The high-speed train from Amsterdam (the Netherlands) to Paris (France) is called the Thalys train. At first, the line only ran from Paris to Brussel (Belgium) but was extended to include the Netherlands too. Travel by train around Europe is super easy, affordable and has many benefits. As a huge train travel enthusiast, I was super excited to travel by Thalys train to Paris. But I discovered some things that no one tells you about (good and bad). Except me! I list the things that surprised me about the Thalys to Paris to help you prepare for the journey!
12 Things No One Tells You about Thalys: Amterdam to Paris Train
Find Cheap Thalys Tickets 3 months in advance
The Thalys is the Amsterdam to Paris train and it is advertised as a cheap way to travel to Paris. I’m subscribed to the newsletter and they spam my inbox with teasers like “travel to Paris by train for only €35”.
When you hop over to the Thalys website or the Dutch website for international train travel, the site either doesn’t load, or tickets are more likely to be €135. If you want to go on the weekend, it seems nearly impossible to find those cheap Thalys train tickets. Bummer.
This spring, I decided to give things one last try to find a cheap train ticket for the Thalys to Paris. I went over to the website and choose a date as far in advance as possible. That turned out to be a little over 3 months. I booked on May 1st to travel mid-August. If you wonder how many days in advance you can book the Thalys train, the answer is 108 days.
And bam: score! I found tickets for €35! So they do exist. I immediately locked down 2 return tickets by Thalys to Paris for me and my boyfriend.
There are more stops than just Amsterdam and Paris on the Thalys train
The Thalys train is advertised as the Amsterdam and Paris train connection. And it does. But you don’t have to board at Amsterdam Central station to go to Paris. There are more stops along the route:
- Amsterdam Central Station (Netherlands)
- Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (Netherlands)
- Rotterdam Central Station (NL)
- Antwerp Central Station (Belgium)
- Brussel Midi Station (Belgium)
- Paris Nord (France)
Particular useful is the Amsterdam Airport stop. This allows you to fly to the Netherlands, look around for a day or 2 and then board a train to Paris. Might be an option when intercontinental flights to Paris are more expensive.
Although the only high-speed direct connection between Brussels (BE) and Paris (FR) is the Thalys train, the other stations are also served by regional and international IC trains. You can travel from Amsterdam to Antwerp and Brussel via local trains, look around for 1 or 2 days and then continue your train travel to Paris by Thalys train.
Paris Nord is actually in Paris ‘center’
The final train station to arrive in Paris is called Paris Gare du Nord. Or Paris North station. Although it sounds like it is located outside of Paris, it is located within the main ring of Paris center.
This allows you to change to a Paris train or metro line, and be in the heart of Paris within a couple of minutes. For example, Paris trains D (green) and B (blue) and the E (pink) will bring you to ‘Les Halles’, close to the Louvre and Seine. Metro lines 5 and 4 bring you all over Paris and are easily connected to other metro lines.
For only €1,90 you can travel everywhere in Paris main ring or if you buy a 10-pack, you pay only €1,49 per ticket.
When I planned my trip to Paris, I wondered how it would work to get from Paris Nord to our hotel. Turns out, metro and train lines in Paris are super easy, well connected and signage is excellent. Just follow the colored lines on the metro map, follow the right direction and hop aboard. If you do feel fancy, you can arrange for transport from Paris Nord in an original Citroen 2CV to your hotel.
You can use your Eurail or Interrail Pass but a reservation is mandatory
If you plan to travel to Europe and want to visit a bunch of countries, the Eurail pass (for non-European citizens or residents) or the Interrail pass (for EU-residents) have several options. You can purchase a pass for several countries or a global pass that allows you to travel by train across Europe.
The Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris is included in this pass. However, reservation costs are high and mandatory. I was a bit surprised at how high the costs for a reservation was (€56 for 2 persons). If you’re able to snag those cheaper, super saver early bird, tickets, it might be better to just book that and save your pass for other train journeys.
Show up on time to board the Thalys train
Although you do not need to check in to board the Thalys train like you do to board a plane. It is recommended to arrive a little bit earlier at the train station. All Thalys train tickets have reserved seating and you can find the right carriage by numbers on the doors of the train and the platform.
I found the Thalys trains to be super long, at least longer than a normal train. As Amsterdam and Paris Nord are head stations, you have to walk the length of the train to reach the last carriage. Just my luck that we’d be seated in the very last carriage of the train when you’re already running late.
Make sure to have a stress free journey by high-speed train and arrive a little earlier. Numbers on the platform correspond with where the carriage will be. For example, we boarded in Antwerp. On the platform, when the train wasn’t there yet, we found the sign for carriage 18 and waited there. The Thalys train with carriage 18 arrived in front of us and we could board easily.
You don’t want to run around a platform with your luggage where people are getting on and off a train and still have to find your carriage.
The Thalys: Amsterdam to Paris train is faster than flying
I did some math and came to the following conclusion: The Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris is faster than flying! Say what? I can’t make it more clear than with the below breakdown.
Depending on the time of your flight, you have to allocate 2,5 to 3 hours for security checks and customs at Schiphol airport. With the Thalys train, I’d say 10 minutes is enough. It takes 3.18 hours on the Amsterdam to Paris train (3.08h is you depart from Schiphol airport).
