I am trying to purchase train tickets from Brussels to Paris, and taking advantage of the lower fares that purchasing in advance allows. I have hit a snag in our plans, which is why I am writing to seek advice.
The original plan:
Arrive in Brussels on a Wednesday 9:00 am (flying from JFK, already booked). See some of Brussels in the afternoon,
Thursday day trip to Bruges
Friday day trip to Ghent
Saturday leave on an 8:45 am train (Thalys) which arrives in Paris around 10:10 am. We have a tour of Versailles booked for 1:45 pm. The Thalys train arrives at Gare du Nord, we would have to take the metro to the Odeon stop and then walk 350 m to our hotel with our luggage.
Here is where I hit the snag. Thalys tickets for that Saturday are not on sale yet, and its unknown when they will be (there are tickets for Friday, and for Monday and Tuesday already on sale. I contacted Thalys and was told that they are not available because of possible line maintenance and that at a later date they will announce which train routes will be operating and open up the sales for tickets. This makes me nervous and has me considering alternative plans. These are my options:
a) Take a TGV train from Brussels to Paris. The number one concern here is that it is not a direct train. We would arrive in Lille Europe station and have to transfer to Lille Flandres. We would have 20 minutes to do this, but we will be carrying luggage. This journey is also longer. Question here is how difficult is this transfer?
b) Take an evening train on Friday night on the Thalys. Since we are cutting a night from Belgim we would book the train that leaves at 8:15 and arrives at 9:40 pm. Concerns with this plan: 1) The Odeon route stops service at 10:15 (you get this announcement when you check the routes). Will there be sufficient time to hop on a train on this route with a 9:40 pm arrival at Gare du Nord to the Odeon metro stop? I would imagine so, but I ask just in case, because we would have to purchase the Navigo Easy cards and load them before trying to get on the Metro. In addition, is it safe to be walking around with luggage at around 10 pm? The hotel is in the 6th arrondisment, 350 m from the Metro stop. Or would it be better to take a taxi (or Uber) to the hotel. If so, how easy is this from Gare du Nord? We would need two as there are six of us. Doing this plan would mean switching the type of room we have booked in our hotel, but that would be OK, and I have made the reservation as a back up just in case. With this plan we would see Ghent on arrival day (Wednesday afternoon), Bruges on Thursday and leave Brussels for Friday.
For reference 4/6 of six people have already been to Paris, our two teens have not. When husband and I visited, we went everywhere on the Metro. With Plan A we would be spending 4 nights in Paris, with plan B, 5.
Can the experts here comment on which plan is better? Thanks in advance.