Should I pre-purchae a ticket with reservation to take a train from Paris to Brugg? I believe the best route is Paris to Brussels then to Brugge. If I understand correctly, If I purchase a ticket with reservation on the Thalys I can then use the same ticket to go to Brugge on a different line. The cost was $72.00. Is this the best option? Many Thanks!
@ Michael, I wouldn't bother pre-purchase of a ticket. There are numerous trains on that route, so purchasing a day or two before travel should be adequate" I prefer to buy tickets when I'm actually "on the ground" in Europe, mostly for the reasons Philip mentioned. Once the trip starts, plans can change and I don't want to be "locked into" a specific train. It's sometimes possible to qualify for discounted tickets when purchasing at least a day or two in advance of the trip, and it gives me more flexibility in terms of which train and departure time I'll be using. There are rare occasions when I'll purchase tickets 90-days in advance such as the EuroStar, but most of the time I purchase when in Europe. I'm usually a bit "apprehensive" hoping there won't be any complications that prevent me from getting to the train at the appointed time. Cheers!
Janet, I wouldn't bother pre-purchase of a ticket. There are numerous trains on that route, so purchasing a day or two before travel should be adequate. I'm not quite clear on your statement to "use the same ticket to go to Brugge on a different line"? If you're purchasing a "ticket with reservation", it will be for a specific train and you won't be able to use it on another train. Given your location, you may find it very helpful to drive up to Edmonds one day and speak with Rick's rail experts. They'll be able to provide all the details. It would be a really good idea to delete your duplicate Thread on this subject, before it attracts any replies. It will be easier to keep all the replies in one place. Cheers!
Thalys tickets will be much cheaper if you buy them about 90 days in advance, but that ties you to a specific train so may be a bad idea if you are flying to Paris the same day, as if you are delayed and miss the train you will probably have to buy a new full-fare ticket. In the past a Thalys or Eurostar ticket to/from Brussels would automatically entitle you to a free connection to/from anywhere in Belgium on the same day, but now you have to specifically purchase a ticket to "any Belgian station", which is slightly more expensive. This does not tie you to any specific train from Brussels to Brugge. That price sounds a bit expensive. If you were booking on the US Rail Europe site the prices are notoriously padded there. You should book on the Thalys or TGV site - there are some issues booking that from the USA but I'm British and aren't completely clear on that - but there will be discussion in many other threads here on that. Another possibility on the price is that from my own experience I have a suspicion that if you specifically ask the website to book you to Brugge it will charge you a fare to Brussels and then an ordinary single fare to Brugge. If you want the cheaper combined deal try booking to "any Belgian station" and see if it makes a difference.
"...I wouldn't bother pre-purchase of a ticket. There are numerous trains on that route, so purchasing a day or two before travel should be adequate..." If you want to save money you should absolutely purchase your tickets way in advance; 90 days via the http://www.thalys.com site; choose Bruges as your destination. If you wait until a day or two before your journey, you will have to pay top dollar for the tickets! Most journeys make a connection via Brussels, but Thalys does have a direct train every evening from Paris to Bruges.
Standard 2nd class Thalys ticket for Paris-Brussels: €90. Cheapest online advance purchase Smoove fare ticket: €25. The ABS (Any Belgian Station) feature for Thalys trains isn't free. It's a discount fare you can buy if you have a Thalys ticket. You can buy one at Gare du Nord (or any SNCF station) in Paris.
Thank you sooo very much for all the helpful replies!
"...It's sometimes possible to qualify for discounted tickets when purchasing at least a day or two in advance of the trip, and it gives me more flexibility in terms of which train and departure time I'll be using..." That's not a good strategy with Thalys trains in terms of cost. Every Thalys train I've been on has nearly sold-out, and I've never seen discount tickets available a "day or two" before departure. The "Eurostar" exception you mention for purchasing tickets 90 days in advance also applies to Thalys trains out of Paris.
@ Michael, Perhaps I was thinking more of Italy when I commented about buying tickets a day or two in advance. Regardless of country, I still don't like to be "locked into" a specific train and departure time, for the reasons previously mentioned, even if the cost is less.