So you’ve decided to come to Europe on a bike tour. You’ve picked the one you’d like to join and reserved your spot on the trip. Now what? One of the first questions we are usually asked is: “What airport should I fly to and what airlines are best?” The answer depends on a few key points which center around two main things: price and convenience. It is also important to keep both of these in mind especially if you decide to bring your bike on the trip as well.
Let’s use our bike tour in Provence as an example (as if you were traveling from North America).
Our first suggestion would be to fly non-stop, if possible, to a major gateway city in Europe (i.e. Paris, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam). Consider using a European airline as well as North American ones, especially if you are flying with your bicycle. The first reason is that several European airlines allow your bike to travel as part of your checked bag limit (i.e. for FREE). Air France and British Airways are two good examples. So while you may initially find cheaper flights elsewhere, be sure to factor in the roundtrip cost of flying with your bike. The second reason to fly non-stop to a city in Europe would be to reduce the risk of missed connections in North America. If you miss your connection in Chicago, for example, the next transatlantic flight might not be until the following day. On the other hand, if you miss a connection in London you might have to only wait a few hours for another flight to your final destination within Europe.
We’re also often asked, “What about connecting to Marseille, Nice or Geneva, since they are closer geographically to Provence?” Yes, these airports are physically closer to Provence, but one should look at the flight availability, the connections, as well as the total price and time involved in getting to them. Did you know that there is a high speed train directly from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport terminal to Avignon (Provence) in just under 3 hours? That is typically faster and less expensive than connecting to Marseille from Paris by air and then taking the train from there to Avignon.