My wife and I will traveling from Nantes in France, to Budapest along the EuroVelo 6 Cycle Route. A distance of ~2300km

For various reasons (travel ahead of time, logistics of transporting bikes etc.) we would like to buy our bikes for the trip, at the start of the trip. Either in Nantes itself, or in Paris which is our last stop before starting the trip.

Our budget for buying bikes is around EUR700 per bike (including panniers etc.)

Our knowledge of french is v. basic.

My question:

  1. Where is the best place to buy a touring bike for our budget, either new or second hand, in Paris or Nantes, specifically for someone with limited local language knowledge. Have had Decathalon suggested, but general experiences with big sports stores is fairly negative.



  • Since France is one of THE cycling countries there are plenty of decent smaller cycle shops all over and in Nantes. Something about pricing tells me that I'd rather not buy in Paris. – Carel Feb 27 '18 at 10:43
  • @Carel agree that a big city is likely to be more expensive! – RichardAtCT Feb 27 '18 at 11:29
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    I don't think this is a good idea. New bikes almost always have teething troubles and take a while to get set up comfortably, so setting off on something you've never ridden before is a recipe for pain (both literal and metaphorical). – David Richerby Feb 27 '18 at 12:51
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    I agree with David above. Fitting to a new bike is a process, and one which you wouldn't want to do on a long distance tour. Not to mention the language barrier, it sounds like you're heading into a really difficult and uncomfortable situation. Many airline carriers will allow a bike to count as checked baggage, although packing a bike is a headache in itself. Good luck. – Nathaniel Hoyt Feb 28 '18 at 6:15
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    This was really a borderline-off topic question, and perhaps should have been migrated to travel. – Criggie May 22 '19 at 8:15

Decathlon and InterSport are decent enough shops, but I wouldn't want to walk in, spend €700 on a bike and kit, and ride 2300km. There's also a Giant store in Nantes. In an ideal world you'd get something second hand and have it serviced (or buy second hand from a bike shop that has already serviced it). Getting all the luggage fitted and everything set up nicely might involve you taking or buying tools, and a trip to a hardware shop

Nantes seems (according to Google maps) to have a decent selection of independent bike shops with good reviews. A chain bike shop that does servicing could also be good. These places will be able to fit racks, extra bottle cages etc. without difficulty.

Even a big shop doesn't actually hold much stock, so your chances of riding out with something suitable are low. You'll need to plan carefully. One advantage of the big retailers is that you might be able to try a bike in a branch near you, and order it in to a suitably located branch to be built up for you. I'd probably go down that route because I struggle to find bikes to fit, especially second hand, but if you're more of a normal size than me, contacting a shop that sells second hand, and explaining what you need, could be very useful. I would write in French with the aid of Google, but include the same message in English underneath.

I've ridden a fair bit (day rides) in the Loire valley, and there are plenty of little bike shops in case things go wrong in the first few days, or you find you need something extra. These aren't necessarily the places that have much stock of unusual parts.

  • Also note that the Loire à vélo section (800km between Nantes and Nevers) is more often run in the opposite direction, which might, if you're really lucky, mean bikes available at the end (your beginning), from people who hired by buying and selling – Chris H Feb 27 '18 at 15:06

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