I am considering a late summer / early autumn Loire tour and, if possible (easy) would like to take the bikes to and from the area by train from my home in Surrey. I can get to Calais, Newhaven and Porstmouth from home easily but given the Loire's location, Portsmouth seems the natural crossing point - my preference being to Ouistreham to catch the train from nearby Caen.
Does anybody have any experience / advice of such a route, obviously the less changes the better? An initial look suggests a non stop train to Tours might be a possibility. Can you take bikes on these trains / what are the arrangements? Any other thoughts most welcome.