Day trip to Brussels from Paris worth it?

Is a day trip to Brussels from Paris worthwhile? We're exploring day trip options besides Versailles and Normandy, and Brussels was the closest city we found. Thanks!

Posted by Karen
Sacramento, CA, USA
31 posts

We didn't stop in Brussels except to change trains - my husband had been there before and didn't love it. But if you are looking for alternative trips here are two suggestions: We went to Paris in March and took two day trips - one to Chartres and one to Bruges. Both were fantastic and I would highly recommend them. We wished we had more time in Bruges, but don't regret going. Chartres is very doable in one day. Both were easily accessible by train, and walking distance to the main town from the train station on arrival. The walking tour of Chartres in the RS Paris book is wonderful!

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
499 posts

There may be better alternatives, but I enjoyed Brussels. You can take Eurostar there. We found the "Atomium" to be of interest as well. French fries and beer are also good.

Posted by Nancy
Saint Louis, MO
13 posts

Thanks, Jim! Could you suggest any alternatives? I appreciate your help.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2193 posts

Yes, Brussels is worthwhile, and Luxembourg City is just 2 hours from Paris. It's super compact and beautiful...would make a great daytrip. Check it out online.

Posted by Ann
DR and Atlanta
131 posts

If you get to Brussels their is a music museum that's fun. You get headphones and when you step in front of the instruments they play. It's in a very cool building. There also is a Magritte Museum. Mussels and Belgium Waffles with strawberries are a treat. P
I regret I didn't daytrip to Giverny to see Monets Waterlilys. I'd go there before Brussels. I think it's easy to get to by train.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1595 posts

Nancy, without knowing more, it's impossible to say whether a day-trip to Brussels is "worthwhile" - worthwhile compared to what? Have you already been to all the other high-priority day-trip destinations nearby, or would a day-trip to Brussels come at the expense of missing something else (say, Mont St Michel or the Loire Valley)? Compared to a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, of course, I'd say Brussels is great. But if you only have a short time in France and limited options to see other places nearby, I'd skip Brussels in favor of plenty of other destinations. It's OK, but I'd certainly take a day in Normandy over Brussels.

Posted by George
655 posts

Difficult to say without knowing your other options but if you have the time, I would consider Bruges.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
1392 posts

You didn't even hint whether you are desperate to add another country to your list. There are dozens of terrific day trips from Paris-and most of them are much shorter than Normandy, which is often described here (I agree) as a bad idea without an overnight. Have you considered Giverney, Chartres, Fontainebleau, Metz, Lille, Chantilly, the list goes on. BTW, tell me that you've been to the Parc Monceau, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, the Musee du Quai Branley, the Parc Floral and the Chateau de Vincennes, then we'll talk about day trips!

Posted by Nancy
Saint Louis, MO
13 posts

Thanks to all for your help! I have never been to Paris, but my daughter has traveled throughout France. We will be in Paris for a full week. We planned a day trip to Versailles. I got a lot of feedback that a one day trip to Normandy was going to be tough, so I wanted to check alternatives. Yes, I'd love to visit another country, but I don't want to waste time I could be in Paris on collecting a passport stamp, if you get my drift.
Thanks again to all for your assistance. Your insight is very helpful!

Posted by Nancy
Saint Louis, MO
13 posts

OK! I can see I seriously underestimated the amount of fabulous things to do in Paris. (I'm reading Rick's guide book now.) Thanks again to all who posted. You saved me from some serious mistakes. Happy travels :)

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1595 posts

Still need more info. "We will be in Paris for a full week." Great. Are you going to (or have you ever been to) anyplace else in France (or Europe, for that matter)? Is your week in Paris your entire trip, or part of a wider travel experience? Do you expect to go back anytime soon, or is this "it" for the foreseeable future? And how many full days do you really have in Paris - not counting arrival or departure days? It's true, you don't really have a decent Normandy experience as a day trip (that doesn't mean it's not worth going to Normandy if you have a full week in Paris - that's a more complicated question). There are lots of other side-trips from Paris (Reims, the Loire Valley, and others) that may or may not make good sense for you, depending on answers to my questions above. I'd pick many other places over Brussels as a day trip - unless you've already been to them or are planning to come back reasonably soon.

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
951 posts

I would really only side trip to Brussels if it were on route to my destination. For instance, if I were in Amsterdam, going to Paris, I would make a stop in Brussels for a few hours. Yes, Brussels has great museums, but so does Paris. Other than Brussels' museums, I find the city not my personal cup of tea. I much prefer the small city charm of Bruges and Ghent over Brussels.

Posted by Nancy
Saint Louis, MO
13 posts

Thanks. A friend gave me nearly word for word the same appraisal of Brussels. I appreciate your insight!

Posted by Bets
3351 posts

Hi Nancy,
Glad you're going to stay in Paris. With the EU you wouldn't even get a stamp in your passport. It's kind of like crossing from St. louis to Illinois, except there's not even a river to cross.

Posted by Sharon
515 posts

We took an easy and lovely day train trip to Rouen. Easy lovely city to wander, see Monet's cathedral, the Gros Horloge, the Joan of Arc sites, more walking along the Seine, and for us, seeing Hotel Dieu that was the 179th General Hospital where my dad served in WWII. We went to Brussels also on our way to Belgium and the Ardennes, but did not find Brussels appealing. We walked to the Grand Place for a glass of framboise, but I wouldn't take a day from Paris to go to Brussels.

Posted by Nancy
Saint Louis, MO
13 posts

Thanks, Bets and Sharon.
The consensus seems to be in favor of passing on Brussels. I appreciate your responding.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
4031 posts

A week in Paris can be easily filled... we've spent months there and still didn't get to do all that we wanted to do. In addition to day trips already mentioned... there's Vaux-le-Vicomte and Malmaison which we love going to. In Paris, and not mentioned in Rick's guide afaik, is the Nissim de Camondo House/Museum next to Parc Monceau... well worth visiting. Also, be sure to spend some time in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris... ;)

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6521 posts

There is way too much in Paris to think about Belgium. And you wouldn't get a passport stamp anyway. You'd just be able to add it to your list of been-to places.