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Porters at Train Stations

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Jun 26th, 2015, 04:54 AM
  #1
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Porters at Train Stations

I will be travelling with my 83 year old mother and sisters from Paris to Avignon. Does anyone know if they have porters or baggage assistance?
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Jun 26th, 2015, 05:17 AM
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You can find porters in some of the larger stations but I believe need to arrange in advance. Obviously this means you need to schedule trains without changes, since small stations may not have this service.

Check: http://www.francerailpass.com/index....ge-information

Most stations have luggage carts but it sounds like you need more help than that - esp getting on or off trains.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 07:23 AM
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Generally, no.

I would use carry-on sized wheeled cases and assume I was going to be doing all the pulling, pushing, lifting and carrying myself. Please note that that might include lifting your luggage into an overhead rack. Pack light so you don't pull a muscle.!
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Jun 26th, 2015, 09:31 AM
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I don't think the 83 year old mother is lifting anything - and suspect that the daughters are not up for it either.

Agree that if you are traveling by train you should limit you luggage - even with porters - since they still have to find someplace to put it on the train - and you will be delayed getting off the train while the porter finds you. Others will be waiting with their luggage at the door and get off first. Not a problem unless the train only stops for a few minutes before leaving.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 09:37 AM
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It can be arranged in Italy at certain stations but don't think France has that service.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 09:43 AM
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YOu and your sisters will have to help with your mother's luggage in France, that's all. If all the sisters are also in their 80s, and the mother's sisters, that is a problem.

People are generally nice and will help you on the train if you have difficulty with a bag, but you can't count on it, of course, someone being nearby, and they won't be helping with it all over the station, just perhaps on the train. YOu should not need to lift any luggage overhead on a train from Paris to Avignon, just put it in the luggage space at the end of the car (in fact, some French trains' overhead space won't hold anything but a small daypack).
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Jun 26th, 2015, 09:47 AM
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First of all, we have no idea how much and what type of luggage the OP even has.

Second of all, we cannot assume they will be in trains where the only luggage space is in an overhead rack.

The answer to the OP's question has already been posted.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 09:55 AM
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I have seen porters (porteurs) at garde montparnasse but your train will be leaving from gare de Lyon. Had a quick look at their website and couldn't find any reference to porters.

However, listed under Services, there is a service for handicapped--wheelchairs and use of elevators, etc, requiring an advance request and being at the station 30 minutes before departure. Your party could stay together and would have extra time to get bags on board and help of an attendant. There should be storage racks at either end of your car.

The website also says chariots (trolleys) are available but ime they are few and far between and usually require 1 or 2-euro coins.

http://www.gares-sncf.com/fr/gare/fr...-lyon/services
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Jun 26th, 2015, 10:15 AM
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Reality check.

Whilst long distance trains always have luggage racks at the end of the carriage these are small and fill up quickly. There is a fairly good chance you may have no choice but to use the overhead racks. These will be large enough for a small case or bag - its only commuter trains that cover shortish distances that don't have provision for luggage above your seat.

Porters are not common, some services are not offered round the clock, and luggage carts are scarce even if they are listed as being available on websites. As stated above kind hearted people may well help you out - this has happened to me before - but you need to prepare for the worst case scenario (doing it all yourself) which is not an unrealistic scenario by any means.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 10:22 AM
  #10
 
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>>First of all, we have no idea how much and what type of luggage the OP even has.<<

Since the OP is asking about porters it can be assumed they will have luggage, and probably have too much luggage for an 83 yo to handle -- and maybe too much for any of them.

>>Second of all, we cannot assume they will be in trains where the only luggage space is in an overhead rack.<<

No one said it would be the only space -- but it definitely might be the only available space.

>>The answer to the OP's question has already been posted.<<

okaaaay
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Jun 26th, 2015, 11:09 AM
  #11
 
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Definitely go first class where you will usually find is more easy to stow luggage - fewer people riding in same-size train car - IME often empty seats even to put luggage on. For lots about European trains check these excellent sites: www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Pack very light - like others say you cannot depend on there being porters unless you go thru the cumbersome way of asking for assistance to be there in advance. Italian stations at times do have porters but in other countries not much.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 11:56 AM
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European train systems are however very atune to folks with disabilities or problems like your papa's - it is worth going to the station a day before and asking the train information counter about reserving some help at the other end.

But luggage carts IME - not RM's though - are usually sitting in racks right outside the arriving train - carry some euro coins to put in them - you get the coin back when you return it to another rack at the station exit or on another platform.

But really travel very light so you can manage all the bags if needed.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 01:00 PM
  #13
 
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Her sisters or OP's sisters.
As much as I like independent travel, if there is this amount of assistance needed, a tour might be a better choice.
As for people in their 80's being able to pull a suitcase, yes they can. Whether "these" can, is really unknown--but apparently assumed that they can't.
As has been pointed out, the luggage racks on trains require able bodies in many cases.
It is good to know from Pal that services can perhaps be arranged--but it may be difficult for a traveler to do so ("go to the station the day before, etc.") if they are not fluent in French to do it by phone.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 01:17 PM
  #14
 
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If some helpful fellow in the station offers to help carry your luggage, he may be planning to rip you off. If you haven't confirmed the presence of porters and made a reservation, don't take advantage of such offers of help.

This does not apply to another passenger helping you load the luggage on the train or put the cases overhead. But be careful of help when you get off the train. There's a technique where the strongest person stays on the platform and lifts the bags up onto the train. Upon arrival, I'd have one of the sisters detrain first, then the strong person. As the bags are handed down, the strong one passes them to the sister to guard while he gets the next bag.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 01:29 PM
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I would not count on it. Each person needs to travel with only one small suitcase that they would be able to roll along themselves.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 04:17 PM
  #16
 
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"If some helpful fellow in the station offers to help carry your luggage, he may be planning to rip you off."

This seems to be very widely shared among US tourists.
Last time I offered help to 2 US elderly people, the husband actually yelled at me.
Someone official came to help and he carried on yelling at her - whilst she was actually doing it on top of her job.

Now I must say I'm much more circumspect before offering help. But only to US tourists. Others still seem to think that someone offering help is just nice.

Mais bon... I look ugly...

To OP : answer has indeed been given : ask the station... they do have helpers ! I've seen countless times SNCF personal helping elderlies and handicapped.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 07:01 PM
  #17
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Thanks everyone for your help and advise. I have warned my sisters about overpacking, but not sure they get it. We wil be in paris for a week then taking the TGV to Avignon, so no changing of trains. We will just have to lift her bags on to the train ourselves.
My sisters and mother are very fluent in French, so we will ask around when we get there. And no, we are not going to do a tour. Picking up rental car in Avignon.

Have already purchased tickets and purchased 2nd class.
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Jun 26th, 2015, 08:19 PM
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The SNCF does have a door to door luggage service. You can pack as much as you like, they will pick up your luggage at your domicile (hotel) and deliver it to your destination address. No need to lift anything.

The site is in French but as your family is fluent, that should not be a problem. This solution might work well for you:

http://bagages.voyages-sncf.com/
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Jun 26th, 2015, 09:14 PM
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However -- if everyone brings large suitcases they likely won't all fit in your rental car. Just another reason you need to convince them to pack light.
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Jun 27th, 2015, 05:05 AM
  #20
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janisj:
I hear ya! I called auto europe and they helped me pick out a car that should work. They may have bags on their lap

Sarastro: Thank you SO much for the tip. We will contact them.
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