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Amsterdam to Paris -- local trains?

My boyfriend and I are traveling in mid-May to Amsterdam and Paris. We will be staying in each city for approximately 6 days. We've left two nights in between to meander somehow from Amsterdam to Paris, perhaps stopping in some less touristy spots along the way.

Is it possible (and/or wise) to take local domestic trains from Amsterdam to Paris? (I know we could take the Thalys for a straight shot.) It looks like this is doable within the Netherlands, but I can't figure out whether we could then get through Belgium and on to Paris. And would that be too lengthy or costly?

Are there any particular towns/cities in the Netherlands or northern France we may want to see within that kind of itinerary? We were considering Rotterdam for its modern architecture, or Utrecht for being a college town. But we're open to suggestions.

Thanks!

Posted by
16835 posts

Might throw Antwerp, Ghent, and Brugge into the mix.

Posted by
3683 posts

Rotterdam would be a bit of a detour' but the city is interesting for its harbour, in the top three world-wide, and for its experimental architecture in the wake of WWII bombing.

Posted by
27752 posts

Rotterdam isn't so much of a detour as you will be going straight through, much as with Antwerpen.

Utrecht is best done as a short hop from Amsterdam. It is very close.

It can be done avoiding Thalys and TGV in a little under 9 hours (as opposed to under 3 and a half straight through on the high speed Thalys) of train time by using the InterCity (former International) to Antwerpen, then a Belgian InterCity to Lille Flandres station in Lille. From Lille it is a TER (French regional train) to Amiens and then a SNCF national train from Abbeville into Paris Gare du Nord (the same station as the Thalys. You can shave off half an hour by making a 4th connection.

Is 9 hours OK with you, or is that what you meant by "too lengthy"?

Posted by
16835 posts

Shouldn't be too difficult. I just used www.bahn.com and checked the box "all without ICE", got Amsterdam to Rotterdam to Antwerp to Lille (Flanders) to Amiens to Paris (Nord). All regional trains. Amiens has nice Gothic Cathedral, so that might be a good stop as well.

Posted by
27752 posts

All of the places mentioned are, to one degree or another, on the tourist trail. Less touristy isn't easy, and often less touristy means that there are few or no attractions for tourists.

You could go via Lens, for example, but you may be the only ones there. Just you and the slurry pipe.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks Sam and Nigel. These are both very helpful. And no I don't 9 hours is too much, since we're going to be breaking it up over two days.

Posted by
8889 posts

Are you actually trying to avoid High Speed trains, or just want somewhere to stop off en route?

If it is the latter, the obvious place is Brugge for one or 2 nights. Brussels is worth at least a day. In the Netherlands, I like Delft, plus other small towns. Not Rotterdam, it was destroyed in WW2 and has few old buildings.
In Belgium, there is Antwerp or Ghent. In France, Lille is also worth a few hours wandering around.
If you are into WW1, there are all the battlefields on the French / Belgian border; Ieper (Ypres) and surrounding areas. But this needs a car - they fought in "Flanders Field", not in the towns.

If you actually want to avoid High Speed trains (I can't think why), you would have to do it in many stages:
Amsterdam - Rotterdam, Rotterdam - Antwerp, Antwerp - Brussels, Brussels - Lille and Finally Lille - Paris. In each case you need to specifically avoid TGV/Thalys trains, which makes you journey a lot slower. But why?

If you just want to call in at (say) Brugge, you get the Thalys to Brussels, then a Belgian InterCity to Brugge. Then 1 or 2 days later, backtrack to Brussels and get a High Speed train (TGV or Thalys) Brussels to Paris.

Posted by
5 posts

This Bahn website is very helpful. If we were to do the Amsterdam-Antwerp-Lille-Amiens-Paris itinerary, do we book all of them ahead of time? How far in advance?

Posted by
5 posts

Chris F -- Since we'll be spending almost all of our trip in Amsterdam and Paris, we were hoping to see a range of places during the trip in-between.

Posted by
27752 posts

None of the trains mentioned on that routing - excluding the Thalys and TGV - require or allow reservations. TER won't, Belgian trains of any sort don't, neither do Dutch trains. It is possible that the last leg the SNCF inter regional may - I don't know - but they won't be required even if they are allowed. You can get those tickets the day of travel. There's not a limit, and unless somebody's having a special, the price doesn't change.

Posted by
16835 posts

The Amiens to Paris leg has some savings for advance nonrefundable purchase. 20 euro Prems fare for two vs 45.60 euro full fare for two.