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Luggage on French Trains

Imagine some different scenarios on different trains, but in general, is there one location for people's luggage, or do we keep it with us at our seats? Is it easy to deal with getting on and off? We're seniors, and one of us uses a cane for balance (no disability or impairment).

Posted by
7397 posts

On all of the trains we used in France, we just placed our carry-on bag above our seat on the racks. There's also luggage storage at the ends of the train cars. We pack light, so it was easy for us getting on & off.

I don't know if you would want to consider 1st class for the train (I've never used it.) They might have more help, if you needed someone to assist moving your luggage on & off.

Posted by
33128 posts

Generally you tote what you brung. How much and how big is your luggage?

Can the one without the cane handle it all?

It varies depending on the route and the type of train, but there are usually some fairly steep steps up and on double deckers then more steps either down or up.

The golden rule is you can't block the aisles.

Unless all your origin and end stations are also the origin and termination point of the train you will have a quite limited time to get yourself and your luggage on and off the train.

Some train stations have shopping cart type luggage carts many of which require a one Euro coin to release.

Posted by
10298 posts

Nigel has brought up a good point--which means which train on which route? Some routes run some double-deck trains at some times of day or some seasons, which you'd want to avoid if someone has problems with stairs or stairs and luggage.

First class does not have helpers but you will have more room.

You can hire a porter at the Paris stations; I don't know about other stations.

Posted by
16894 posts

First class can moderate the number of people sharing the luggage space and breathing room, but does not change boarding assistance options for disabled and elderly passengers (which you probably don't need). Of course, try to pack just one easily-manageable bag per person.

Traditional trains can have a couple of large steps up to board from the platform. Newer, faster trains tend to board more levelly with the platform, but may have split-level "Duplex" seating in France, with a half-dozen steps up or down inside the car.

To avoid having to travel through possibly crowded train cars with luggage, try to board directly to your assigned car or to your class of service, if seats are not assigned. If you're boarding at the starting point of the train, you may be able to board 20 minutes early in a leisurely manner. If you're at a pass-through station, you may have only a few minutes to get either on or off a train. To get off the train quickly, it's best to be standing near the door with your luggage as you approach the station. See general train station and boarding discussed under All Aboard.

Posted by
8889 posts

scmills45, yes you keep your luggage with you, but not necessarily at your seats, there are luggage racks etc. in each coach. You are responsible for getting it on and off the train, and correctly stowed. Baggage cars and helpful porters only exist in Hollywood films.
You also have to transport (carry,/wheel) your luggage through the station and possibly up 1-2 steps onto the train.
This web page will give you more info, including photos: http://seat61.com/luggage-on-european-trains.htm

Posted by
8171 posts

Luggage racks for larger bags are usually at the ends of cars and are vulnerable to theft; smaller bags can go above the seat and sometimes there are tented seatbacks where a bag can be stowed. Be very careful during boarding as thieves sometimes board trains as if passengers and snag unattended purses or small bags as they walk through. We were on a train where the woman across from us put her purse on her own seat as she hoisted her bag into the rack and during that moment of inattention her purse was gone. This past year we were across from four Britons who were pickpocketed as they got on the train in Vienna and lost all their cards and money. (the wallet was found in a trash can on the train but the money was gone and they had cancelled the cards by this time.)

On a train with many stops you can get up and stand in the area with baggage racks if you are nervous about your bag. It isn't common to have someone board and snag bags but it is not entirely rare either.

Posted by
2466 posts

Most people do not worry about thieves stealing their luggage on trains. But you should never leave your purse or any gadgets unattended.
If you are concerned, you can just get up once and a while to keep an eye on your luggage, which you store in the racks.
First class might not be worth the money to you, but there is extra room between the seats. This is often the case on Second class trains, as well.

If you have a direct train - no stops - your luggage will be fine as long as you keep it locked as you would normally when in transit through an airport.

If your stop is the last one on the train route, you can safely store your luggage on the bottom rack. Everyone else will put theirs in front of it.

