I thought I would write this with my train experience fresh on my mind. As usual, the people at the train station were very helpful (once I found someone who spoke some English) here in Chateauroux. I told them I wanted a train to Perpignan (near Barcelona in France) or Barcelona, and that I wanted to take my bicycle.
The train master said there were two ways. One, I could pay 150F and my bike was shipped separately. The other, that I could travel with my bicycle on those trains that would allow it. He gave me the route for me, Friday, 9:30a-4:30p, with the bicycle arriving on Saturday (this is with the bike on a different train). So I asked for the other way (me and bicycle on the same train(s)), which was: Leaving Chateauroux on Thursday, I could get a train to (do you have a map nearby) Brive-la-Galliard or Limoges. The next train to Toulouse was Sat. only. Then the next train to Carcassone (down AG1) was Sunday only and the one to Perpignan left before that one arrives, although it ran every day, so I wouldn’t arrive in Perpignan until Monday afternoon, and I also believe I remember there were train changes in Limoges with a very short interval to hop trains.
So I, perhaps foolishly, went for option A, which has me in Perpignan tomorrow, and the bike there the next day (Saturday), with much trepidation. He sent me to someone who issued the tickets, took my money, and then wanted my bike! On Thursday! I had of course planned (it’s only 3pm at this point) to bike to some nearby campground for the night. When I (and some kind individual nearby who volunteered to translate) said I wanted to keep my bicycle until Friday when I was getting on the train. The station master sad that would be okay, but that I then wouldn’t get my bicycle until Tuesday. Much discussion ensued, and they then said that if I left my bicycle that day, I would probably have it (my bicycle) on Sat. “Probably?” I said, since the first person, the one who had arranged my trip (different than the one who had sold me my ticket) had told me definitely Sat., with a slight possibility of Friday. Much more French ensued, my translator had to leave to get on his train, and the person who had sold me the ticket, the one who wanted my bike, went off somewhere, presumably to find the person who had arranged my trip. More time passed, and finally everyone showed up (The person who arranged my trip, the one who sold me my ticket, and the one who wanted my bike).The first person clarified that his original estimate was under the presumption that I gave them the bicycle right then.
SO, I asked how long I had to give them my bike, and they told me until 8pm or so, so I left. I found a reasonably cheap hostel
(115F) hotel room nearby with the help of the tourist office across the street from the train station, left my gear there (the people at the station had reminded me that anything left on the bike, even the water bottles, could be stolen), and returned to the station with my bicycle, where they wheeled it away, with me wondering if I would ever see it again. For a saving of 1 or 2 days, was it worth it? I guess I’d see.