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How much time to you have to board the TGV? With luggage?

We purchased tix from Paris Lyon station going to Barcelona Sants. We are 2 adults and 3 kids, with 3-4 suitcases and personal small backpacks.

Sorry if this sounds silly, but I'm trying to understand the loading process. Once the train arrives, is it my understanding it is a quick rush for everyone to board the train? We have tix on the upper deck. Are we expected to drag all the luggage on ourselves up the stairs and leave the luggage in a rack on the second level then find our seats, or is there another area at the boarding level of our car where suitcases can be stored? Not sure how much time the train is stopped to allow all passengers on the car with the luggage.

ANY insight on the boarding process, how much time to allow, how much time we have etc would be much appreciated!

Posted by
7175 posts

Gare de Lyon is the originating station so you will have plenty of time to board. I’m not sure where luggage racks are on TGV Duplex.

Posted by
18469 posts

When I look at the 3 direct trains to Barcelona, 9711, 9713, & 9715, they all originate at Gare de Lyon. They will be spotted on the platform at least 15 minutes before departure and the track will show up on the train board. So proceed to the track and get on board your designated carriage.

Remember, its a train, not an airplane. Nobody has to be in their seats with carry-ons stowed in the overhead bins or beneath the seat in front of you, nor must your seat belts fastened and seat-backs in the upright and locked position. You and your kids and your luggage just have to be on the train enough for them to close the doors. You can find places to stow your luggage and locate your seats after the train is moving. It will proceed slowly at yard speed until it is well clear of the station and won't ramp up to cruising speed until it gets onto the special high-speed tracks it is designed to run on.

Posted by
11503 posts

You do have to lug your own stuff so I would make sure you don't overpack , if children are very young you really need to focus on this , as one parent is going to have to focus in keeping kids safe and together and other parent in bags . If kids are older than 8 they should be able to roll their own suitcases .

Also , do bring food and drinks in train , a picnic , train food is limited boring and overpriced . It's fun for the kids to have snacks

Posted by
5142 posts
  • Make sure you arrive at the train station at least 30 minutes before your departure.
  • Check the electronic board to find out what platform your train is on.
  • If your train is already on it's respective platform (as may be the case since Paris Gare de Lyon is a terminal station) you can board
    up to 15-20 minutes prior to departure.

  • Make sure you board the correct carriage; this information will be printed on your ticket.

  • There are luggage racks near the doors at the end of each car and there are also
    overhead racks on the lower & upper decks. We took our luggage to the upper deck so we could keep on eye on it.

  • I'd probably have one of the adults board first, then the children with their backpacks, then the other adult loads all luggage onto the train.

  • Do try to pack light and enjoy your trip!

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks everyone, that's exactly the info I was looking for- great tips on the food too!

One other question, we will be sure to board our correct car, but we have friends with tickets in the car next to us. Once our tickets have been confirmed etc, are we confined to the one car or is there access to walk through to other cars?

Posted by
7606 posts

You can move from car to car. It is like Amtrak in the USA. There is a dining car several cars away usually.

Posted by
21 posts

We took the TGV from Paris Charles De Gaulle to Avignon a couple of years ago. First you don't find out what platform your train will be leaving from until just before the train arrives. I don't remember if it was 15 minutes or more. So you will see all the passengers watching the monitors for their platforms. Once the platform has been assigned everyone starts heading out all at once. While it wasn't a mad dash, people were walking briskly to the platform. I don't know about Paris Lyon but at the airport station, there were signs on where to stand on the platform so your correct carriage will stop in front of you.

When the train arrives, yes, you will be expected to carry all your bags on the train yourselves. It would be ideal if everyone can carry their own bag on the train. I don't know if the kids are big enough to help with their bags. Platform to train could mean just rolling on or managing a step or two. There are luggage racks on both lower and upper deck and technically I think you can leave them in either area. But I would feel more secure leaving it on the same level where my seats are. Also, the racks are not that big so you would be taking up the space for those whose seats are at the lower deck. We found the stairs manageable with one 25" roller bag each. I personally thought that was too big and if I had to do it again I would bring a 20-21" roller instead. The trains leave on time and as long as you are all on the train with your bags, you should be okay if you are still settling in when the train starts to leave the station (just make sure you hold on).

Here is a video that should give you an idea of the stair situation from the lower to upper deck. Note that its Barcelona to Paris on the video, opposite of your journey but should still be similar. Enjoy your trip!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjuJm9FS0Lw&t=1s&list=PLQgmEKV-TsAO_dEwJ0bsXF02B23AQljTc&index=14

Posted by
5142 posts

Once our tickets have been confirmed etc, are we confined to the one car or is there access to walk through to other cars?

You can certainly walk from car to car, and you can even sit next to your friends as long as there are empty seats, but you'll need to move if passengers board the train (at another stop) and claim their designated seats ;-)

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
8889 posts

Gare de Lyon has a slightly confusing layout. It has two sections, called Hall 1 and Hall 2.
Hall 1 has platforms with letters, A to N. Hall 2 has numbered platforms 5 to 23, odd numbers only.
See plan here: http://www.garedelyon.fr/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/plan-gare-de-lyon.png
Only the French could think of this system.

Aim to arrive at the station about 30 minutes before your train starts. The video screens will list your train departing from "Hall 1" or "Hall 2". Go to the correct Hall, and wait. There is limited seating. Unless you are lucky you will have to stand.
About 15 minutes before departure, the video will show the actual platform. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFVbOVx9McU

Walk to the platform. You will need your ticket to go through the ticket barrier to access the platform.
Find the correct coach and get on. You can walk from one coach to the next. But it is quicker with luggage to walk along the platform to the correct coach. Walking through the train you will be pushing past everyone else trying to get on.

