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Lexma90 Sep 22nd, 2010 09:37 AM

Another Train Question - Brugge to Paris
After help from the Fodor's experts, I have purchased, through the Belgian website, tickets from Brugge to Paris via Brussels, on Thalys (I tried the line that runs via Lille, but it runs so infrequently, with such a long layover in Lille, that it's faster to go via Brussels). I printed out the tickets and the ticket purchase confirmation. I do not have, however, tickets that EXPLICITLY reference the Brugge - Brussels part of the journey.

The tickets themselves only reference the Thalys portion (Brussels-Paris), though there is a notation on the ticket "+ toute gare Belge."

My ticket confirmation states that my fare, which is called "Kid and Co ABS Comfort 2," because it's 2 adults and an 11yo kid, "Includes the fixed "Any Belgian Station" supplement allowing you to travel to and from any Belgian station via Bruxelles - Midi..." The confirmation recites both the Brugge-Bruxelles Midi train AND the Brussels Midi - Paris Nord portions of the trip, and says the price for the Brugge-Bruxelles Midi portion is "--" and the Brussels-Paris price is the full fare that I paid for all portions of the trip.

I'm relatively sure that we don't need to purchase any additional tickets/fares for the Brugge-Brussels part of our trip. Is that right? Do I need to pick up anything at the Brugge station, or do I just present the Thalys ticket in Brugge? Do I need to compost the tickets in Brugge?

DalaiLlama Sep 22nd, 2010 10:07 AM

Just take what you have to a station in Belgium - these "and any station in Belgium" tix are a promotional add-on, making it easy to travel once you're in Belgium, so you go and state at a trains station ticket counter how you want to use it and they'll fix you up.

PalenQ Sep 22nd, 2010 10:24 AM

(I tried the line that runs via Lille, but it runs so infrequently, with such a long layover in Lille, that it's faster to go via Brussels>

I have checked the Lille route many times and it takes almost exactly the same time as via Brussels - 2.5 hours - for the info of others who do not want to book far in advance and just show up in Bruges or Paris and buy a regular fare ticket that will be much cheaper than buying on the spot a Thalys ticket.

And there are at least hourly connections Paris-Nord to Lille-Flandres and Lille Flandres to Bruges.

You can travel on any train Brussels-Midi to Bruges, within the time frame - i believe 48 hours but may be less - Dolly i was under the impression you could just hop on any train once in Brussels but you are saying you must go to a ticket window, which slows things down a bit as well. I expect that you are correct and i was wrong!

Lexma90 Sep 22nd, 2010 10:38 AM

Yes, that's what I wanted to know - whether we need to go to a ticket counter.

Re Lille, I must have been searching in the wrong place, but no matter what I used (the Belgian site, SCNF, RailEurope, etc.), I only came up with trains that ran at 7:30 and 11:30 (or later or earlier, which we didn't want), and the 7:30 had a 1-hour connecting time in Lille. So I voted for leaving Brugge at 8:30, going through Brussels, and ending up in Paris at the same time the Lille-Paris train would have. And we were sure we want to be in Paris for lunch, so in this case, we don't need the extra flexibility that we usually prefer.

PalenQ Sep 22nd, 2010 10:43 AM

there is also a direct daily Thalys train Bruges to Paris i believe but it runs at weird unfriendly hours.

anyway the fare you got on the Thalys is no doubt cheaper than the route via Lille - fine for folks like you who know how to book in advance and snag the limited in number discounted online fares. Good choice IMO.

PalenQ Sep 22nd, 2010 11:06 AM described the ABS fare but does not indicate you must go to a ticket window - i think the conditions of use must be printed on whatever piece of paper or e-ticket you have for the ABS fare. Dolly is rarely IMO wrong however. Or to get a definitive answer IME call Byron at - IME of years of buying railpasses from him he will answer any question even if you already have bought your ducats - but still say you are contemplating buying a Thalys ticket and wonder how the ABS fare works in practice.

The "Any Belgian Station"("Toute gare belge" or TBG) fare enables you to extend your Thalys journey at minimal cost by changing to a train on the Belgian rail network, or to travel back to your Thalys departure station from any station in Belgium.

Travel on internal Belgian services is valid two days after the departure or arrival of the Thalys service. You may travel on internal Belgian rail network as from the day before your outward Thalys journey, or until the day after your return trip.

With the ABS fares, your international Thalys ticket is valid for 1 journey between any of the stations on the national Belgian network and one of the following stations: Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid, Antwerpen Berchem/Antwerpen Centraal or Liège-Guillemins.

