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I'm wondering if there is a cheaper way to get from Brussels to Paris by train than Thalys. Thalys prices are alright if you book some time in advance, but it can be quite expensive if you book only a few days before. I don't mind if the travel time takes some extra hours.

This is related to the question “What is the cheapest / fastest way to get from Brussels to Paris?” but no one mentioned other options by train than Thalys there. Perhaps going through Lille is a possibility?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Yes, you can travel with regional trains. It takes a little over 4 hours plus the connection times, and there are no good connections, so count on 5 to 6 hours for the journey. The bus takes 4–5 hours and is cheaper than regional trains.

It isn't easy to find the train times or prices because online planners tend to go for the fastest journey only. There's an option to avoid ICE on the German railways site but that only avoids German high-speed trains, not others such as Thalys. Try looking up Bruxelles–Lille, Lille–Amiens and Amiens–Paris separately.

As of today, you can break your journey as follows:

  • Paris–Amiens: 21.60€, lasts 66min to 99min, about 1 train per hour.
  • Amiens-Lille Flandres: 21.10€, lasts 80min, about 1 train per hour.
  • Lille Flandres–Bruxelles with a change at Tournai: 22.60€, lasts 102min, about 1 train per hour.

That's a total of 65.30€. It should be a little less if you go to a train station and buy a single ticket (I don't think you can buy that ticket online).

In comparison, a last minute Thalys ticket costs 99€ and the journey is only 82min. If I elect to travel one day later I find seats for 69€ (obviously this depends on how full the trains are). A last minute ticket on Idbus costs 39€ for a 4-hour journey or 29€ for a 5-hour journey, with no break of journey either way. So regional trains don't seem like a good compromise between price, comfort and speed.

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2  
If you choose local trains only, then Bahn.de will avoid Thalys. –  gerrit Jul 15 '13 at 11:02
1  
@gerrit but it also avoid Intercités trains, which adds about 45min to Paris–Amiens for no difference in price (tickets for Intercités and TER are the same). –  Gilles Jul 15 '13 at 11:07
    
If you are less than 26 years old, it becomes a bit cheaper: 13 EUR for Lille - Bruxelles and +- 16 EUR each for Lille-Amiens and Amiens-Paris. But it is still more than the most expensive idbus ticket and less covenient. –  PERSONA NON GRATA Jul 15 '13 at 17:48

There is also a possibility of carpooling, something like http://www.carpooling.fr/. It is used a lot in Germany and is considered to be one of the cheapest ways to travel.

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I deleted the comment thread on this as it's heading off topic. Please use the chat room for extended discussions. –  Ankur Banerjee Jul 16 '13 at 11:06

One of the cheapest ways to visit Europe (including the Brussels - Paris route) is by bus. Eurolines is one of the most famous.
They sometimes have promotions from 9 euros per ticket. But most of the time it'll be from 32 euros.

You can also try Blablacar which is a website to share a private car and share the fuel/highway price (around 20 euros).

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-1. Your post would answer this question about the cheapest way to get from Brussels to Paris, but the OP here asked only for options by train. So your post doesn't answer the question. –  Dirty-flow Jan 17 at 14:10

@Gilles already has a very nice answer and mine is on the same line, although the route differs. I have travelled a lot between brussels and Paris avoiding the Thalys by train.

The quickest route involves some high speed connection, from Lille Flanders to Paris. Either on Tuesday or Thursday the SNCF publishes last-minute offers. It has been a while I have been monitoring their offers, that is why I can't be precise on it being tuesday or thursday. The connection between Lille and Paris is quite often mentioned as a last minute.

For both of my suggestion you need to get into Lille from Brussels. 1. As Gilles already mentioned you can use ticket, but there is a cheaper solution in the Railpass (>26 years old) or the Gopass (<26 old). These two passes entitle you to 10 unlimited trips in Belgium. As such only relevant if you plan to do more trips in Belgium.

So depending on your age, you can get to the French border for either 5 or 7 Euro. From the Border you need another ticket.

  1. If you secured a "derniere minute" offer from the SNCF you need to buy a ticket from Mouscron to Lille (6,20 Euro). While writing this answer I could get from Lille to Paris by TGV for 25 Euro for tomorrow, so it is definitely worth looking at.

  2. When I didn't find a good offer for the tgv, I went through Maubeuge. There is a train going to Maubeuge from Lille every hour and there are frequent direct intercity's from Maubeuge to Paris (Gare du Nord), which costs 45,80 Euro.

So would I need to travel tomorrow I would pay for 1. 7,10+6,20 + 25 = 38,30 2. 7,10+6,20+ 45,80 = 59,10

As you can see my route through Maubeuge is slightly more expensive then @Gilles route through Amiens if you use the railpasses and border crossing ticket in stead of buying one ticket form Lille to Brussels.

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