I am planning on taking the TGV from Paris to Brussels sometime on the 21st of October (a Friday).
Do I need to book my ticket in advance, or can I just show up and easily grab a ticket on the next train? I have to work on the Friday, and would like to leave right after work, but I am not 100% certain when right after work will be (whether it'll be 3 in the afternoon or 6 at night). I'd rather leave my options open.
Any advance would be appreciated.
I'm pretty sure you can just hop on - but maybe Friday nights are tricky. I'm really posting as an excuse to suggest you visit Brugge while you're in Belgium... it's a gorgeous city, and definitely worth the small side-trip, if you have the time.
There`s about an hourly Thalys service, but they can fill up, especially on fri afternoons/eves. They tend to run at about 90% capacity through the week in general, so its not as if they are normally half empty. There are also a few from Disneyland (Marne la Valle Chessy) and C de G Airport which could be a substitute in case of major problem. You should be able to get a ticket just by turning up, although queuing could mean you miss a train or so.
If you want to be really safe, book one for kind of the latest you expect to leave, say 8pm, and then if you`ve finished before, just exchange it. It may cost you a couple of euros extra, but at least your certain to be able to make it that evening. I did once have a problem the otherway on a friday evening when there was not a single seat available all eve/night, and rather than farting around nd changing several times (possible, and it takes longer), i just jumped on and sat in one of the fold down entrance seats and paid the conductor at a premium. In Paris however, the tend to check tickets before letting you on the platform, so its not really a viable option.
If it all does go wrong, try and get a ticket to Lille instead, and then either walk the 400m between Flanders and Europe stations and try and get a Lille-Bruxelles TGV or Eurostar, or get a ticket in Flanders to Bruxelles via either Gent or Namur, which involves another change, but there are frequent trains, and you dont need reseravations so yuou will at least make it
We had no problems, pretty short trip.
I'll probably just wait and purchase the week I am leaving on the Tuesday or the Wednesday. I was just looking at the SNCF (trains in France) site (Voyages-SNCF), and they have last minute deals for this weekend coming up. No guarantees they'll have last minute deals for the week I want to go, of course, but I'll take my chances.
Someone will correct me if I am wrong. Many TGVs require reservations for all seats. Go ahead and reserve your seats the day before. No need to worry too much, but better safe.