PalenQ Sep 22nd, 2010 01:04 PM

Oddly enough a check of Paris-Nord to Bruges schedules on shows that the TGV-Lille-IC train to Bruges is often 8 minutes faster than the Thalys to Brussels and IC train to Bruges! 2:29 vs 2:37 - with a few Thalys links also 2:29 or so.

MLF611 Sep 22nd, 2010 01:30 PM

Have done ABS a few times. Didn't even think to stop in the ticket office. The conductors all accepted my Thalys ABS ticket as valid for the ride.

lennyba Sep 22nd, 2010 01:38 PM

Same experience as MLF. We just got on the inter-city Bruges to Brussels with our ABS (noted on a Eurostar ticket).

DalaiLlama Sep 22nd, 2010 01:57 PM

If it is a priority for you to be able to stay in your seat all the way from Bruges to Paris, then your only two options all day are the 06:11 (arr. 8:59) or the 17:50 (arr. 20:35) trains. They are Thalys all the way and go via Brussels. Even though it's Thalys all the way, these are not your fastest, but the most comfortable choices.

The other Thalys options begin with an IC (InterCity) train in Bruges, and in Brussels Midi (=South) you switch to the Thalys. There are 22 of those a day.

The Lille options are all at least three-hoppers, with a change in either Kortrijk (5 daily) or in Gent St. Pieters (2 daily), and another switch in Lille-Flanders where you pick up the TGV.

There are a couple variants, like one via Lille-Flanders then Lille-Europe, and a few really screwy ones that involve more switches.

That's about it - times are not necessarily faster via Brussels. Lots of them take 2:28, many take 2:37, some a bit longer. But with well over 30 choices daily you will certainly get there...

PalenQ Sep 22nd, 2010 06:16 PM

The Lille options are all at least three-hoppers, with a change in either Kortrijk (5 daily) or in Gent St. Pieters (2 daily), and another switch in Lille-Flanders where you pick up the TGV.>

Nope not true there are some with only one change and others with at most two changes. None go via Gent.

DalaiLlama Sep 22nd, 2010 09:58 PM

Lexma90 - you have plenty of choices via Gent St. Pieters and Lille daily if you wish to go that route.

PalenQ sez "...None go via Gent...". Ah - duelling trains...

Randomly chosen date: Sunday 24.10.2010 IC 505 lvg Bruges 05:58 arr. Gent St. Pieters 06:21, IC 706 lvg. G.S.P. 06.57 arr. Lille Flanders 07:58, TGV 7222 lvg L.F. 08:17 arr Paris-Nord 09:20

Randomly chosen weekday 22.10.2010 (Friday):

On M-F an IC leaves Br. at 04:51 for Gent St .P. where you change to another IC for Lille Flandres where you hop on the TGV to Paris Nord, arr. at 08:02

M-F another leaves Bruges at 06:18 also via G.S.P. and L.F. arr Paris 09:32

M-F another leaves Bruges at 08:19 also via G.S.P. and L.F. arr Paris 11:02

M-F another leaves Bruges at 10:19 also via G.S.P. and L.F. arr Paris 13:02

M-F another leaves Bruges at 12:19 also via G.S.P. and L.F. arr Paris 16:02

M-F another leaves Bruges at 13:19 also via G.S.P. and L.F. arr Paris 16:32

M-F another leaves Bruges at 14:19 also via G.S.P. and L.F. arr Paris 17:02

M-F another leaves Bruges at 16:19 also via G.S.P. and L.F. arr Paris 19:32

M-F another leaves Bruges at 17:19 also via G.S.P. and L.F./L.Europe arr Paris 21:11

M-F another leaves Bruges at 18:19 also via G.S.P. and L.F. arr Paris 22:02

(I hope I typed those numbers right - check me, I'm a lousy typist and lousy with numbers...).

Then there are the three-hoppers via Kortrijk

But you're right, there is one a day that I see go with only one change from Bruges via Lille Flanders to Paris, on M-F there is an IC 815 lvg Bruges at 15:34 that only requires one change, in Lille Flanders to the TGV 7072. So that's a two-hopper in my book. Not in yours?

Two changes en route make it a three-hopper, no? That's a technical term, sanctioned by the EU's Railway Commission, as you undoubtedly know, right? ;-)

Lexma90 Sep 23rd, 2010 06:57 AM

Now, now, people. I love the detail of information that I get on Fodor's, but I've already purchased the tickets - see my original post.