The flight does have less transport time, only 1 hour and 15 minutes. But add up the time to taxi to the correct gate, de-board the plane, customs and claiming your luggage can take well up to 1 hour, if not more.
With almost 1.5 hours, the Thalys train is faster than flying.
|Thalys Train||Plane from AMS to CDG|
|Arrive at station||0.10||Arrive at airport, security||2.30|
|Customs and luggage||1.00|
|Total||3.28 h||Total||4.45 h|
Co2 Emission reduced by more than 90%
Who cares? Well, I do. I know flying is not good for the environment and travel in general puts a strain on our globe. However, I do feel the need to travel and I’m happy to do so in a less polluting way (if possible). Just look at the numbers and tell me that’s not a huge plus for train travel on the Thalys to Paris?
CO2 emission per person for this flight is 119kg. This is for a Boeing 737-800 from Amsterdam to Paris, incl. taxiing, take-off, and landing.**
The Thalys train needs 9,7 kg per passenger. Still a lot for a pleasure ride, but more than 90% less than flying.
** source is IFEU. Thalys has reached its goals to reduce their Co2 emissions with 40% in 10 years (2008-2018). These goals were partly met because the Dutch trains run on wind power which decreases Co2 emissions.
Enough room to store your luggage on the Thalys train
With flying, especially on Europe’s low budget airlines, you have to be cautious about how much luggage you take. It will cost extra to bring one big suitcase and even your carry-on luggage has to be a certain (small!) size. On the Thalys train to Paris, you do not need to worry about that so much.
There is no maximum luggage allowance but be aware: you have to carry it on the train and off again all by yourself! Luggage compartments are situated at each carriage, as well as overhead baggage racks. There is even enough room on the floor or on the tray table in front of you. Another thing you don’t have to worry about!
The high-speed Thalys train doesn’t always run at its full potential
Maybe very logical but the Thalys connection is advertised to be the high-speed Amsterdam to Paris train. And it is of course. The train can run at a maximum speed of 300 km/h (168 mp/h). But it doesn’t reach this speed all the time during the journeys. As a matter of fact, only the stretch from Brussel (Belgium) to Paris the Thalys train speeds up and runs at high speed.
It only takes 1 hour to cover the distance of 315km from Brussel to Paris. The stretch Amsterdam to Brussel is only 218km and takes almost 2 hours to complete.
However, when the train does run at full speed, I found it quite exciting. If you log on to the free Wi-Fi network of the Thalys train, the welcome window shows you the position of the train and the current speed it runs at. We refreshed every minute to see if the train would reach 300 km/h. Unfortunately, the fastest we saw was 299 km/h. Still pretty fast!
The view isn’t always that great due to tunnels and walls
Why would I want to check my phone, when we’re whooshing through the French countryside by train? Well… the problem with the high-speed Thalys train is that the train goes so fast, it is hard to enjoy the view. Add up to the fact the Thalys track is a lowered track, surrounded by concrete walls, natural sound barriers and a lot of tunnels. This makes the view a bit boring, as you can only see the walls and not much of the surrounding countryside.
On some occasions, you do get to see something of the countries though! The long traffic jams around Paris made me extra happy with our train ride to Paris!
The Thalys train is the perfect place to take a nap
So what do you do on the Thalys train? Besides checking the speed on your phone, trying to catch a glimpse of the outside world and enjoying a glass of wine in the restaurant wagon?? For me, the answer is: napping! Travel is exhausting and if you put me in a moving vehicle, odds are, I’m rocked to sleep within minutes. But I can’t sleep on planes. Too cramped and too uncomfortable.
But not on the Thalys trains to Paris! Each seat has these lovely ear cushions, where you can rest your head. Enough space, plush seating and the gentle rocking of the train makes me drift off to dreamland in no time!
The train to Paris is so easy and comfortable, you might want to come back
When I booked my train trip to Paris, I thought, we’d just go, tick some things off the bucket list and be done with it. Turned out, we both loved our time and Paris and absolutely loved how easy and comfortable the weekend trip was.
In the past, we’d taken short weekend trips across Europe and they were exhausting, hectic and exhausting. Yes, I mention that twice as it was that exhausting. However, our trip by Thalys train to Paris was so relaxed and easy, halfway through we were already plotting we should do this again sometimes.
Practical links and tips
Although some things were a bit unexpected, now that I know, I see nothing but benefits for travel to Paris by Thalys train. If you’re convinced too, here are some practical links to help get you started:
- Buy your Thalys train tickets here or here.
- Find a good hotel near Amsterdam Central station or other places to stay in Amsterdam
- Backpacker accommodations in Amsterdam
- Find a good hotel near Paris Nord station
- Eurail train passes to Europe or Interrail pass
- Things to do in Paris in 3 days
- Paris on a budget
- Amsterdam for first-timers
- Amsterdam Budget Guide
- Disneyland Express Tickets for Train and Parks
- From Amsterdam: 4-Course Dinner by Sightseeing Train
- Paris to London by Eurostar
Have you ever been to Paris? Did you travel by train to Paris? What did you think? Any unexpected surprises or situations? Please share them in the comment section below.
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