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Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

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GVL
Lincroft, New Jersey
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Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

We need help figuring out what is the best way to travel from Paris to Brugge. We htought it would be easy and it has not been that way at all. The only way that I found to get there by train was on Thalys and it is only goes to Brussels and then a transfer to Brugge. It would end up being over $200/person - which seems high. Our itinerary is 3 nights in Paris, 2 nights in Brugge, one night in Brussels to fly out ($100/person on Brussel air) for 5 mights in Prague. When I tried other trains, it said they cannot be booked before 60 days. Should we consider driving or could anyone suggest something else? Would appreciate any help. Thank you!

Brussels, Belgium
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1. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

You can't get to Brugge from Paris without starting on a high-speed Thalys train, whether you go to Bruxelles-Midi and change there (same station) for the local train to Brugge or to Lille and change there (which also involves changing stations from Lille-Europe to Lille-Flandres) for local trains first to Kortrijk and then to Brugge.

I don't know where you are looking for prices but if it's the American website Eurorail, compare with www.thalys.com. Other than special promotions, the cheapest Thalys tickets between Paris and Brussels costs about €40, booked at least one month in advance, otherwise €80; and a 2nd class return ticket from Brussels to Brugge (by InterCity train) costs about €26, therefore I would expect the total fare Paris-Brussels-Brugge-Brussels to be no more than €106 per person: unless your Brugge stay would be over a weekend (when you could buy a weekend return ticket half price from Belgian Railways), it makes no difference whether you buy a single ticket from Paris to Brugge (via Brussels) and then a single ticket from Brugge to Brussels; or a single ticket from Paris to Brussels and then a return ticket from Brussels to Brugge. Unfortunately however the fact that you would only be travelling one way from Paris to Brussels means you won't qualify for any of the special fares available for return tickets only. Note that you will be buying your first ticket, at least, in France, from French Railways, see www.voyages-sncf.com/dynamic/_SvHomePage…

Apart from Thalys you don't have to book in advance at all, in fact you can't reserve seats on most local trains. This does not necessarily mean you can't buy tickets in advance, but while I don't know what "it said they cannot be booked before 60 days" refers to, surely the obvious answer is - wait until that date to book!!

Guildford, United...
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2. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

Looking at the sncf website, it is possible to get an on line ticket to Lille for €23 if you book in advance - a flexible ticket is €37.

Some trains go to Lille Flandres, others to Lille Europe but they are only about 400 yards apart.

Lille Flandres to Bruges is either €14 or 22 depending which way you go.,

Look at www.voyages-sncf.com.

Going via Brussels means taking a Thalys as has already been said - look at Thalys.com or the sncf site. The fare seems to be €92.80 single with a change at Brussels Midi

GVL
Lincroft, New Jersey
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3. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

Thank you so much for your posts. Unfortunately we are traveling on a Monday so no weekend for discounts. Looks like we have to wait to book until only 2 months in advance. I would rather not use Thalys since it is much higher and have to change in Brussels. I went to the www. voyages-sncf.com and saw that we need to wait before booking (my French is rather rusty ) playing around once I put in the country where the tickets were to be sent to (United States) it changed to a differently named website.... It looks like it is about $45/person using Paris Nord as you said. Is it okay to be buying the 2nd class ticket? I do not know what the flexible means. We will be bringing some luggage with us. Thank you both for the input, really helps when one does not know the train systems.

GVL
Lincroft, New Jersey
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4. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

One more question. I asked whether 2nd is okay or is it best to get the flexible (I don't know the difference) do you recommend getting the ticket insurance that is stated on the site and also would you buy the tickets ahead of time as soon as they become available and have them mailed to us here in the states? Thanks again.

Guildford, United...
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5. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

2nd class should be fine although Belgian local trains are not known for their comfort.

Flexible usually means that you can take any train that day, whereas the cheap tickets will be restricted to the one train. For the TGV seat reservations are compulsory although they can be changed at the last minute. I believe that you can buy tickets online and collect them from a station in France, but there is a time limit between ordering and collection. The other option would be to get them mailed although I have never tried this with sncf.

60 days before travel is the normal booking time for european trains. If you decide on the flexible fares then just buy them in Paris when you arrive, it is very rare for trains to sell out unless it is a holiday weekend.

If you hire a car you will be charged a large dropoff fee as you will be leaving it in a different country.

As you will presumably have travel insurance I see no need for ticket insurance and I,m not too sure what it would cover.

Virtually every other railway site in Europe has an option to get most of the information in English, but typically not the French one.

GVL
Lincroft, New Jersey
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6. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

Railenthusiast - thank you! If you read this, if I may, does one buy the 2nd class ticket that same day at the rail station right before leaving or can it be purchased earlier? We had not taken out travel insurance since we are booking this holiday in bits and pieces all on our own. We are going to look into it today (last year in Tahiti I ended up breaking my leg and had insurance, sure glad we had it; but in that case had taken out the insurance through the cruise line) - do you have someone you use? Thank you again for all your time.

Victoria, Australia
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7. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

HI GVL - I purchased my Paris-Brugge tix in advance from the voyages-sncf site. Travelled via Lille as it was much cheaper than via Brussels. Printed the tickets off at home and just validated them at the machine in the station. It was easy. I bought the cheapest tix - didn't get flexible as my itinerary was already determined.

BTW - the local train from Lille to Brugges (we travelled 2nd class) got pretty crowded halfway along as the locals had finished work and were on their way home. The seats and space in 2nd class was considerably less than in 2nd class from Paris to Lille.

I always organise my own holidays and take out travel insurance. I'd always take the train as I enjoy being in the midst of life in another country....

Sandra

GVL
Lincroft, New Jersey
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8. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

We had been given the idea to go to Lille by a poster from the UK who was very helpful. Sounds so much better than going all the way to Brussels - cheaper and quicker. Thank you so much for letting us know that you did the same thing we are looking to do and that you paid for the tickets via the internet, etc. Wonder if we should go first class from Lille to Brugge - think it's worth the extra dollars?

Victoria, Australia
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9. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

I think if you have really large suitcases or lots of them, then it may be easier to travel in first. I'm not sure about the difference in actual comfort level of the seats... If there's not a great deal of difference in the price, then I'd say go first class..

Also - warning - the steps "up" to the trains are much higher in Belgium than in Paris, for some reason. It's often a good 2 or 3 steps needed to get up into the train, which can make the luggage schlepping a bit more of an effort. OTH - we found the locals to be so kind and helpful - we had many people help us. It was one of the nice surprises during our trip..

NorthWest
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10. Re: Need help - Paris to Brugge - what is best way to get there?

We are traveling to Brugges from Paris in May 2008. would you be willing to share what your experience ended up being when you did so just recently, and what you would recommend? Thank you so much