COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Stay up to date with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.   Learn More >

Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Please help - train bookings are confusing me!

Please help - train bookings are confusing me!

Old Sep 1st, 2002, 10:03 AM
Posts: n/a
Please help - train bookings are confusing me!

Hello - my wife and I are travelling to Europe in October. We are flying in and out of London Heathrow (arrive Oct 4, depart Oct 19). Our accomodations are set for London, Paris and Brugge. However, sorting through the train options is proving to be a bit overwhelming. I would appreciate any assistance with helping us connect our travel "dots". Thank you!! Kevin

1. October 9 - Depart London for Paris


2. October 14 - Depart Paris for Brugge

TGV to Lille, then regular train Brugge or Thalys to Brusses, then regular train to Brugge? Do we purchase Selectpass, Europass, etc.?

3. October 18 - depart Brugge for London.

Regular train to Lilly then TGV to London or regular train to Brussels, Thalys to London? Again, which passes are correct?

We're normally pretty savvy travellers, but the route options on top of all the difference pass types is confusing.

Thanks in advance. Kevin

p.s. I've been searching previous posts on this subject which is how I determined the different routes, the big issue for me is determining which passes to purchase for the corresponding routes.
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 10:06 AM
Posts: n/a
Ther are so many different discounts possible on the Eurostar, to and from London via the channel tunnel that it is difficult to offer advice. But you need to think tickets, not passes.

Best wishes,

Old Sep 1st, 2002, 11:14 AM
Posts: n/a
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 11:40 AM
Posts: n/a

A few comments on your 3 train trips:

1) London to Paris on Eurostar:
Unfortunately, Eurostar UK won't let you book advance-purchase discount fares directly on their site unless you can provide a mailing address in the UK. You can either purchase the tickets at a markup from:
or try:
thogh I've never used them.

2) Paris to Bruges (French spelling for Brugge):
You can book tickets for this trip on:
Either route you describe works, Thalys via Brussels is a little faster. The trains on your travel dates have already been open for reservations for almost a month, so head to the site ASAP in order to grab a discount fare insofar as they are still available. PREPAY for your tickets and select FRANCE as country for pickup. You can then get your tickets at any train station or "Boutique SNCF" in France when you arrive (SNCF will not mail to the US/Canada).

3) Brugge to London:
You want to take a normal (intercity)train to Brussels-Midi, then the Eurostar to London. Book the Eurostar portion on the Belgian railways' web site:
Same arrangement as SNCF above - you pick up your tickets at the station in Brugge. The Brussels to Brugge portion cannot be booked ahead.

Finally, some general remarks:
- For comprehensive and user-friendly schedules throughout Europe, I recommend checking the Swiss Railways:

- Passes make no sense for your journey, neither Eurostar nor Thalys are covered by them.

Hope this helps,
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 11:49 AM
Posts: n/a
I have travelled similar route once. I am not sure whether budget would be a concern of yours as I was, the cheapest way I have tried is: London to Lille- Eurostar 7 days advance cheap return, from Lille Euro change train at Lille Flandres(about 5 minutes walk)TGV to Paris. Pairs TGV to Lille Flandres, change regular train to Brugge. Brugge regular train to Lille Flandres, change at Lille Euro Eurostar to London.
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 11:50 AM
Ben Haines
Posts: n/a
As Rex says, you need tickets for these, not a pass.

London to Paris: yes, Eurostar. Eurostar are making offers for cheap returns, sold only in Englnd, which presently cost much less than one-way tickets, so you want to buy a return for three days or so and junk the second half. There are offers just now in the Evening Standard newspaper. With a day return you cannot travel with a bag.

Paris to Brugge. The first of your two. The transfer at Lille Flanders is easy: there are no stairs. Going via Brussels is longer and costlier, and involves escalators. You cannot book the second train, from Lille, and TGV seats are many, so you might as well leave the whole booking till you are in Paris.

