (completely empty), refused us a couchette and (of course) never collected the storage fee. This is just a warning to others who might consider biking and eurailing in France. If you are biking only, no problem but if you are using the rail system be prepared well in advance!

SjS St. Louis Mo. area