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Train from Paris to Bruges for clueless 77 year old?

Train from Paris to Bruges for clueless 77 year old?

Old Feb 17th, 2020, 05:35 AM
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Train from Paris to Bruges for clueless 77 year old?

Please give step by step advice for the easiest way to take a train from Paris to Bruges for a 77 year old. Need advice from the beginning of the train travel, for the easiest way and how to buy tickets, the differences in the different classes of tickets offered, how to navigate train stations, how to find specific trains, how to find your assigned car, are there any rules to know, are there places to check in like an airport or do you just board the train, anything else that is important to know.
Thank you.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by bcsa View Post
Please give step by step advice for the easiest way to take a train from Paris to Bruges for a 77 year old. Need advice from the beginning of the train travel, for the easiest way and how to buy tickets, the differences in the different classes of tickets offered, how to navigate train stations, how to find specific trains, how to find your assigned car, are there any rules to know, are there places to check in like an airport or do you just board the train, anything else that is important to know.
Thank you.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started at least-there are many people on this forum who can help you so feel free to just ask more questions as you go through the process.

A great place to get many of your questions answered about train travel in general is on the site "the man in seat 61" which will fill you in on just about everything you need to know such as your questions about the differences in the different classes of tickets offered, how to navigate train stations, how to find specific trains, how to find your assigned car, etc.

Here is a link that takes you to page about train travel originating in Paris:

https://www.seat61.com/international...from-Paris.htm

One of the basic things about train travel from Paris is that there are multiple train stations. To go to Bruges, Belgium (I assume you mean Bruges, Belgium many times spelled Brugges), you would leave from Paris Gare du Nord. When you look at tickets be aware there is also a Bruges France outside of Bordeaux. You will need to make 1 change minimum most commonly at the Bruxelles-Midi station.

I recommend to most of my US friends who aren't that familiar with buying train tickets in Europe to use trainline.com. The interface is a little easier to use I think than the French railway site.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 08:56 AM
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Hi bcsa, the high-speed train between France and Belgium is called Thalys. It's best to buy the tickets on their own website www.thalys.com.
From Paris to Brussels-Midi is direct. At Brussels Midi you need to change trains to Brugge/Bruges. The local name for the city is Brugge, but the French Bruges is also used.
There are two classes; Comfort 1 (first class) and Comfort 2 (second class). Second class is absolutely fine, but sometimes the price difference with first is small, and may be worth it.
Here is a sample of different fares on a day in March.



You can buy a ticket straight to Brugge (sometimes this is called the 'Any Belgian Station' option). You have 11 minutes to change from Thalys to the Brugge train in Brussels-Midi.
That should be enough time, but ask someone on the train to help you find the right train. There will most likely be people who are familiar with the station and who can help you.
The platform where your Paris train arrives and where your Brugge train departs, is noted on the Thalys site. ie you arrive on Platform 8, and your next train goes from platform 5.

Book your ticket asap, as prices go up. Also, from April 1st you can no longer book a through ticket to Brugge on the Thalys site.
This warning just popped up when I was checking this; any tickets booked from Paris to Brugge (or any other Belgian station) on Thalys that you book now, will be honoured, but from April 1st you will have to book a separate ticket for the Brussels - Brugge part of your trip.



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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 09:04 AM
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On your ticket there will be the carriage number and the seat number for the Thalys.
There is no seat number on the local Brussels - Brugge train; just sit anywhere. There are normally plenty of free seats unless it's rush hour.

There is no airline style check-in; you just to to the platform with your ticket.

When changing trains in Brussels for Brugge; the train does not stop for a long time, make sure you are ready to get off in Brussels, since the Thalys will continue on to Antwerp and Amsterdam.

Travel light and ask people for help if you are not sure where you need to go. My mother-in-law is well into her 80s, and she travels by train often. She always asks someone on the train to help her with her small suitcase; it's never a problem, people are happy to help.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 09:11 AM
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I just noticed on the example I gave you, that they have 2 different prices for the same 17:25 train; I have no idea why that is. The example was for March 19.
Train fares are often baffling; big differences in price between one train or the next. Sometimes first class is even cheaper than second.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 11:50 AM
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Hi bcsa, here is a map of Bruxelles-Midi station. It shows where the Thalys trains stop and where it is in relation to other platforms:

Station_plan_Brussels-Midi_version_2016_August.pdf

It is a well-lit station and most things are clearly signposted so don't worry about finding the platform, there are plenty of people around to ask. I also link here a simple, useful guide to catching trains in Bruxelles-Midi:

https://showmethejourney.com/train-s...di-brusselzuid

https://showmethejourney.com/blog/de...s-midi-station

Good luck!