Brugge to London. The first of your two. Again, no point in going via Brussels. The route foes involve a transfer of some 400 yards from Lille Franders to Lille Europe station. A typical connection is Brugge 0831, Kortrijk 0912 to 0922, Lille Flanders 0951, Lille Europe 1036, London Waterloo 1139. Until 31 October, and ftrom Easter, you take just an hour longer on the more interesting route Brugge 0803, Ostend 0816 to 0845, catamaran, Dover 0945 to 1023, Faversham 1104 to 1108, London Victoria 1217. At Brugge you board at the front of the train. At Ostend you walk to the catamaran office, check in, and put your bag onto a transfer system. The vessel has a club class, with a very decent breakfast, and much quiet and good service: you can book it on boarding. On sailing into Dover you see the white cliffs and castle. At Dover Hoverport you collect your bag, and wheel it to a bus that runs to the station. At the station the ticket office staff are used to taking your bag up to the footbridge and down to your train. Your ticket is valid for two routes to London: that to Victoria takes you through better country than that to Charing Cross. For six euros extra you can transfer to first class, the more comfortable seats. At Faversham you just walk across the platform. At Victoria there are luggage trolleys on the platform. The cheap through ticket on this route, for 75 euros, is dsold only at the Easternmost window of Chating cross station in London: you need to buy it before you leave London. It is valid two months, so you need not determine your travel date as you fo for Eurostar.

Please write if I can help further. Welcome to Europe.

Ben Haines
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 12:01 PM
Posts: n/a
Thank you all for your comprehensive replies. The information is very helpful. Kevin
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 06:07 PM
Posts: n/a
As someone who lives in Brussels and travels quite a bit to Paris, Bruges (Brugge) and Lille, I recommend the Thalys+regular train to Brussels option over the TGV (Lille)/regular train. A few reasons:
1. Getting from the Thalys arrival tracks (numbers 3 to 6 at Brussels Gare du Midi) over to the main tracks for the train to Brugge takes 5 minutes at MOST. You do NOT have to contend with stairs--you go down a moving slanted walkway from the Thalys arrival track and then walk about two minutes over to the main tracks then take ONE short escalator up to your track.
2. The connections to Brugge from Brussels are frequent (2 per hour) more than 90% direct and run on the best and newest trains the Belgian rail system has to offer. That is not true of the trains from Lille to Brugge. Also, while there are some direct trains, but the majority require a train change, some up to 3 train changes! (Go to the site and under the timetable section, type in Lille to Brugge.) The trains from Lille to Brugge also tend to be older and less comfortable than the trains from Brussels to Brugge. Some of them offer only padded bench seats in second class and the first class sections are smaller and consequently more likely to be crowded. Also, due to major maintenance work, there have been--and probably will continue to be--some delays on the Lille to Brugge route. The major maintenance on the Brussels to Brugge route was done last year, so the ride is quick (50 minutes; one stop in Ghent then on to Brugge) and smooth.
3. You don't say how you plan to purchase tickets, but DON'T buy the tickets to Brugge from Brussels before you arrive in Europe. The fare from Brussels to Brugge can be as little as $13 round trip (second class).
A rail tip for ANYONE taking the trains in Belgium: if you are running late or the lines are long at the ticket office, you can buy your tickets on the train and pay only about a $1 penalty. All you have to do is inform the train staff (they speak English) for the train before you board (they get off the train at each stop and are easy to spot in their gray uniforms). Tell them you didn't have time to buy a ticket before hand and show them what car you plan to be on. I have done this many times when my schedule is tight. The conductor is always polite and friendly about selling me the ticket on the train (cash only as far as I know, though) and the fee is minimal. However, if you don't tell the staff before boarding, you can be socked with a heavy penalty.
Enjoy your trip and I'm glad you arrive in Brugge on a Monday, when the week-end crowds are gone. In Brugge, make sure to stop in at the Est Wijn (wine) bar and the Rock Fort restaurant.
BTilke (Brussels)
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 06:42 PM
Posts: n/a
BTilke - great information. Thank you for taking the time to share. I'm going to take your recommendation for the Paris to Brussels, to Bruge route. However, since this is my first time (and I'm feeling a little wimpy), I'm thinking I will purchase my tickets (at least those that I can purchase) in advance of our arrival. I want to get my bearings and for our next trip, I'll know exactly what to do.

