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Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

Saint Paul...
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Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

Greetings!

We have decided to attempt taking the Thalys TGV from Paris/Nord to Amsterdam in May.

- We will each have one 21-inch carryon bag.

- We are staying on rue de L'Exposition in the 7th.

- The train I would like to book leaves at 8:25a.

- I have decided to hire a taxi to take us to Nord because I don't want to deal with the Metro at rush hour and with luggage.

- Rome2Rio.com says to allow about 20-25 minutes from our location in the 7th to Nord.

- We are not familiar with Nord/never been there.

Questions:

1) If the train leaves at 8:25, what time do you recommend we tell the taxi to pick us up? Is 7a OK?

2) Does Nord have cafes? Just asking - I would have no problem waiting there for an hour and a half, if I can just get some coffee and have access to a restroom.

3) The reviews of Nord on TA are pretty discouraging. Is it really that awful? Should I just make sure I bring wipes and t.p. or are the restrooms ok for .50 Euro?

4) Do you know if we have to go thru passport control if we are going to Amsterdam? Looks like that is the case for London, but not for Amsterdam?

5) If we miss our train, are the chances pretty good that we could get on another one that day? Seems like they run every hour throughout the day?

As you can see, I totally don't know what to expect!

Any advice will be appreciated!!!

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Tampa, Florida
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1. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

1) you could have the taxi collect you at 7:30 and have no issues -- there's no ticket or passport check; you just validate your ticket before you board and then you board.

2) Yes, plenty of cafes and restaurants.

3) utter hogwash. The reason you pay €0,50 is because there's a live attendant in the toilets, keeping things clean, neat and stocked.

4) France and the Netherlands are both in the Schengen region, so no passport control. Obviously as a non-EU citizen you'll need to carry your passport just in case they should ask you for it, but this is not common.

5) depends on what sort of fare you purchased. Some are fully refundable, some are not, some have refund restrictions...

There's absolutely no reason to expect that you'd miss your train. It's one of the easiest modes of transport there is.

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

1. If the train leaves at 08.25, there is little point in being at Gare du Nord any earlier than 08.00. The departure boards will not show the train's platform until about 20 minutes before departure. Maybe leave around 07.15.

2. Yes, there is a cafe in the mainline concourse.

3. I have not used the toilets at Gare du Nord, but it is always a good idea to have some toilet paper (or tissues) in France. Many public toilets do not have a supply.

4. France and The Netherlands are both in the European Schengen area, so there is no routine passport control. However, you should have your passports handy, as there can be spot checks.

5. If you miss your train, discounted advance purchase tickets are worthless. You will have to buy new tickets at walk-up prices, and it is possible that the next train (or even the next few trains) will be sold out.

Tampa, Florida
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3. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

crisscrossed with Nick --

because it's a major international station, the toilets are manned, clean, and well-stocked. I'd be shocked to hear that anyone needed tissue.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

As I said, I have not tried them myself. I agree it would be surprising if toilets were not in good condition at a major train station.

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

Thalys tickets are for a particular seat at a particular time; if you miss the train your ticket is forfeit just like it would be if you missed a plane. Some tickets can be exchanged; thsoe bought early for less money cannot. You could probably buy another Thalys ticket that day but they could be sold out. If you buy your Thalys tickets 3 mos in advance the cost is about a third that of tickets bought close to the time of travel.

There is nothing wrong with Nord. Americans have little train experience and the oddest idea about train travel; generally the train systems and stations in France are far superior. The toilets at Nord are clean and well maintained. I have used them many times and never found them lacking in any way. There are coffee shops in the area in front of the platforms, so you can easily grab a croissant and coffee and wait for your train if you are too early.

I would aim for 8 am arrival since you are new to the station. The Thalys has been on a platform about in the middle when we have taken it. It will be clearly signed on the big boards and also on the signs at the head of each platform.

Because your ticket is probably a print at home ticket with a specific seat and time, you don't need to compost.

London, UK
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6. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

Over the years I have spent far too long having to hang around in Gare du Nord. While it is not my favourite place, neither is it frihtening and the toilets are perfectly fine. Havin said that there is no point in getting there before 8.00, which would be before the worst of the rush hour. In case the reference to compost by Janet causes confusion, this is the process of date stamping a ticket in one of the yellow machines at the entrance to the platform that is required for most non-home printed tickets.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

I would also locate the train number on your ticket. I find it much easier to locate my train on the departure boards this way than looking at destinations because this train (like most) will make several stops.

Victoria, Canada
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8. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

I'd get there by 7'45 so I could look around and buy snacks for the train.. and a nice big coffee to take on.. I have never found anything you can get on a train worth buying. I have tried many times.. but its always bleh!

Saint Paul...
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9. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

Thank you all so much for the input! You know how it is... Hard to imagine what it will all be like and how it will come together before you actually experience it!

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Advice re: Paris-Amsterdam on Thalys from Gare du Nord

good idea about train food -- you can buy sandwiches and such from the shops on the platform -- not maybe as good as a picnic you assemble at home but given the hour, running out to a regular bakery is probably not feasible and you can get drinks, sandwiches, cookies etc at the kiosks on the platform to eat on the train.