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Tips for train stations in Paris

We are leaving Paris after our RS tour by train to Berlin. Any suggestions or tips on boarding trains. We depart from Paris Nord. Are there long lines or security we need to be aware of?

Posted by
8510 posts

Get there early to be sure you have a good place to stow your luggage. There will be crowds trying to board.

Posted by
9928 posts

In the past in pre-covid days there were some of the Roma petition girls that roamed thru Gare du Nord so you had to have your wits about you. This is always a time when you need to be pickpocket proof and have your credit cards/debit cards stowed safely away in a money belt. They are not dangerous but will try to get you to "sign" a petition and then try to pick your pocket while they are at it.

When I took a train to Bordeaux from Gare Montparnasse in October there were employees in the station who were checking your Pass Sanitaire and giving you an aqua color wrist band showing you were OK to board. There are indications the Pass Vaccinal may go away in the next month or so, so this may be done away with before you travel.

Some things may depend on what the rules are for your travel time as things are changing rapidly. When are you traveling?

I like to be to the station early....and will usually get there WAY too early. I've had a taxi get fouled up in traffic before I got to Gare du Nord so I would plan to be there 45 minutes before departure which should be a gracious plenty.

There are food kiosks in the station so you can get sandwiches and drinks for your train trip.

Once the train arrives, it will show on the boards in the station. I move to the track (voie) and board right away. I usually like to sit where I can see my luggage if I have to put it at the end of the car. I want to board immediately.

That's a pretty long train trip. Do you have to change several times?

Posted by
3486 posts

One further thought - If you purchase tickets well in advance , prices can be markedly lower than close to departure date , Consider buying first class , the coaches are generally less crowded and there is more available luggage space .We travel very light , a 22" roller bag and a backpack each . It's not that you will bring more or larger luggage , but you will not be competing for a place for your bags in second class where the space is more limited . I have found that , in general , the price for first class ( with seat reservations ) is not an onerous amount . Certainly look at the cost difference when you book , you could be pleasantly surprised .

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for all the advice. We travel RS style so limited baggage. Yes we will check on first class tickets. There is only one train change in Germany. We are traveling in May after an RS tour in France starting the end of April. Hopefully the pandemic restrictions will be eased somewhat by then. So far we have avoided pickpockets and other nefarious incidents. On a previous RS tour in Prague, we did encounter pickpockets sizing us up. Our guides made quick work of them and the group safely boarded the subway.

Posted by
21314 posts

I've always managed to find a place for my bag (about 24") in French second-class rail cars...except in July of 2017. I had a problem at least twice on that trip. It seemed as if half the population of France was taking trains then. However, I was boarding at intermediate points on those trains, not at their points of origin.

I'm sure there's relatively more luggage space in first-class cars since they have fewer seats.

Posted by
8510 posts

When we’ve traveled first class from France to Germany on German trains (not SNCF trains), a full meal was included and served at our seat.

Posted by
4182 posts

There is a security check at Gare du Nord for Thalys trains to Belgium, Netherlands and Cologne; it is not as thorough as for a flight but still, 15 minutes would cut it too close. 30 minutes is better.

Posted by
4182 posts

That's good news! It had always been a farce even when it was active.

Posted by
2754 posts

Pam is right about perhaps needing a wristband, look around the station and see if there is a little kiosk doing that, we needed it at Gare du l'Est. No pickpockets at that station, but lots of places to eat. There were touts at the metro ticket machines.

Another train station tip, the bathrooms are now pay to play. Make sure you have some euro coins or look for a turnstile that will accept a credit card.

As for security, it was minimal leaving Gare du l'Est for Strasbourg (scan QR code at turnstile) and non-existent at Strasbourg coming back. Anyone could have wandered onto the TGV if they wished. It was also complicated to log into the onboard wifi, you needed your name and either your ticket number or boarding number. I'd like to know who's stealing the bandwidth on a train at 200 mph.