traveling from Brussels to Provence

Apr 8th, 2013, 02:57 AM
  #1  
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traveling from Brussels to Provence

Hi All:

We will be in Brussels for a business conference the week of June 17 until June 20. We would then like to visit Provence. Does anyone have suggestions for the best way (fastest and cheapest) to get from Brussels to Provence (most likely staying near Avignon)? It looks too long to drive and not sure if it would be better to fly or take a train. We would be flying back to the US via Paris, so would take a train form Avignon to CDG.

Thanks!
Katie7 is offline  
Apr 8th, 2013, 03:42 AM
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A few years ago we took a really cheap Brussels Airlines flight from Brussels to Marseille, and then picked up a hire car at the airport, to drive north past Aix - really simple, easy flight. But I expect you will need to pay a bit for that fare at this point (ticket prices increase as you get closer to the travel date), and also given it's in the summer season in June. If you have some time, you could also catch the Thalys fast train from Brussels to Paris, then change stations to take the TGV fast train to Avignon. But once again at this late stage for booking, they will not be cheap fares, and will chew up an entire day in transit, I suspect. So biting the bullet on a direct air ticket might be easier in the end.
rosemaryoz is offline  
Apr 8th, 2013, 04:11 AM
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You can get a Thalys straight to Avignon; only just over 4 hours from Brussels.
Tulips is offline  
Apr 8th, 2013, 04:57 AM
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Well not a Thalys I believe but a TGV train that yes goes direct Brussels via Paris CDG Airport to southern France. www.voyagfes-sncf.com for fares and online discounted tickets that to guarantee you must book months early - as they are sold in very limited numbers - full fare would cost a lot lot more.

Much better IMO than taking a Thalys train to Paris-Nord station then the hassle of changing stations in Paris (to Gare dy Lyon) but like tulips says only every four hours or so. Also check www.tgv.com for fares and schedules.

If doing the Thalys to Paris and TGV to Avignon you have two separate fares and probably twice as expensive perhaps so the optimal way is the direct TGV train Brussels-Midi to Avignon TGV. If renting a car pick one up at Avignon TGV station.

For lots of great info on French trains I always spotlight these fab IMO sources - www.seat61.com - good info on online discount fares); www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. The early bird gets the worm so book those tickets very early.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 8th, 2013, 05:29 AM
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Train:
Brussels dp June 21st 7.05 - Avignon ar 11.44, 58 EUR, Tarif Prems, rapidly exhausted
http://www.voyages-sncf.com/

Planes:
June 20th
Brussels dp 17.10 - Lyon Satolas ar 18.40, Fares start at 60 EUR with 1 piece of checked in luggage
June 21st:
Brussels dp 19.45 - Lyon Satolas ar 21.15, Fares start at 65 EUR with 1 piece of checked in luggage
http://www.easyjet.com
Charleroi dp 18.45 - Marseille ar 20.30, Fares start at 85 EUR with 1 piece of checked in luggage
http://www.ryanair.com/
Strasbourg dp 13.25 - Montpellier ar 14.45, Fares start at 40 EUR
http://www.volotea.com/en
neckervd is offline  
Apr 8th, 2013, 06:53 AM
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There are PREMs available for direct trains from Brussels to Lyon on the 17th that take 3:45.

http://www.voyages-sncf.com/billet-t...=HZU#journey_4
tom18 is offline  
Apr 8th, 2013, 07:10 AM
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I see that Brussels-Avignon direct with Thalys is only on Saturdays in July and August - sorry, not much use for you!
Tulips is offline  
Apr 9th, 2013, 01:42 AM
  #8  
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Thanks for your help!
Katie7 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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There are PREMs available for direct trains from Brussels to Lyon on the 17th that take 3:45.>

And from Lyon then you can take a regional train direct to the center of Avignon instead of taking a TGV from Lyon to Avignon-TGV station a few miles outside of town - regional trains pretty much have a flat fare I believe and are cheaper than TGVs - check fares at sncf.com of course.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 10th, 2013, 02:06 AM
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Hi All:

We ended up choosing the train option from Brussels Midi to Avignon TGV, departing at 7:05 AM and arriving at 11:44 on 6/21. Going to CDG for our flight home: Avignon TGV to CDG2 TGV, departing at 17:51 on 6/27 and arriving at 21:02. Total price for two adults, $320 USD. Probably not the best price, but it seems reasonable and fits our schedule.

Thanks for your help and suggestions!
Katie7 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2013, 04:33 AM
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How did you book those tickets? Curious?
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 10th, 2013, 06:48 AM
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I tried sncf website, but was concerned that I couldn't read the French well enough not make a mistake, so clicked on the UK link in the sncf site to get English, which took me to the Rail Europe site, which I didn't want. Then got fustrated and went to the Rail Europe US site.
Katie7 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2013, 11:58 AM
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thanks katie - I wonder what the prices you saw on the sncf.cpom site were vs ones REurope booked. $320 total for 4 long train trips is about $80 per ride or about 58 euros - does not seem so bad to me even though the mantra is that RE charges exorbitant prices - RE is largely owned by the SNCF!
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 11th, 2013, 04:52 AM
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Hi PalenQ:

The prices were slightly less on the SNCF, but not enough to make me risk making a mistake in the French translation-maybe 10 euros or so.

My husband trained from Brussels to Amsterdam for business recently and paid about 50 euros for a much shorter ride, so we are happy with this price.

Thanks for help!
Katie7 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2013, 05:22 AM
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Is there a reason you didn't use the Belgian train website?
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 11th, 2013, 07:22 AM
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The prices were slightly less on the SNCF, but not enough to make me risk making a mistake in the French translation-maybe 10 euros or so.>

So the Fodor mantra that RailEurope always outrageously rips off folks is not always true? And it is not always or nearly always true - but folks who never investigate their pricing will hear someone else here say it and repeat it as fact.

Say it enough and others will repeat it as the gospel truth.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 11th, 2013, 03:29 PM
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Is there a reason you didn't use the Belgian train website?>

does trhe Belgian site give the same discounts as the French one?
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 12th, 2013, 12:41 PM
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does trhe Belgian site give the same discounts as the French one?>

does anyone know?

thanks in advance.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 12th, 2013, 12:50 PM
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>>>So the Fodor mantra that RailEurope always outrageously rips off folks is not always true? And it is not always or nearly always true - but folks who never investigate their pricing will hear someone else here say it and repeat it as fact.<<<

It's not only the RE mark-up, but also the fact they don't show all trains and prices. Additionally, using the trains websites of each country, you usually having the option of printing your own ticket. RailEurope says they have to mail you most tickets (which of course isn't true and is a way for them to tack on charges) and charges you an $18 mailing fee. So the person above would be paying the 10€ extra (about $13) and the $18 mailing fee so $31 more .

I priced some Thello tickets comparing Thello and RE and RE was $100 more.
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 16th, 2013, 01:45 AM
  #20  
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Hi kybourbon:

I didn't price tickets using the Belgian site, since we are traveling mostly in France.

Rail Europe does have a print your own ticket option, which I used, so didn't receive an additional charge for mailing.
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