If the offers are too good, grab them before they’re gone forever, that’s my advice for promo fares, accommodation and tour packages. Just make sure that you read the terms and conditions, most promo fares are non refundable and payment is upfront. If your travel dates coincided with the promo dates then you’ve landed yourself a good deal.
Last October, I traveled first class with Thalys high-speed train, between Paris and Brussels. I booked this through GoEuro in August, only three moths before my trip and I was able to avail the discounted fare, almost half of the full fare. So is it worth it if you pay the full fare travelling on first class? Let’s check it out.
Thalys Train – Paris Nord – Bruxells (Direct Train)
Departure = 18:55 Arrival = 20:17 Total 1:22
Class – First Class Carriage – 2 Seat No. – 11
Pre Boarding: At Gare du Nord in Paris, it’s best to sit and have a coffee somewhere in the departure hall, just keep an eye on your departure time. The big departure board in the middle of the station is always crowded with passengers waiting for their train platform announcement. The board only displays the train platform as it gets closer to the departure time. Thalys has personnel in the departure area, they will assist you when you queue to enter the gate and platform. Everyone boarding a Thalys train will pass through an x-ray machine along with your luggage.
Boarding: Most carriages have personnel welcoming you at the train’s doors. The train is long so make sure you check your carriage number written next to the door. Often, passengers board any carriage then they make their way to their assigned carriage by walking along the aisles. I supposed they are the frequent train riders, and they know exactly where to go, but this method can cause blockages as people try to find seats and stash their luggage, it is often quicker just to walk down the platform instead.
Carriage 2 (Comfort 1) / Seat 11: Boarding was seamless and and I got on board pretty quick. It’s the second carriage with 39 seats, cozy interior with a touch of luxe, it has it’s own luggage storage, toilet at the end and free WI-FI. Seat 11, is a single window seat and it’s facing towards to the train’s destination. It has a reclining option, comfy, lots of room, with a big tray, magazine pocket, overhead racks and an electrical socket. Our train departed on time.
Service on Board: The Comfort 1 carriage was very quiet, hardly any noise except for the the buzzing noise as it speeds up to 186 MPH/300 km/h. Passengers mostly just sat, reading their tablets or smartphones, magazines and some had dozed off. After the train’s ticket officer had scanned our tickets, the food attendant came out from the back carriage with her trolly of delicious French fare. Seat No. 11 gets the first service. The food was served on a tray just like an airline, there are two main dishes on offer, I chose the French vegetable quiche served with olives, cucumber and capsicum alongside a piece of goat cheese, bread, butter and a French lemon tart washed down by a small bottle of white wine, Cuvee des Lanciers Cotes De Gascogne. The set dinner was great, c’est délicieux! not too heavy, especially as I’m joining a late dinner catch up with friends in Brussels. Coffee was also served after the meal.
If you’re travelling on First Class you will be served breakfast, lunch, a light meal or an evening meal at your seat, depending on the time of day. There is a spacious bar located in the middle of the train where you can buy food and drinks.
Arrival: The 1:22 journey was very quick, before I could even finish off and post an Instagram update about my meal, voila we have arrived in Brussels Midi, it was spot on with the arrival time.
Verdict: First class is definitely the way to travel especially if you want a lot of me time. The service from Paris to Brussels ran on timetable and the onboard service was excellent from start to finish, I couldn’t really fault any part of this service or journey and being able to book it for half price, just made it sweeter.