This review of the wheelchair accessibility of a SNCF train from Paris to Nice was Summer 2022.
We took a SNCF TGV INOUI train from Paris to Nice. The train left from Gare de Lyon in Paris, and then went south through farm and wine countryside, and then along the southern coast of France (including St. Tropez and Cannes) until terminating in Nice. The ride was supposed to be 6 hours, but ended up being closer to 7.5 hours due to delays on the track. At least we were entitled to a partial refund!
Wheelchair Accessibility of Gare de Lyon
Gare de Lyon is one of France’s busiest (and most beautiful) train stations. We booked Acces Plus in advance, and so we knew to meet them at least 30 minutes before the departure. There was a tactile strip running from each of the station entrances that led to the Acces Plus office. The office was located on Level 0 in Hall 1, near the “allee de Bercy” access point. The office was relatively small and there were a lot of people, so we had to wait in a line that ran out of the office until we could check in for assistance. We then opted to wait in the hallway until our name was called–there was a cart next door at which we stocked up on expresso, juices, and croissants.
Tip: We did not receive food or water service on the trip, and the staff coming through our compartment were far and few between. There is a dining car, but it was upstairs and there was no way for me to access it on my own. I suggest bringing food and water on this long trip…and most of my fellow riders had known to do so.
Wheelchair Accessibility of the SNCF Train
When it was time to board, an Acces Plus agent called our name and walked us to the train. The agent brought us to a passenger car that had a step up into the train, a landing, and then a small set of stairs that led down into the passenger area. The agent then used a key to raise the landing in the passenger area–the whole landing was an elevator! Once the landing was raised, the agent put down a ramp, which bridged the gap between the platform and the train. I then maneuvered onto the landing in the car, and the agent lowered the landing until it was level with the lower seating area. I could then drive straight into the passenger car, and pull into the wheelchair area.
The toilet was wheelchair accessible, but too small for my scooter. I could not fit into the bathroom far enough to close the door.
The train ride was fast and pretty smooth–minimal jostling. We passed through farmland, wine country, small towns, and then finally to the coast. The wheelchair accessibility of the SNCF train from Paris to Nice was pretty decent, apart from the bathroom issues.
Refund for Delays
Our train was delayed ~1.5 hours due to a national train delay–all trains were running behind schedule. The silver lining was SNCF has a “G30” promise, which provides compensation if your train is delayed more than 30 minutes…for any reason. And the longer the delay, the more compensation to which you are entitled. You just need to fill out the form within 60 days of your trip and you will receive a voucher for future travel.
Tip: All of the announcements were in French only. I used Google Translate on my phone to record and translate what was said. It worked surprisingly well–enough to get the gist of the length and reason for the delay, as well as to hear the reminder about filling out the G30 form for compensation.
Wheelchair Accessibility of Nice
Most people had disembarked by the time we reached Nice, so the last hour was fairly quiet and calm. We were greeted by an Acces Plus agent at the Nice platform. He had me move onto the landing, and he then raised it up so I was at the top of the steps. He then put down a small ramp, and I drove down the ramp onto the platform. He helped us navigate to the main train station, and we then walked to our hotel.
Tip: The agent had a small ramp, which was just barely sufficient to bridge the gap between the train and the platform. It was really steep, which made the disembarking scarier than it had to be. I discovered there is a bigger ramp available as well, and will be asking for the bigger ramp for future trips on that route.