Posted by
3200 posts

Last week I took the Thalys train from Paris to Amsterdam.
Each car has it's own attendant at the door for boarding.
He helped me up with my suitcase (lots of shopping in Paris....), then told me to get up at each stop the train made before Amsterdam to make sure my case was still there.
I have always done this on trains in Italy at each stop, and had planned to do it anyway in France; but this is the first time a rail employee has advised doing it!
Just out of interest while we talk about trains: there was a firearm sniffing Labrador, 6 gun toting customs agents, and four armed police aboard that train the whole way.
They walked up and down the whole journey.

I don't find it easy to get on and off the trains in Europe, but I find I am always lucky, and someone will offer to help.
Such lovely people in France and the Netherlands!

Posted by
8171 posts

The Thalys does not allow any yokel to board but most trains are not ticket checked at the doors and so thieves can board and steal and walk away before the train departs. In Spain there is airlines type security for trains but this is not the case in Italy and France.

Posted by
129 posts

If I must place luggage on the rack by the door I place it with the closure facing away from the aisle and strive to get a seat facing the luggage during the trip and keep a close eye during stops. Word of caution about using a porter at the stations, There are really slick thieves posing as such. I cautioned my daughter once not to use one but she insisted and between the cab stand and train station entrance he had cleaned out one pocket of the luggage. Amazing how fast they are!

train playforms are posted only 15 minutes in advance which means one has to really hurry to get to the proper ramp and then find your car or, second class versus first. I'm pretty mobile and find it can be a rush so I ask the train rep (there is usually one near the platforms fielding questions) which platform/ gate the train to ------- usually goes out on. While no guarantee, they are usually at or close to the same gate each time. You can then stand there waiting for the announcement. May help.

Posted by
14580 posts

"The Thalys does not allow any yokel to board...." I would say that is very true! In 2007 I was taking a Thalys train to Cologne; prior to actual boarding, I had my Pass and seat /coach reservation checked three times. ie, twice on the platform when walking to the specific coach luggage in tow, then one more time before you literally step onto your coach, the last time as the train is underway and the controller comes. As usual, he wasn't so interested in seeing the rail Pass but the seat reservation. That was the last time I chose to go with Thalys.

Posted by
8171 posts

Fred -- that is actually GOOD stuff i.e. security on the train rather than the typical 'any thief can walk through and steal your stuff' plan. Thalys is a great choice.

Posted by
10298 posts

Ouch! Robbed by someone posing as a porter. Your young, tourist daughter was targeted, but it's too bad because this gives all those hard-working porters scratching out a living a bad name.

Posted by
4684 posts

Thalys has had higher security than usual ever since a failed terrorist attack in 2015.

Posted by
3941 posts

...didn't see it mentioned here, but when you are coming to your stop, get up and be ready to get off along with everyone else. Don't wait until the train full stops to get your stuff together. My husband and mom did that when we were in Italy - I had my bag and was waiting by the doors. For some silly reason, they didn't get up to get their stuff until the train stopped, and guess what...they were struggling to get off with their bags thru the crowd of people getting on with their bags, while I'm standing beside the train wondering where the heck they are.

Posted by
8171 posts

There are pretty much no porters for European trains. Anyone grabbing at your bags is likely to be a thief or scammer.

Posted by
11507 posts

I am going to be frank , pack light , you must be able to deal with your luggage and sometimes even younger fitter people struggle , like me trying to lug my the too large suitcase up the stairs to my seat on the second level !! All the storage on bottom was filled !

Also as one of you had balance issues you really don't want to be caught still trying to get to seat when train starts moving .

Pack light I promise you will not regret it !! If you get sick of a limited wardrobe you can always buy an new top , doubles as a souvenirs

Posted by
14580 posts

@ janettravels....You are right in that sense on increased security on the trains especially nowadays. Until 2007 what I had experienced with the TGV and the ICE was not as stringent as with Thalys. In that sense being "controlled" 3 times was a surprise.

Posted by
9773 posts

If you can advise which station in Paris you're leaving from (if any), I can look up the assistance for mobility-challenged passengers, which may be relevant in your case (i.e. I think this would help you find an official porter). I looked this up once before for a specific train station.

Posted by
2466 posts

There might not be an announcement for your station.

You should look for the station right before your stop and get up to get your luggage. You will probably need a little more time.
Don't block the area, and don't stand too close to the door, because a conductor might be there to open it.
Pack as light as you possibly can. Maybe a small backpack would be a good idea, if you need to carry things on a daily basis?