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Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

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Brookfield...
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Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

We are a group of 8 adults staying in Brussels in August 2012, 4 nights, then 2 nights in Paris, and 1 night back in Brussels. We would like to do a day trip to Brugge while we are there. Can anyone suggest the best way (and most cost efficient) for our group to go fm Brussels to Brugge for the a day and also from Brussels to Paris and back?

Also we are travelling from the US and I'm not sure what websites will let us purchase advance tickets with US addresses and credit cards.

I would appreciate your helpful comments.

Thank you in advance.

Brussels, Belgium
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1. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

You're best option is to take a train from Brussels to Bruges (about an hour journey). There are 3 big railway stations in Brussels : Noord (North), Centraal (Central) and Zuid (South). You can take a train to Bruges from each of these stations. For Paris , have a look on this site : http://www.tgv-europe.com/en/

Make sure to book well in advance for the train to Paris, otherwise you'll be paying much more. You can reach Paris in 1 hour and 22 minutes.

I don't think American credit cards will be a problem... The tickets to Bruges can be paid the day of travel itself (with cash).

Brussels, Belgium
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2. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

For Thalys, which has a fare structure similar to airlines, what makes the difference is when you book, which needs to be as soon as possible after tickets become available (3 months before departure). The cheaper tickets are limited for each train. However, these are also the least flexible, so you must bear in mind that you will be committed to the departure you select, and if anyone misses the train, tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.

If you can't get the cheaper fares on Thalys and don't want to pay the "standard" fare, the only alternative means of getting from Brussels to Paris is by bus: either Eurolines (www.eurolines.be) from the bus station next to Gare du Nord, to Gallieni; or Megabus (http://uk.megabus.com/megabuscom.aspx) from rue Cardinal Mercier, next to Gare Centrale, to Porte Maillot. The first takes 4 hrs, and prices start at about €9 (booking at least a month in advance) and the second 4 1/2 hrs, and prices start at 1.50 GBP (it's a British company) - although that price may apply only to a departure around midnight. I think Eurolines has 4-6 departures a day to Paris, and Megabus, 2.

For domestic trains to Brugge, on the other hand, it makes no difference to the price WHEN you buy the tickets, but when you travel, i.e. whether it is on a weekday or Sat/Sun. If you are doing this trip on a Saturday or Sunday, "weekend return" rate is €14.40. If you are doing it on a weekday, the standard return fare is €27 (so for 8, €216). Therefore the most cost-effective way to do it would be to buy 2 Belgian Railways Rail Passes, at €76 each (total €156). Each of these covers 10 trips to anywhere in Belgium, so if you used all 10 you would be paying €7.60 per single trip, €15.20 return; in your case, you will have 4 left over (= 16 trips: 8 x Brussels-Brugge and 8 x Brugge-Brussels) but as you can see it is still cheaper overall. Rail Pass can only be purchased at a Belgian station, not online.

Edited: 30 April 2012, 13:47
Brussels, Belgium
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3. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

Sorry, mistyped: €76 x 2 is of course €152. So if my calculations are correct (and I have to confess that they are not always), as a group you would be saving €64 over the normal weekday rate by using 2 Rail Passes.

See www.b-rail.be/nat/E/tarifs/passes/rail/

Edited: 30 April 2012, 13:51
Brookfield...
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4. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

Thanks so much for your suggestions. So, if I understand correctly, we can purchase 2 rail tickets (10 trips each) and each ticket can be used by more than one person. So we would pass the ticket from one person to the next when boarding the train?

Also, going from Brussels to Paris and back, would the best train stop be Midi in Brussels and Nord in Paris (we are not travelling from the airport in either location)?

I'm sorry, this is all very confusing to me. :o(

Brookfield...
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5. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

Thank you for your help.

It looks like we have to wait until 90 days before to book the train. I will give it a try (next week will be 90 days).

Nashville, TN
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6. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

For the trip to Paris, it would be Gare Du Midi (Brussels Zuid) to Paris Gare du Nord (Paris Nord). I've never used the 10 trip tickets so someone else will need to assist on their use.

Be careful on where you purchase the Thalys tickets to Paris. A number of sites are designed to kick you over to RailEurope if you enter the fact you are from the US. Rail Europe does not start selling Thalys tickets until 60 days out, does not always have the lowest fares and does not always have tickets available for all trains. In addition to this, they charge a very high delivery fee. It is best to avoid them if at all possible.

Others on this forum or on the train travel forum can advise you on where and how best to purchase the Brussels/Paris tickets.

Brookfield...
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7. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

Thanks to everyone who replied. It is 90 days from today so I will try and book using your suggestions. Much appreciated!

Brussels
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8. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

< we can purchase 2 rail tickets (10 trips each) and each ticket can be used by more than one person. So we would pass the ticket from one person to the next when boarding the train? >

A 10-trip Rail Pass looks like this flickr.com/photos/madefortvmovies/4971650969/

This is actually the cheaper Go Pass 10 for young people, but the €76 Rail Pass is the same except for the name.

You fill in one line for each person for each journey, following the example printed at the top on line 0.

Day - Date (day-month-year) - Departure station - Destination station

The example shows a journey on Friday 8th January 2010 from Charleroi to Namur.

If 3 people are making the same journey together, you would fill in the same details 3 times on 3 lines.

You must fill in the details of your journey on the card BEFORE you get on the train.

Brussels, Belgium
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9. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

Rail Pass is, as the name implies, a PASS, not a ticket. It is equivalent to 10 tickets for travel within Belgium and is presented in the form of a card with 10 blank lines for you to fill in each journey you use it for. You don't need to pass anything to anyone (you do not present tickets before boarding a train!), unless of course you each want to fill in the line for your "own" trip!

For example, if there were 3 of you going from Bruxelles-Central to Brugge today, you would fill in Friday 11/05/12 (yes, European-style) plus departure and arrival stations, on 3 successive lines of the pass, thus "using up" 3 trips. See b-rail.be/nat/…index.php

I presume the "booking" question only concerns Paris, since the Rail Pass can only be purchased at Belgian stations. You can purchase Thalys tickets directly from the train operator using www.thalys.com or http://www.b-europe.com/Travel (Belgian Railways being one of the members of the Thalys consortium).

Brussels, Belgium
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10. Re: Staying inBrussels for base site. Can anyone help?

Snap, Colin56!