Are you visiting the Capital of Europe, Brussels?
While there, how about you do a quick day tour to Paris, the Capital of Light?
Yes, this is entirely possible. You can do a day trip from Brussels to Paris and explore the best of both cities.
In fact, with an early arrival and a good plan for the French capital, you’ll have enough time to discover the most popular attractions in the city.
This detailed guide will show you our practical tips and suggestions on how to plan a trip to Paris, so you can maximize your stay.
Ready to learn?
Let’s hop on!
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Visa, Currency, and Language Tips for Paris
France is a member of both the Schengen Area and the European Union. This means one thing. If you’re a holder of a U.S. passport, and it expires in over 6 months, you can stay in France for up to 90 days without a visa.
Check the official website of the European Union for the full list of visa requirements.
Besides being a member of the EU and the Schengen area, France is also a part of the Eurozone. As such, the French use the euro as their currency.
Paris is chock-full of ATM machines, so you can easily withdraw money everywhere. But if cash-free payments are your cup of traveling tea, don’t worry. Paying with a card is possible virtually anywhere.
France has one official language – French. In Paris, a good number of people, especially the young crowds, understand English.
However, if you’d like to impress locals with the language of love, we’ve prepared a small table with five basic words and phrases in French:
|Hello / Good morning||Bonjour|
|Thank you / Thank you very much||Merci / Merci beaucoup|
|Can you please help me?||Pouvez-vous m’aider?|
|Yes / No||Oui / Non|
How to Get from Brussels to Paris
You can reach Paris from Brussels in several ways. Find every one of them below:
Our recommended way to travel from Brussels to Paris on a day trip is by train.
All trains depart from Brussels Midi/Zuid Station and arrive at Paris Gare de Nord. Here’s all you need to know about this transport:
- The train ride from Brussels to Paris takes between 1:26 and 1:31 hours, contingent on the type of train you choose.
- More than 20 trains travel daily in both directions, every day of the week, even on Sundays.
- The first train from Brussels to Paris leaves Brussels Midi/Zuid Station at 6:06 AM Monday through Saturday, and at 7:17 AM on Sunday. The last one departs at 9:13 PM Monday through Friday, at 8:16 PM on Saturday, and at 9:13 PM on Sunday.
- The first train from Paris to Brussels leaves Gare de Nord at 6:13 AM Monday through Friday, at 7:43 AM on Saturday, and at 8:07 AM on Sunday. The last one departs at 8:55 PM Monday through Friday, at 8:46 PM on Saturday, and at 6:46 PM on Sunday.
- To secure the best prices, purchase your tickets in advance. Weekend prices are occasionally cheaper.
- Important: Be at the train station no less than 20 minutes prior departure, so you have time to find your train and board without hassle.
Tip: You can also visit Paris easily on a day tour by train from these gorgeous European capitals:
If you choose to fly from Brussels to Paris, here’s what you should know:
- Brussels Airlines is the only company that has direct flights from Brussels to Paris and from Paris to Brussels. The flight duration is 55-60 minutes.
- The Belgian carrierflies from Brussels to Paris twice in the morning only – at 6:40 AM and 8:15 AM.
- Brussels Airlinesflies from Paris to Brussels twice per day, too. And again, it’s only in the morning – at 8:40 AM and 10:15 AM.
- You can’t fly for a day trip and back, but it’s possible to mix different transportation modes.
- The airplanes take off from Brussels Zaventem Airport (BRU) and land at Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG). Traveling from Charles De Gaulle to the city center takes 32 minutes by train.
- Don’t forget to calculate waiting times at both airports to your trip duration, even if you’re flying only with a carry-on.
All buses from Brussels to Paris are direct and take between 3:40 and 5:45 hours.
Two companies run between the two capitals – BlaBlaCar Bus and FlixBus.
The earliest leaves Brussels at 2:35 AM (BlaBlaCar Bus), which means you’ll arrive in Paris in the early morning. This will give you plenty of time to explore.
The earliest FlixBus is at 7:00 AM, which will bring you to the French capital at 11:15. This is still early enough to cover some ground.
Buses depart from either Brussels North or Brussels South (Midi), and most of them arrive in Paris at the Bercy Seine station.
The last bus back from Paris to Brussels depart at 6:45 PM (BlaBlaCar Bus) and 10:40 PM (FlixBus).
Prices start at €4.99 ($5.55), with tickets costing a bit less for the FlixBus rides.
The fastest route from Brussels to Paris is via A1.
Driving takes about 4 hours, which is about as fast as flying. The distance is 196 mi (315.5 km).
Over 8 hours of driving is very tiring for a day trip from Brussels to Paris. Plus, parking in the French capital isn’t a pleasant experience. That’s why we don’t recommend this type of transportation.
What to Do on a Full-day Trip from Brussels to Paris
With the practicalities out of the way, let’s get to the exciting stuff!
Paris is one of the Top 3 most visited cities in the world. This means only one thing – there are tons of things to do and see in Paris. In the section below, we’ll give you the best ideas for a day trip.
