We are a party of 6 traveling from Bordeaux to Avignon. We will be traveling in March and the schedule shows a 6 minute transfer time between our train from Bordeaux and the one leaving for Avignon. Is this doable with luggage?
Arles is a small station but that transfer requires your group to be organized and hop off immediately with luggage in hand. The regional train may or may not wait if your long-distance train arrives late. The next departures from Arles to Avignon after 16:01 are usually a bus/train combo, then a bus, then a reserved TGV, then at 18:01 another regional train of the same type as you're planning to take. Your regional train ticket would not be valid on the more expensive TGV.
Google Maps provides these photos. They show that there are only a few platforms, and maybe an underground passage, to deal with.
As I remember it is a very small station. The train arrived, we got off, and someone was waving us over to another track with a waiting train. We got on and we off. My guess is that the regional will wait a few minutes. If an half hour or more later then probably not. A lot of people made that transfer that day.
6 minutes? That's no fun--how about 4? or 2?
You'll need to have everyone ready to go with bags in hand in the sprinter start position at the door as the train pulls into Arles.
Please have someone film this and post it on YouTube. ;-)
I've boarded many a train while it is moving/just about to move--but not usually with luggage.
Tell the conductor on the train that you need to make the connection, and see if he or she can help with suggestions, what platform, etc. He/she might be nice enough to tell the one driving the thing and perhaps even get in early, and/or radio ahead so the Avignon train will give you a break, maybe.
Or---relax, take your time, and catch one of the next trains, which are pretty frequent. Your tickets probably are for that one train to Avignon only, but if you're nice (assuming someone checks) you might plead ignorance and say that your transfer was too tight and you're now on this later train, and we're six stupid (American?) tourists, and we really love France, and geez can't you just understand our plight . . .
Chances are you'll bust an artery trying to make the connection--and the connecting train hasn't even arrived yet!!