Breaking: French trains ban cellos

Breaking: French trains ban cellos


norman lebrecht

September 30, 2021

It is reliably reported that musicians travelling with large instruments on French trains are being issued with verbal warnings of a hundred-Euro fine if they attempt to do so again.

The sanction has apparently been in place for several months.

It applies to all instruments above 1.2 metres long, which would include cellos, double-basses and larger brass instruments.

The state rail monopoly SNCF has apprently decided to treat musical instruments differently from other forms of luggage – let alone bicycles and skis which ride for free.

Report here.


  • Fred Funk says:

    Lots of French horn, and tenor/bass trombone players have cut bells. Some of these horns can be put in large viola cases. It’s unfair to lump these musicians into a commuting viola player stereotype.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The French have become very strict about corona measures and those instruments don’t wear masks and are never vaccinated once, let alone twice.

  • Nightowl says:

    The celli themselves have responded by organizing a nationwide strike against the French transportation system

  • Ben G. says:

    I remember traveling with my bass in the old Corail trains during the 80’s without any problems. The musician’s union or other associations will do their best to counteract these decisions.

    However, the big problem is that once they start putting these mesures into effect, there will be no turning back to the days of free transport for our instruments.

    Basses are cumbersome indeed, but Cellos, Trombones, and Horns…?

    The French will do anything to make a fast Euro.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      And what about those huge cumbersome back-packs which travellers have attached to themselves like a huge carapace? They’ll hit you in the face when they suddenly turn around. This was one of the most unpleasant aspects of travelling through Europe when we did so a few years ago. When they put these huge packs down you have to negotiate them when walking anywhere.

  • V. Lind says:

    Bicycles and skis don’t usually take up seats. Will the railway let them travel as luggage? If not, then it is time to ask for a why not.

  • Wechselhorn says:

    A modern French horn, uncoiled, is about 5.5 meters long. Guess they must be banned as well?

  • Frank Rippenthorpe says:

    They probably won’t let my pet horse on the train either. Funny that the airlines let him on as he is a comfort animal. A Dr’s note does wonders in these trying times. The only problem is keeping a mask on Mr. Ed.

  • Sisko24 says:

    I’m shocked. I thought the French had better judgment that this. What about bagpipes?