Thanks again. Kevin
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 11:49 PM
Posts: n/a
One final bit. The final destination for the trains that stop in Brugge will be either Ostende or Knokke/Blankenberge. It doesn't matter whether you sit at the front, middle or back of the train (as long as you're in the right class), all cars stop at Ghent, then Brugge. The Knokke/Blankenberge train splits after Brugge, but that won't concern you.
Usually on the Brussels/Brugge train, someone comes through with a drinks and snacks cart--just sodas, sparkling water, beer, etc.
If you get to Brussels and would like to take a look at the Grand'Place before heading out to Brugge, you can store your luggage at the Gare du Midi. There are lockers, but there is also a regular (staffed) luggage storage place. After you come down the slanted walkway and head over to the main part of the station, you will see it on your right hand side, about 20 feet from the round information kiosk.
You can then either take the subway over or catch a cab (the cab ride to just outside the Grand'Place should cost you no more than $10). It is worth seeing if you've never been there before.
BTilke (Brussels)
Old Sep 2nd, 2002, 12:02 AM
Posts: n/a

If you book the Paris to Bruges trip on the SNCF site as I mentioned in my previous post, you will get the same prices as if you were in Europe at the time of purchase.

So you can have your cake and eat it...

Old Sep 2nd, 2002, 04:58 AM
Posts: n/a
Would it help to look into www.euraide ?? is it .de? or .com?
Old Sep 2nd, 2002, 05:14 AM
Geoff Hamer
Posts: n/a
October is a quiet time for travel in Europe and you should have no problem booking tickets when you get here. Trains are pretty frequent on these routes (at least every two hours) so that if one train is fully booked, there will be others to choose from. The option of a catamaran from Oostende to Dover will not be available in October - this service closes for the winter in September.
Old Sep 2nd, 2002, 07:51 AM
Posts: n/a

I respectfully disagree with your opinion of October being a quiet month for travel. It's actually very busy with normal business travel AND school holidays (most european countries have 1 week off sometime in October).

Anyway, if Kevin wants to get discounted fares on his trips (why wouldn't he?), he should book ASAP!

Old Jun 2nd, 2017, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 3
I am planning to go from Bruges to London by trains. Am looking into taking the IC train from Bruges to Bruxelles Midi, then transfer to Eurostar to London.
Has anyone make this transfer before? How do I get from Bruxelles Midi to the Eurostar track. I understand there are 47 minutes transfer time.
Thanks much!
dingzhin is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2017, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,712
Please start your own post as hitching onto a 15 year old post is confusing. Plus you'll likely get more responses.
historytraveler is online now  
Old Jun 2nd, 2017, 10:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,048
Eurostar leaves from Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid: you just go down to the main concourse and the Eurostar terminal is at one end. Bear in mind you do need to go through check-in and security for the Eurostar.

Signposting in the station is pretty good, but if you're in any doubt, here's a plan:
PatrickLondon is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2017, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,969
Many people have done this transfer. How else do you think massive number of people from the UK do this trip if they not flying or taking a boat?

IC arrival from Brugge and Eurostar departure are both in the SAME station but different tracks. The one complication noted above is that Eurostar requires check-in lead time then luggage security check as well as passport control.

47 min is more than enough to do this if you don't dilly dally in between. Go down to the main concourse. The map noted above is what you find AFTER you go down from the platform where the IC train from Brugge arrives at Brussels Midi. Note that the Eurostar leaves from platform 1 and 2. Your train from Brugge arrive at much higher platform numbers.
greg is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jun 4th, 2013 09:21 AM
Mar 9th, 2012 02:36 PM
Oct 21st, 2008 07:06 AM
Dec 30th, 2007 11:26 AM
Jun 10th, 2002 06:28 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information