Paris to Brussels by regional train
When speed is your need, the Thalys is a reliable and efficient way to travel from Paris to Brussels, in less than 1.5 hours. When you’re in no hurry though, traveling from Paris to Brussels by regional train allows you to avoid reservation fees and travel at a leisurely pace – all that’s required 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 it save you 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 stunning 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 know what your departure options are. This way you can maximise your time in each city without getting back to the station too early or having to worry about missing the last train.
I wandered into town towards the old city, having no idea what to expect of Amiens. It often feels good to arrive in a city that you haven’t researched in advance. It’s like going to a movie without reading a review, free of any expectations. I was somewhat familiar with Amiens from my World War I history books, and I knew its cathedral was supposed to be a highlight. As it turns out, the gothic cathedral of Amiens is at least as impressive as the Notre Dame in Paris, but without the crowds. I walked around the city some more 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 when traveling by high-speed train.
From Amiens there are plenty of regional trains that go to Lille. It’s rather close to the French-Belgian border, and another step closer to Brussels. You might call Lille a secondary city that isn’t on the radar of most travelers in Europe. However, as the European Capital of Culture in 2004, I figured Lille would 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 to the station, I had managed to miss my train. Luckily, there were plenty of alternatives!
From Lille, I traveled to the Belgian city of Kortrijk, where catching a direct train to Brussels is easy. Still, as a Eurail Pass Holder you should never be in a rush. Kortrijk holds more than enough historical sites of interest to grab a traveler’s attention. Like in many of the old towns of Belgium, the Grote Markt (town square) is the heart of the city. So I headed in that direction and came across some wonderful medieval buildings, most notably the old belfry. Kortrijk had enough in store to keep me well entertained before my train’s departure.
Arriving in Brussels
Once you’ve reached Belgium, getting to Brussels is easy work. I checked into my hostel and made my way to Brussels’ Grote Markt. I had been here before, but this town square is among the grandest in Europe, and it never fails to blow my mind. While admiring the old guild houses, I thought back to the start of my day in Paris. Since breakfast, I had seen 4 different cities using 4 regional trains. It was so surprisingly simple!
I left Paris around 9 a.m. and got to Brussels around 6.30 p.m., with a total travel time of about 4 hours. Even though the direct high-speed train takes less than 1.5 hours, taking the regional train allowed me to see so much more, and in just one day!
Who knows, a place you have never heard of might soon become your new favorite city. Find out more about the Eurail Pass.