My husband and I will be spending a couple of weeks in Paris. We want to take the train to Bruge for a couple of days. Can we buy tickets at the local train station or do we need a Eurail Pass?
A pass would be a big waste of money. Paris has six mainline train stations. You can buy your tickets at any of them or at a SNCF (French National Rail) boutique. However, if you book well in advance (up to 90 days), you can get discount fare tickets on either a Thalys train or a TGV. Those tickets are for a specific departure date and time and are non-exchangeable and non-refundable so be sure you can commit before booking. No reservations are possible on IC trains. You can choose from two routes: 1. Gare du Nord to Bruxelles-Midi on a high-speed Thalys train and Bruxelles-Midi to Brugge/Bruges on an IC train. 2. Gare du Nord to either Lille Europe or Lille Flandres on a TGV and Lille to Brugge on IC trains (one connection in Kortrijk). When are you taking this trip?
Thanks so much for the information. We are planning to go in September.
Beginning in 2013, France will no longer participate in the Eurail Select pass. They will still participate in the Eurail Global Pass. Here's the link to the news http://www.eurail.com/france-no-longer-in-eurail-select-pass
The standard 2nd class fare for Paris-Bruxelles on a Thalys train with the ABS (Any Belgian Station) add-on which would include your ride from Bruxelles to Brugge is €76.00. If you book well in advance on thalys.com, you can get a discount fare as low as €36.00. Depending upon the departure time, the standard 2nd class fare for a TGV from Paris to Lille ranges from €46.00 to €63.00. Booked well in advance on tgv-europe.com, you can get a discount fare as low as €15.00. The 2nd class fare for Lille-Brugge on IC trains is €18.00. IC trains from Lille to Brugge depart from Lille Flandres. If your Paris-Lille TGV arrives at Lille Europe, you'll need to take a 15-minute walk from there to Lille Flandres. You'll have a lot more departure times from which to choose if you take a Thalys train to Bruxelles rather than a TGV to Lille. And your connection will be in a single station. IMO, if you book far enough in advance to get a discount fare, traveling Paris-Bruxelles-Brugge is your best option.