Paris to Brussels by regional train
When speed is your need, the Paris to Brussels route run by Thalys is a reliable and efficient way to travel, taking under 1.5 hours. When you’re in no hurry, though, traveling from Paris to Brussels by regional train allows you avoid reservation fees and to travel at a leisurely pace – all it requires is a little planning. This is the way to discover one of the joys of a Eurail Pass – your ability to jump aboard almost any train. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get to experience some European destinations that are usually overlooked.
Top 3 stops from Paris to Brussels
Why not visit one of these cities on the regional train route from Paris to Brussels?
As soon as I reached Amiens, I made a note of the train times for my next destination. When you’re cobbling together a day of multiple train journeys, it’s really helpful to jot down your departure options. This way you can maximise your time in each city without getting back to the station too early and without having to worry about missing the last train.
I wandered into town towards the old city, having no idea what to expect of Amiens. Sometimes I like arriving in new cities without doing any research. It’s like going to a movie without reading a review, free of any expectations. I was familiar with Amiens from World War I history books, and I knew something about its cathedral. As it turns out, the gothic cathedral of Amiens is as impressive as the Notre Dame in Paris, but without the crowds. I walked around some more of the city before heading back to the station, already pleased with myself that I had taken the regional train and visited a place I would have missed on the high-speed train.
From Amiens there are regional trains that go to Lille. It’s close to France’s border with Belgium, and another step closer to Brussels. Lille is a secondary city, and it isn’t on the radar of most travelers to Europe. The city was the European Capital of Culture in 2004, so I knew that it was going to be worthy of a detour. Beautiful old apartments greeted my exit from the station. The town square, just a short walk away, is lined with grand buildings from a time when Lille was a prominent merchant city. By the time I returned, I had missed my original train, so I was glad to have made note of alternative train times.
From Lille my next stop was Kortrijk, where catching a direct train to Brussels is easy. Still, as a Eurail Pass Holder you’re never in a rush. I knew Kortrijk holds enough historical sites of interest to warrant a wander. As is the case with many of the old towns of Belgium, the Grote Markt (town square) is the heart of the city. So I headed in that direction to wile away the time before my train’s departure.
Arriving in Brussels
Once you’re in Belgium, reaching Brussels is easy work. I checked into my hostel and then made my way to Brussels’ Grote Markt. I had been here before, but this town square is among the grandest in Europe. It never fails to blow my mind. While I was admiring the guild houses, I thought back to the start of the day in Paris. I had seen three cities along the way using four regional trains. It was so surprisingly simple!
I left Paris around 9 a.m. and got to Brussels around 6.30 p.m., with about four hours of travel time. Sure, the direct high-speed train takes less than an hour and a half. But taking the regional rails allowed me to see so much, and in just one day.
Who knows, a place you have never heard of might soon become your new favourite city. Find out more about the Eurail Pass.