Are we expected to drag all the luggage on ourselves up the stairs and leave the luggage in a rack on the second level then find our seats, or is there another area at the boarding level of our car where suitcases can be stored?

Yes, between when you get to the station and when you take your seat there is nobody to help you. Travel light.
Neither deck is at entry level. From the door there are steps down to the lower deck. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=KrXUqOPU9wc

Read this page about TGV's (includes pictures and videos): https://www.seat61.com/tgv.htm

There are limited places to buy food for the journey at the station. If possible buy your food earlier and bring it with you.

Once our tickets have been confirmed etc, are we confined to the one car or is there access to walk through to other cars?

You are thinking planes and airports again! There is no check-in, your tickets are never "confirmed". You get on, you sit down. You can at any time walk the length of the train. But trying to walk through the train when people are trying to get on or off will involve pushing past people.
Tickets are checked by the on-train ticket inspector while the train is travelling.

In Conclusion: This is actually simpler than you think. You are viewing it compared with the airport process, it is nothing like that.

Posted by
342 posts

I recommend buying your food for trip at the Pret-a-Manger in Hall 1 of the train station; I've had some delicious train picnic meals from there, and especially good variety for kids, I think. I suggest getting there 40-45 minutes early if you do buy food there, versus the typical 30. That will also allow for a bathroom break before boarding.

Posted by
2466 posts

I'd buy anything the kids want to eat and drink from the various vendors...and the ever-important bathroom break. There are bathrooms on the train, though.

Posted by
3943 posts

Chris F. spells it all out. My trip departed from Hall 2 which was very crowded indeed. Platform announcements at all French stations won't show until about 20 minutes ahead. Your seat is guaranteed but it is wise to board as soon as you can because luggage space is limited. My train was 20 cars long, double-decked, and full. Board the correct car because it is much easier to move along the platform than the interior aisle. It is a wonderful ride.

Posted by
12132 posts

It's quick. The train you want pulls into the station and you hop on. I use second class, so there's a little scramble for a good seat. I don't have a big bag which requires a little more effort. The train sits in place maybe 15-20 minutes before pulling out (less at smaller stations but long enough to get you and your bags on). I'd say be at your platform by 20 minutes before departure and you're more than fine. Give yourself another 10-15 minutes to find your platform once you are at the station (big stations will take more time than smaller stations).

Posted by
31035 posts

It will be difficult to be at the train 20 minutes ahead and finding the platform for 15. That's 35, and they only post the platform at the most 20 minutes ahead.

Posted by
437 posts

While you should board directly into the right car, if the children are small or cause a delay getting to the assigned carriage, it’s better to get on the train and move along inside because it will leave without you. If the conductor gets on the train you should too!

Enjoy the planning and the trip!

Posted by
5697 posts

Just a side note -- you will be boarding at the initial station, so the train will be waiting, but if you board at an intermediate station the stop time is shorter and you should LET PASSENGERS EXIT before you try to get on (basic law of physics -- two bodies cannot occupy the same space.) Similarly, if you are leaving the train at an intermediate stop, be standing by the door with your bags ready to exit as soon as the train stops so you don't have to try moving against the flow.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks again everyone, I'm feeling confident now (and excited) for boarding the train, I think I got it now!

It's been mentioned to arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before the train departs. Are there security lines or passport control we will need to clear in advance that we should factor additional time for? If so, how long should we expect that to take? I don't want to miss this train!!

Posted by
8889 posts

It's been mentioned to arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before the train departs. Are there security lines or passport control we will need to clear in advance that we should factor additional time for? If so, how long should we expect that to take? I don't want to miss this train!!

As I said earlier "You are thinking planes and airports again! There is no check-in, your tickets are never "confirmed". You get on, you sit down.".
Trains and stations are totally open. There are no checks until the ticket inspector comes round to check tickets, and that could be 10 to 30 minutes after departure.

The 30 minutes is purely for your convenience. So long as you are on the train before it departs, it is OK. You could arrive 5 minutes before, if you knew your way around the station, but it takes about that long to walk from the métro to the trains. A regular traveller might arrive at the station 10 minutes before.

IT IS SIMPLER THAN YOU THINK.

Posted by
12132 posts

Nigel is mostly right. They generally don't post the platform until shortly before the train arrives. I'm thinking of getting from a metro, taxi or bus into the station - and situated - may take ten to fifteen minutes depending on the size of the station. Most of the time the TGV (now OuiGo?) will use a limited set of platforms and a person (I'd call a conductor but in the station not on the train) can point you to the right area while you wait for the departure platform to be posted.

Once you have done it once, it's pretty easy. My biggest flub was going to the wrong station in Paris. For whatever reason, I had one station (the wrong one) in my head and went there. I didn't realize I was in the wrong place until I printed my ticket at the kiosk. I just missed my train at the correct station. The "conductor" said it wasn't a problem, just take the next one. If, unlike me, you don't go to the wrong station, you won't have any problem.

Posted by
18469 posts

Your questions are not trivial. If you ride the Eurostar between London and Paris, you do have security and passport checks to deal with. They take about 30 minutes, so arriving at the station 1 hour before scheduled departure time is now the norm. But that is not the case for French TGV trains.