Lavandula
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 02:15 PM
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Thank you ALL so very much! Those suggestions are very helpful!!! Is it possible to reserve forward facing seats?
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 02:46 PM
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According to the man in seat 61, no. I haven't made that particular journey but I assume that is still the case:

https://www.seat61.com/thalys.htm

Seats facing forwards...

"Thalys trains are double-ended, with a power car & driving cab at both ends. The train could enter service either way round, so it's not possible to specify forward-facing seats on Thalys as the reservation system doesn't know which seats will face which way. But this is not a big deal on a smooth-riding train. Indeed, for a couple or a family, face-to-face seats around a table for 4 or a table for 2 are the best and most convivial option."

It does looks like you can select a preference though for things like aisle or window, table etc.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 02:48 PM
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I am not sure if you can book a forward facing seat in the Thalys as trains can go in either direction and the seats are fixed; you definitely can't make seat reservations in the domestic trains (i.e. the train from Brussels to Bruges). But there will usually be seats available on those trains anyway so you will have some flexibility there. If you are concerned about the domestic train then spring for first class as there will be fewer people and thus more selection of seating.

A strategy for the Thalys might be to book a seat at a table (two forward, two rear-facing), and if other passengers come to occupy those seats, ask if you can swap.

Lavandula

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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 04:46 PM
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Thank you for all input that is very helpful!
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 08:26 PM
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I'm posting the Thalys layout here, with the remark that usually Coach 1, 1st class, is nearest to the platform at Gare du Nord, because they figure passengers for comfort 1 don't want to walk that far (thalys trains are quite long).

All this is out of the window if there are two linked trains, one for Cologne and one for Amsterdam.

But the odds are a bit better if you keep that in mind while booking a specific seat Memento_Rames_EN.pdf

Whatever you do, don't book those 1st class seats in the Thalys Bar


Also good to know is that if you travel 1st class on Thalys you have access to the Thalys Business Lounge at stations. These are very nice. In 1st class (now called "premium", the former "comfort 1") they also serve you pretty good food if you travel around lunch, or in the afternoon

Last edited by menachem; Feb 17th, 2020 at 08:33 PM.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 10:54 PM
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Just to clarify; if you are traveling after April 1st, you have to book your ticket Paris - Brussel-Midi and your ticket Brussel-Midi - Brugge separately.
The local train can be booked on https://www.belgiantrain.be/en
There is no advantage booking far ahead, prices are fixed. You do not book a specific train; you can take any train on that route on that day. There are regular trains, you don't have to stress about missing a connection.
Book online and print your ticket to show if asked.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Tulips View Post
Just to clarify; if you are traveling after April 1st, you have to book your ticket Paris - Brussel-Midi and your ticket Brussel-Midi - Brugge separately.
The local train can be booked on https://www.belgiantrain.be/en
There is no advantage booking far ahead, prices are fixed. You do not book a specific train; you can take any train on that route on that day. There are regular trains, you don't have to stress about missing a connection.
Book online and print your ticket to show if asked.
Also, if you do travel premium on Thalys and you want to take longer, there's the Thalys lounge at Bruxelles Midi to have (stress) free coffee and a snack and a comfortable chair.
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Old Feb 18th, 2020, 01:00 PM
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Thank you all once again for all of the great help, suggestions, knowledgeable input and links!
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Old Mar 1st, 2020, 02:04 PM
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Lavandula, thanks so much from me too! We're doing the reverse in September, Bruges-Paris, but the print-out and links of Brussels Midi we shall use, as we will be going through there in the beginning and end of our trip -- from airport to Bruges, then finally Bruges to Paris for return flight! We'll absorb the add'l ticket/cost after April, don't even have our flights yet! I am likely to reach out to you later in the summer for dining recommendations in Belgium!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2020, 12:01 PM
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Hi aliced, you're welcome although it was a group answer I don't know if I can be helpful with restaurants as I'm not in Belgium but will do my best. There are a few old stalwarts but some of the good ones have closed for business recently. Menachem and Tulips will have some names for sure, and I can help with areas where there are restaurants.

Lavandula
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