www AlpineRoads com Biking In The Alps

Getting There

Crossing the Channel
Let the train take the strain

How to get there

Firstly, if you want to go the scenic route to the Alps it always takes longer than you think, and wastes valuable time. Do that trip some other time. Not many of us like the everlasting long blast down the motorway, even at 140 mph plus. This however may be the necessary evil.
If you are coming from G.B like myself, there is an alternative to the Dover Calais/blast through France.
This is the Harwich to Hamburg overnight ferry, run by Scandinavian Seaways. The time I did it, this was worth it for the overnight party on board alone. You arrive refreshed in Hamburg at around 10 am.
The advantage of this route is that it places you at the centre of the Alps, instead of the better known French Alps. The German autobahns are often speed-limit free, and I personally feel more comfortable doing a high speed blast legally.

Getting across the channel

Stena P&O Ferrryport Online Ticket Sales, Timetables and Information P&O Stena main booking site with links to all of their websites. Routes include:
  • Hull to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge (overnight)
  • Harwich to Hook of Holland
  • Portsmouth to Le Havre & Cherbourg
  • Dover to Calais
Ferry information, timetables, reservations and ticket sales for travel between the UK and all European destinations. Additional links to hotel, car hire, train and cheap flight booking sites.
Scandinavian Seaways Harwich to Hamburg (overnight)
Newcastle to Amsterdam (overnight)
Seafrance Dover/Calais
Hoverspeed Dover/Calais
brittany.ferries a bit far too the left on the map, but worth considering
[link broken @ 2nd Nov 2000]
Eurotunnel Folkestone to Calais (about 60 quid each way)

Put the bike on the train

A possibly more attractive alternative than the blast down the autobahn may be to let the train take the strain. This may be especially true if you or your bike or license isn't up to the previously mentioned 140 mph blast.
We haven't had a chance to update this page for a while. In the meantime Martin Theodor Ludwig, a German chap has kindly sent us a link to his site: Autoreisezug which is regularly updated and has comprehensive information on all European cartrains. The link above connects to the address/contacts page of all providers, the homepage is here.
I'm afraid it's only available in German, but if you have trouble please contact either us or the author of that site. His English is good.
He has a map here with all stations and clicking on each station brings up a list of routes and timetables.

The French railway company SNCFin French (French Railways Ltd, 179 Piccadilly, London W1V OBA. Tel 0870-5848848 for general SNCF enquiries or 0870-2415415 for motorrail) offer to put your bike on the train from Paris Bercy to Lyon. This cuts out the main motorway blast. Unfortunately this train used to run up to the buffers at a certain montain called Mont Blanc, but no longer. I haven't used the train for nearly 10 years so I can't really recommend it. If anyone does try this route, I'd like to hear from you.
The future could be motorail running from London or Ashford to Southern France, but I don't think that's here yet. (Unless you know different)

Strangely enough none of the main motorail operators really want to give away any information on routes, unless you phone them up.

SNCF France motorail Notes on Motorail quoted from SNCF:
Information on the Motorail services of principal interest to passengers travelling from the UK and Ireland, including the relevant fares, is published by French Railways Ltd (London) in a brochure entitled "French Railways 1995 - The expressway into Europe".
Advance bookings, which are strongly recommended, should be made through your travel agent or motoring organization, or through
French Railways Ltd,
179 Piccadilly,
London W1V OBA,
Information on the Motorail services is contained in the "auto/train" brochure. This brochure is aimed primarily at the French market and contains fares which apply exclusively to bookings made through a railway station or travel agent in France.
When booking in France, together with your travel document you will be issued with a leaflet entitled "guide du voyage" containing practical information on your motorail journey. Advance bookings, which are strongly recommended, should be made through your travel agent or through French Railways in Germany (Französichen Eisenbahnen in Frankfurt am Main, tel.: 0049-69/97 50 46 31).

Calais to Nice

Dortmund/Düsseldorf/Cologne to Munich
Hamburg/Hannover to Munich
Cologne to Salzburg/Villach

Denderleeuw to Biaritz/Salzburg/Villach/Milan/Venice

Vienna/Linz to Feldkirch/Villach

SNCF France motorail
Deutsche Bahn Motorail site
DB in the UK.
or try Railsavers: a central booking agency.