Re going through Bruges, no, we didn't need to stay in our seats the entire way, but I also didn't want to have to change trains twice (we're not very expert at trains in Europe) and definitely didn't want to catch a train ANYWHERE at 6 am. So the route through Brussels fit our interests in getting to Paris for lunch, without having to catch the train in Brugge too early in the day or sit in Lille for an hour. The prices were pretty good. So the route I purchased works for us.

And bottom line, it sounds like we can get right on the train in Brugge, though being a worrier, I'll probably ask someone at a ticket counter there, just to be sure.

Now, if you could only do something about the fact that I learned yesterday that the Groeninge Museum will be closed when we're in Brugge, for installation of a new exhibit/show...

PalenQ Sep 23rd, 2010 07:08 AM

Lexma90 - yes you have your information but others read these posts and myself i like to learn as much as i can about these esoteric to many questions like Dolly and me are batting around. So you have your info. Now let us have our fun and perhaps others will learn about the nuances of ABS tickets and the routes to Bruges, etc. Threads on Fodor's are not personal ones and there are many others perhaps wanting to know info i know and get from such an expert as Dolly.

Very respectively and sincerely

Now to check out Dolly's info - looking for what i thought were every two hour Paris-Lille-Bruges links with only one change of train. But schedules change and what may have been true last time i researched it may no longer be so.

And yes if it were me i would also just go to the ticket window and be sure i could board any train to Brussels without formality.

DalaiLlama Sep 23rd, 2010 07:09 AM

I know, I know - and good for you to have your schedule firmed up, but other people take note of these things for their own future reference, so we use your thread to have our way with disseminating competing factoids within the scope of the freedom of information act ;-)

I know you understand...

Sorry about the museum closure - these are some of the worst words in the European traveller's vocabulary: Geschlossen, fermé, chiuso, cerrado, in restauro, Kein Zugang, Streik, sciopero, grève, Stau, card rejected, transaction cancelled...

GeoffHamer Sep 23rd, 2010 07:53 AM

To put the record straight, the direct route from Brugge to Lille is via Kortrijk: 83 km versus 112 km via Gent. If you go via Gent, the fare will be higher.
On both routes, trains run every hour, but the journey via Gent is longer. For example, leaving Brugge at 1019 via Gent, you arrive in Lille Flandres at 1154. Via Kortrijk, you leave Brugge at 1034 to get to Lille at 1154 (it's the same train from Gent via Kortrijk to Lille).

PalenQ Sep 23rd, 2010 08:24 AM shows no trains via Gent and Geoff has it right - the most direct route goes via a change of trains at Kortrijk and about every 2 hours or so there is only one change involved - at Lille Flandres

and these trains do not go via Gent.

Last night i said no via Gent and i was referring to the most direct, quickest and cheapest route via Lille - you could go via Gent and you could go via Antwerp, etc but that is a detour.

PalenQ Sep 23rd, 2010 09:28 AM

To clarify there is only one change on some trains at Lille-Flandres but on say 2/3 rds of trains you also must change in Kortrijk - a small station where the tracks bifurcate with one going to Brussels and the other to Bruges - so there are often 2 changes but if you plan right one change.

And i suggest that that change in Kortrijk is a whole lot simpler than in hectic Brussels-Midi (a k a Zuid or South station) - where Thalys comes in to a dedicated part of the huge station and then you have to find your right track for Bruges amongst dozens - the info is posted OK but still it may flummox novice travelers a bit.

But price should dictate what route you take IMO - via Brussels or via Lille/Kortrijk

You can nab PREM fares - deep discounted fares for Paris to Lille on that would make that route as cheap perhaps as any Thalys deep discounted fare - not sure but suspect so.

PalenQ Sep 23rd, 2010 01:03 PM

Lille has two big stations - Lille Flandres for domestic trains largely and those to Belgium and Lille Europe - the Eurostar International station for trains to London (and Brussels) - if one searches for Lille Europe they will likely find few if any trains to Bruges - actually the two stations are a stone's throw - a long stone's throw apart - bout a 5 minute stroll on a dedicated path.

So one wanting to go say from London to Bruges would get off at Lille-Europa and then walk the .25 mile or so to nearby Lille Flandres.

PalenQ Sep 24th, 2010 06:55 AM

And folks say wanting to go from Provence say Avignon to Bruges can hop a direct TGV that in 4 hours will take them to Lille-Europe station - a few minute walk to Lille-Flandres and in another hour or so they are in Bruges - no transiting Paris to boot.

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