September 14, 2013 at 10:54  •  Posted in Advice, Inspiration Abroad by  •  2 Comments

We all love travelling 🙂 When you come to a new city, everything seems so interesting! You look on the map you’ve just got in the local Info Centre, and even don’t know where to go first. You start walking from one historical place to another, desperately trying to visit everything before you leave this beautiful place. By the end of the day you already can’t move and the only thought is to get to your hotel and fall into bed. By the end of the weekend – don’t even ask… But wouldn’t it be better if you could visit all the places of your interest without rushing and being tired at the end? Plus, save money on local transport. Plus, get some exercise. How? Take your bike with you!

In this article I’ll tell you about sight-seeing by bike using the example of my one-day trip to Reims from Luxembourg: how to organize your journey, how to travel by train with your bike and some tips from the category “Don’t try this at home” 🙂 I hope it will be useful for those who are new to urban cycling and don’t have experience in travelling with their bike.

Planning the route

I’ve chosen my destination: Reims.

How to get there? The easiest way – TGV. It’s fast, but rather expensive, especially for spontaneous trips (it can be from €40 to €100 for one way, depending on how soon you’d like to go). Plus one inconvenience: you have to buy a bike ticket (€10) at the Gare Central.

Another option is to take a French regional train from across the border (in Longwy, Thionville or Apach). On horaires.tv you can check the timetable and find the best connection. It will be cheaper: for a one-way ticket from Longwy to Reims I paid €29.30. Plus, you don’t need a bike ticket: in France, the same as in Luxembourg, taking the train with a bike is free.

How to get your ticket? Well… either in France or at the French ticket machine at Luxembourg Gare Central. It’s tricky, it doesn’t work well some times (see what happened when I tried to use it :)). The best option is to arrive at the French train station in advance and buy a ticket in the ticket office. The price will be the same – on the day of departure only the TGV costs more. If the office is closed, you can also buy your ticket on the train. I saw a man buy a ticket from the conductor from Longwy-Sedan for €15.

On gares-en-mouvement.com you can choose a French railway station and check various info, e.g. office opening hours, departure/arrival timetable, etc.

Great! Now, how to get to France? Check Mobiliteit.lu.

Longwy: there’s a direct train from Lux-city which costs about €1.50 if you buy a ticket at Gare Central. Also, bus 399 goes there from Rodange (don’t know how bike-friendly is it). Lastly, it’s only 8km between the railway stations in Rodange and Longwy, 40min of cycling.
Apach: it’s located near Schengen – just cross the river, 1km more and you’re at the station in Apach 🙂

*On the eve of departure check the timetable of railway works, your bike lights and the weather forecast* Otherwise…

***************Sept 8, 2013***************

I woke up early in the morning, planning to take a train at 8:22 to Rodange (on the French border). It was raining like hell. Hm… well, usually I don’t melt in water 🙂 I put on my rain coat (a €2 one, from HEMA) and left home.

At Gare Central I couldn’t find my train. A woman in the office told me “today is a special weekend when they are repairing the railways, so the train will leave 30 minutes late”. ###!!! I had wanted to take a bus from the border to Longwy, and now I was going to miss it!

I arrived in Rodange 50 minutes before the departure of my train from Longwy. The bus had already left of course. The only option: to cycle 8 km as fast as possible. It was a real race and my personal record – I managed to get to the Longwy railway station 10 min before my train’s departure… Anyway, I made it onto the train 🙂

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When you arrive in the city

First of all, you need a map. Usually you can get one from the Info Centre at the railway station. If you don’t have a return ticket, it’s better to buy it right after arrival. Now you can start! Riding your bike, you move through the city pretty fast, so don’t rush – you’ll have enough time to visit everything. Just cycle from one place to another and enjoy!

Where can you ride? If there’s a bike lane – take it. If not – on the right side of the road, it’s allowed. Don’t forget to indicate with your hand when you’re turning!

Where to park your bike once you’ve found a place you’d like to visit? If there’s no bike parking – wherever! As long as your bicycle leaves enough space for pedestrians to pass. It can be a fence or a streetlight post.

*Don’t forget to lock your bike. You can buy a bike lock in any big supermarket, like Auchan or Cora.

 ***************Sept 8, 2013***************

In 2.5 hours I was in front of the Gare de Reims with a tourist map. I quickly decided what I wanted to visit and started cycling. At first, I was just riding on random streets, enjoying the atmosphere of the city. The architecture is beautiful!


The main place to visit in Reims is its Cathedral. I locked my bike to a light post and went inside:

After that I went to the pedestrian area of the city centre. There you can also ride a bike, so it took me only a couple of minutes to find a place for lunch 🙂

That’s how I spent 6 hours in Reims – cycling around and visiting different historical places. At 20:00 I took the train back to Longwy.

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On the way back

Make sure that you have a timetable of the trains and buses. If you’re planning to cross the border by bike, keep in mind the time of sunset. It’s better to have lights and reflective stuff on your bike and clothes – it will make you more visible on the road in the dusk. And a helmet! It’s not obligatory, but highly recommended.

 ***************Sept 8, 2013***************

On the train, 20 min before Longwy, I suddenly recalled that my front light wasn’t attached properly. Just in time, as it was 22h, and outside it was already night. I was planning to cycle 8km to Rodange, so I needed it!!! The only solution I came up with was this: a string from my rain-coat:

Thank goodness, the fix worked! Always check your equipment before the trip! Really…

Again racing, this time at night… It took me less than 40 min to get to the Grand Duchy. I even managed to catch the train half an hour earlier than I planned 🙂

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To sum up

Perhaps, my travelling style seems a bit weird to you. Yes, I’m crazy, I can’t live without adventures. But in fact, everything depends on you: if you prefer more relaxing trips, here’s a check-list:

– check the timetable of trains and buses in advance
– check the schedule of repair work on the railway
– check your equipment (bike lights and bike)
– take a helmet and reflective elements for clothes
– Google some info on the places you’d like to visit
– try to come back before the sunset
– don’t repeat my mistakes!!!

That’s it. As you can see, there’s nothing difficult in taking a bike on your trip. Just try it!
Once you try bike sightseeing, you’ll never want to do it by foot again! Good luck on the road;)

2 Comments

  1. Ibimbo / September 29, 2013 at 22:05 / Reply

    That was a good adventure!
    I had a look but see no direct trains from longwy other than at 5:30 in the morning…
    I have also covered quite a lot of ground by train and bike from Luxembourg, for beginners i would recommend the Mosel area from Luxembourg as regional trains are bike friendly and complemented over the weekend by bike-buses that allow to extend the range to less inhabited areas with amazing bike paths.

  2. Tatiana-san / September 30, 2013 at 20:26 / Reply

    There are more trains, it depends on the day of the week.
    On Sunday, for example, there is a train Longwy-Reims at 10.something
    – the one I took.
    The Mosel area is nice. I like the cycling path along the river, up to Waasserbillig.

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