Bruges and Brussels from Paris

Old Oct 28th, 2013, 11:10 AM
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Bruges and Brussels from Paris

We arrive in Paris Feb. 5th. We plan to stay for 5 nights and then go to Belgium for 4, back to Paris for another 5 nights. We are also planning a few day trips while we are in Paris (we've been to Versailles, so Chartres, Reims, and maybe another town).

The question is, 2 nights in Brussels and 2 in Bruges, or 1 night in Brussels and 3 in Bruges? I've read some reviews that say Brussels is hardly worth it and others who say it is. And will we run out of things to see/do if we are in Bruges for 3 nights?
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Old Oct 28th, 2013, 11:17 AM
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And will we run out of things to see/do if we are in Bruges for 3 nights?>

Yes in the town itself but Bruges can ber a great base from which to hop to Gent and Antwerp both really neat towns for a day - Brussels has museums but yes many find it a very modern city versus the romantic lures of Bruges, Antwerp or Gent.
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Old Oct 28th, 2013, 11:48 AM
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I would say 2 nights in Brussels, 1 night in Bruges and 1 night in Lille.
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Old Oct 28th, 2013, 11:55 AM
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just returned from a holiday in Brussels and Bruges. Bruges was so much more fun. We spent one day in Brussels so we could catch the high speed train to Paris. We spent 2 1/2 days in Bruges. Bruges is so nice when the tour crowds leave. We had enough to do at an easy pace. We did not care at all for Brussels.
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Old Oct 28th, 2013, 12:01 PM
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Back in May of 2010, after a stay in Paris, we stayed one night in Brussels and three nights in Ghent, with a day trip to Bruges. FWIW, we much preferred Ghent to Bruges. Certainly, I wouldn't expect the same crowds in February, but Bruges was packed with tourists and more expensive. It was so packed, in fact, that we rented bikes and rode to Damme just to get away from the hoardes. Ghent just felt more "real" to us and less touristy, and it was just as pretty IMO. We didn't get a good feel for Brussels, as the weather was just awful. It certainly didn't strike me as charming as either Ghent or Bruges. I'll admit, too, that the number of people who spoke English in Ghent and Bruges made it easier on us than Brussels (I only speak a little French).
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Old Oct 28th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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Brussels has next to nothing to offer to many people, and a whole lot to many others. Don't go by what others said, look up in detail what there is by way of historic buildings, museums, modern architecture, music, and so on. After you have read an entire guidebook or its equivalent online, then evaluate as per your own tastes and habits. If the Manneken Pis, the Grand' Place and a waffle or two are all you want to experience, then half a day will be plenty. If you're a culture vulture you might spend a week.
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Old Oct 28th, 2013, 01:42 PM
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Everybody's posts just go to show that everybody has different ideas about these cities. It's all a question about which aspects appeal to you -- "picture postcard" perfection, "real city" activity, a combination of both...?

I, for example, love to see 'perfect' setting like Bruges but I become totally bored very fast when I feel trapped in a city that is 'just a museum' (in quotes because I know it isn't really true about Bruges, but it is often all that a lot of people see). Brussels has plenty of warts, which is what I like about it. It doesn't have a moment "when the tour crowds leave" because people enjoy the nightlife too.

But some people like to be all alone in a totally empty place...
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Old Oct 28th, 2013, 08:12 PM
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I love Brussels and think it has perhaps the best food in Europe. Bruges to me is a Disneyesque "fakish" tidied-up-for-tourists place, though it was lovely 30 years ago. These days, if heading north from Paris, I'd go to Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Delft, the Meuse Valley, Lille, Amsterdam and places outside it like Het Loo.
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Old Oct 28th, 2013, 08:44 PM
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I agree with StCirq. I was in Bruges last month, and while it was "postcard perfect," aside from the rain, it seemed too aware of itself as a tourist place. I was SO glad I had previously changed my booking to 2 nights instead of 3, which gave me more time in Paris. I haven't been to Ghent and Antwerp, so can't comment, but I've heard very good things about both.

I booked a first class ticket in advance on the Thalys site for the TGV from Brussels to Paris, and so glad I did! That was the most luxurious train experience ever, and included lunch with a small bottle of wine.
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Old Oct 28th, 2013, 09:41 PM
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Last May, I had one night in Brussels (not my first visit), two nights in Bruges, and then two more in Antwerp, with day trips to Ghent and Leuven. Yes, Bruges is very touristy and often I hate that - but I still loved the town. It rained part of my time there, and even my last day there in the rain, exploring with an umbrella, I had a great time.

Ghent is also really nice. I highly recommend at least a day trip there. It's only an hour by train from Bruges - and you'll pass through if you train from Brussels to Bruges. The station is probably still under construction. I'm not sure if there are storage lockers or not, but if so it would be easy to drop your bags there and explore Ghent for a few hours on the way between Bruges and Brussels.

I am not a foodie - so Brussels didn't do much for me. However, the Grand Place at night is very pretty, all lit up (I'm a photographer).
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Old Oct 29th, 2013, 10:37 AM
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With a Thalys ticket Paris-Nord to Brussels Midi you can add on for a few euros I believe the ABS or Al-Belgian-Stations fare where you can take any train from Bruseels to any station in Belgium within I think a 24-hour period - so if going to Brussels first then you could travel on any train to Bruges or Gent, etc for a pittance.
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Old Oct 30th, 2013, 12:16 PM
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kerouac mentions going to Lille - and to me that is a good suggestion - even if just for a few-hour look - dump your bags in a train-station locker and look around this unique often neglected city.

You can go between Paris and Bruges without going thru Brussels by taking a French TGV to Bruges Flandres station (not its Europa station) and then local trains from there to Bruges - taking about the same time as the Brussels route. www.voyages-sncf.com for Paris to Lille fares - in Lille just buy a ticket to Bruges - regional trains take no reservations and have a flat fare - unlike TGVs which mandate seat reservations and have a multi-tiered fare structure where walk ups pay a whole lot more than folks who may have booked online weeks in advance - ditto to Thalys trains via Brussels - www.thalys.com.
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