1) No, you have to change at Bruxelles-Midi
3) I'm not sure it makes any difference at least at this time of year. You may want to avoid trains during rush hours on weekday mornings and evenings, and perhaps Sunday night (people returning from weekends in Paris and/or arriving for meetings on Monday morning).
Once you are in Ghent (or in Bruxelles) you could take the national railroad (b-rail) to Brugges.
If you are planning on travelling extensively in Belgium, you better buy a Rail pass (10 one-way rides between 2 Belgian railway stations except for stations at the border) which you could use with as many people as you want. Check things out at the local railway station to see what the best options for you is.
The railway stations also offer you 'B-trips' where you combine the train tickets and tickets for musea in Brugges, a boat trip and/or a guided tour at a reducted rate.
Of course you could do everything on your own, you could easily walk from the railway station in Brugges to the city center. There is also an information stand "in&uit Brugge" close to '"t Zand', where you could buy a map of Brugges for 0.50 euro. Just cross the square of the railway station, cross the street and follow the path & arrows which will lead you to the center of Brugge, 't Zand and the information stand "in&uit Brugge".
Have a nice time in Belgium!
I just booked a 2nd class Thayls ticket Brussels to Paris Nord on Dec 11 for 25 euros. Book Thayls on the European Site. They were extremely helpful and spoke English. I was also going to booktrain tickets in Belgium to Genk and was told it would not be a problem but there was no benefit to buying tickets at that time. Plus I would still have the opportunity to leave earlier or later if I waited. I have never had a problem with the train while traveling in Belgium. Check the specials on the Thayls website.
Is there any benefit buying tickets way in advance? (I mean for travel in June 2009)....
I do not think there is a direct train from Paris to Bruges. I know that the Thayls has a high speed train from Paris Nord Gare to Brussels Midi station. I just bought a ticket from Brussels to Paris Nord for 25 Euros. Which is a great buy. I ended up calling the Brussels phone number. So you might have to buy a phone card if you dont have international calling. They speak English and are very helpful. Anyway, I almost booked a Thayls trip online here in the states. They wanted 100 dollars more than I paid thru Thayls. I think you would have to use Thayls Paris office where trip originates. Tickets can not be booked until 90 days before trip. Thayls you need reservations. The other trains no. I have taken the train from Genk to Charleroi on a Sunday and during the week with no problem. They have alot of space. Plus they have trains going all the time. I wouldnt worry about Brussels to Bruges on a train. Have a great time! If I can assist you, let me know.
You could take Thayls to Brussels Midi. Takes about 11/2 hours. Once you arrive in Brussels you can buy a train ticket to Bruges. I think that trip would be about an hour. You might want to check when you buy a Thayls ticket Paris to Brussels, sometimes you can get a discounted ticket on the regular train iff you show your Thayls tickets. When I bought my Thayls, I asked about my other train ticket and was told they could do it. But it really wasnt a benefit for me. Also, my Thayls ticket I am picking up at the train station. They would mail to an address in Belgium but since I was going to be there anyway, it was easier to pick it up. So I am sure if you decided to take the Thayls you can have them hold your ticket at Paris Nord. They do give you a reservation # so there should be no problem. Transportation in Belgium and Paris is great. I am looking forward to my trip in December.
I don't know how long you will be in Paris. But they have a ParisVisite Pass. I think it is about 30 dollars for 3 days. It might be a little more due to the euro/dollar relationship but this pass is great. You can buy it at the charles degaul airport info desk or right at the RER station. There is a bus from the airport to the station. Station is very close to Chrles De Gaul. ( We have also stayed at the IBIS Charles DeGaul. Hotel is next to the RER. Makes it very convenient.) They will give you a map with the transportation pass. Anyway, from the RER station out at the airport you can go into Paris or get off at Paris nord station. I think the Thayls starts at Charles De Gaul also. Train can be seen in the airport. Don't confuse Thayls with RER. Two different lines.
The sooner you book Thayls the cheaper it will be. I don't know how much traveling you are planning in Europe. But it might be to your advantage to check out the low cost airlines. They do not fly from Paris to Belgium. Put you can get cheap flights from Paris or from Brussels to Italy, Hungary, Spain, etc. The flights are much cheaper than the train. But you would need to register with the airlines for notification. Sometimes they have penney flights plus taxes. So flight can run 25-40 dollars) They are sending info on flights for Winter and Spring now. RyanAir, EasyJet, Sky Europe, Wizz, Virgin, Sterling are a few. Some of there routes change I believe April 1. Not all of them but every so often. So I would keep an eye on flight schedules. I got bumped off one once but Ryan Air let me fly with them for only $1.00.
Leaves Paris once or twice a day, depending on the day.
Leaves Bruges only once a day: 6:30 in the morning !! OUCH ! Means you roust yourself out of your comfy B&B at some ungodly hour like 5 a.m. and miss breakfast on top of it.
Better to return to Paris via belgium rail (transfering at Brussels) or via Eurolines bus, direct.
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