How to get from Toronto to Brussels (and what to do with a 4-year-old once there)?
October 10, 2009 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Hi. Two questions related to an upcoming family trip - from Toronto to Brussels: - cost-effective (but not too tiring) ways to get from Toronto to Brussels? Non-stop flight? Connect elsewhere (London, Paris, Frankfurt, ...)? Fly into large hub (Paris, Frankfurt, ...) and book secondary flight or train? - things to do in Brussels with a 4-year-old?
posted by fsmontenegro to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
Depends which Paris airport you would fly into, but you can catch a train from Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport direct to Brussels. Takes about one and a half hours and will cost about €46 for an adult.
posted by idiomatika at 1:32 PM on October 10, 2009

Forgot the links:

Main train reservations site (in French): Voyages-SNCF
Site for foreign visitors, in English: TGV Europe
posted by idiomatika at 1:36 PM on October 10, 2009

And it's the TGV, and awesome, and fast. Well worth it. I'd prefer Bruges for a one or two day trip, honestly - I find Brussels to be a bit dirty and boring, though Bruges really only is about 48 hours of entertainment, tops. :)

You won't be seeing "Paris", since CDG is in a suburb (Roissy) about an hour north by train. Maybe an overhead view as you land. :)

Amsterdam, Cologne (or even Frankfurt), and London are all other viable options with high(er)-speed rail connections.
posted by kcm at 1:40 PM on October 10, 2009

Jet Airways is the only airline that flies directly from Toronto to Brussels. I've flown with them several times - their service is excellent and their fares tend to be pretty reasonable.
posted by eendje at 1:49 PM on October 10, 2009

An idea in Brussels. It's next to the Atomium, which is the "Eiffel Tower" equivalent of the city.

If it's your first time there, try the Grand Place. That's a must see.
posted by Fillus at 2:03 PM on October 10, 2009

From Brussels it would be really easy to do a day-trip into Ghent.
posted by mannequito at 2:35 PM on October 10, 2009

Best answer: You can also fly into London and take the Eurostar to Brussels, but it would likely be more expensive than flying to Paris and taking the TGV. It kind of depends - if you can get a cheaper flight into London than Paris, the train cost difference might even out.

From Brussels, you can take a day trip to many parts of Belgium. Antwerp is only about an hour's train ride from Brussels and has many museums, and is easily walkable. I usually only stop in Brussels for a day or so, but do head to the Grand Place. Of course, there are many chocolate shops in Belgium, which should keep a 4 year old occupied for at least a little while!
posted by bedhead at 3:15 PM on October 10, 2009

There is a toy museum in Brussels. When are you visiting Brussels ? Here is an english language website where you can find events and here is a french-speaking with more content.
posted by Baud at 3:28 PM on October 10, 2009

The best things to do in Brussels are: eat waffles; eat french fries; eat mussels; eat chocolate; drink beer. I would wager that the 4 year old would be up for at least 3 of these 5 activities.

I think there might also be a Tintin museum. And I'm sure the little one would get a kick out of the mannekin pis statue!!!
posted by imalaowai at 7:40 PM on October 10, 2009

Having used the TGV station in CDG airport in Paris, be warned that it can be quite crowded in the mornings with arrivals from around the world using the station to reach pretty much all of western Europe.

You can buy train tickets in advance online using the Voyages-SNCF site as explained here and pick up your tickets with your printed confirmation number at the station inside the ticket office (but not a machine, unless you've got a French bank card). Give yourself a few hours between your scheduled arrival time and the departure time for your train; there are plenty of cafes and shops on the "arrivals" side of things at CDG to keep you busy for a bit.

The London option is a hassle with a four-year-old - you'd have to get from Heathrow/Gatwick airports to St Pancras International Station in the city center, which would involve a longish Tube journey, and very possibly stairs, and have the additional hassle of not landing in the Schengen zone, which means a passport check between London and Brussels. Land in Paris and you're done with immigration for the entire trip.
posted by mdonley at 12:30 PM on October 11, 2009

I've lived in Brussels for 4 years and just moved back to the states this month. I've always found Amsterdam (Schipol) to be the cheapest hub airport for going into and out of Brussels - there are usually direct flights from most of the US, and it's just a quick half hour hop over to Brussels. Check with KLM.

I don't deal with kids much, but I suspect mini-Europe and the BD museum would be of interest. There is also a small water-park next to mini-Europe, if the weather is reasonable (it's Brussels so it won't be). The Natural Sciences museum isn't bad either, dinosaurs and all that. The Africa museum is pretty good (the tram runs out to Tervuren so it's easy to get to, despite being out of the city). It might be a bit dull for a 4 year old, but they do have some good animal exhibits (the insect section in particular is really interesting).

I'm sure you can check other askmefi threads for general Brussels entertainment.

Please be careful with your wallet/purse and luggage. Nearly everyone I know who has come to Brussels has been robbed, myself included more times than I'd like to admit. If anyone bumps into you, if a stranger acts too friendly, or if you witness any kind of commotion, your immediate instinct should be to check and watch your possessions.

Have fun!
posted by skintension at 12:44 PM on October 11, 2009

Any by "US" I mean "North America". Sorry. :)
posted by skintension at 12:45 PM on October 11, 2009

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