Note: Although visiting every spot on the list below is possible, you’ll have to spend just a few minutes on each. For that reason, we suggest you pick only what interests you the most. At the end of the day, if you like Paris on a day trip from Brussels, you can always come revisit.
The Louvre – The Biggest Art Museum in the World
If you worship museums, you shouldn’t miss going to the Louvre.
With its whopping 782, 910 sq. ft. (72, 735 sq. m.), the museum is the size of 280 tennis courts. This Paris fact makes the Louvre the world’s largest museum. You’ll need to spend more than five weeks admiring every single item on display.
The Louvre packs a mesmerizing punch of art, culture, and history. Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace are some of the museum’s most popular works of art.
In our opinion, waiting to have a picture with The Mona Lisa is not worth the wait, especially when you have just one day in Paris. Why? Because not only it’s quite small, but also there’s always a huge crowd waiting to check it out.
Tip: Even if you spend your entire day trip to Paris trying to cover the Louvre, it still won’t be enough. Our recommendation? Pick two or three collections, and spend about two hours in the museum. Leave the rest for when you revisit the French capital.
Now, while it’s true that getting your ticket at the museum is €2 ($2.15) cheaper, waiting in a huge line to buy them there is not worth the stress. That’s why we highly recommend you get it online. The best option is this skip-the-line Louvre ticket.
Tuileries Garden – the Verdant Lungs of the French Capital
When you’re done touring the magnificent Louvre, you can relax in the lush Tuileries Garden.
Just five minutes on foot from the museum, Jardin des Tuileries covers more than 22 hectares between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the garden attracts over 14 million visitors each year.
King Henri II’s widow, Queen Catherine de Médici, created the Tuileries Garden in the 16th century. At first, it was a royal garden. In the 17th century, it became one of the first public gardens in Paris.
It derives its name from Palais des Tuileries, which the Queen commissioned in 1564.
Entrance to the park is free. Don’t miss the Terrasse, the Orangerie, Jardin du Carrousel, the Grand Carré, and the Moat of Charles V.
Champs Élysées – Paris’ Most Symbolic Boulevard
When you reach Place de la Concorde, exit the Tuileries Garden. Then, continue marching along the iconic, 1.5-mile-long Avenue des Champs Élysées.
Chic boutique shops, fancy 5-star hotels, world-famous cabarets, numerous palaces and museums, and palate-teasing restaurants will keep you company along the way.
Depending on how often you stop to marvel at the windows, the stroll to reach the Triumphal Arch at the opposite end of the boulevard can take anywhere from 30 minutes to half a day.
Champs Élysées acts as the site of the biggest military parade in Europe. It happens on Bastille Day, France’s national holiday – July 14.
The Triumphal Arch (L’Arc de Triomphe) – A Sweeping Vista Over 12 Boulevards
L’Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (Triumphal Arch of the Star) is the full name of one of the top landmarks Paris is known for. The arch is in the center of a roundabout that looks like a star from above.
L’Arc de Triomphe is a monument that honors everyone who lost their lives for France during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.
Even if you’re not a history fan, it’s worth taking the elevator to the roof. A sweeping vista of Paris over 12 avenues awaits you at the top.
Tip: To skip the queues and maximize your time, get your ticket from this link.
Warning: The Arch sits in the heart of a huge roundabout. That’s why we highly recommend using one of the underpasses to reach it – either at Champs Élysées or at Avenue de la Grande Armée.
The Eiffel Tower – The 19th-Century Symbol of Paris
Just 30 minutes on foot from the Triumphal Arch you’ll find the Eiffel Tower.
Its creator – Gustave Eiffel – erected the 1,067ft- (324m-) wrought iron structure in 1889. He also helped with the construction of one of the symbols of New York – the Statue of Liberty.
Peculiar Fact: The tower’s highest platform sits at 906 ft. (276 m). This makes it the tallest observation spot in the entire European Union. With some courage and fitness levels, you can always go up and down via the stairs. However, we suggest using the elevator to save time on your day trip from Brussels to Paris.
Every year, 7 million people frequent the Eiffel Tower, making it the most-visited paid landmark in the world.
This translates to one thing. Whenever you want to explore it, there will be a queue. Plan at least two hours for waiting, ascending, and taking photos. To avoid wasting time, we recommend purchasing your tickets in advance. Use this link to do so.
Tip: If you can, visit the Eiffel Tower a bit before sunset. That way, you’ll see Paris during the daytime and at night. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a jaw-dropping sunset, too!
River Seine Tours – One of the Best Ways to Sightsee Paris
Most River Seine cruises start in the vicinity of the Eiffel Tower
After walking for several miles on your day trip from Brussels to Paris, why not rest by taking a 1-hour boat trip?
In this way, you’ll kill two birds with one stone. You’ll not only relax your weary feet but also explore some of the Parisian attractions from the water.
One of the greatest things about the cruise is the many bridges you’ll pass under. Within Paris, 37 bridges connect the shores of the River Seine. The boat ride will give you a chance to see half of them. The most famous ones are Pont Neuf, Pont des Arts, and Pont d’Alexandre.
You’ll also pass by the islands Île Saint-Louis and Île de la Cité. The latter houses the city’s most iconic cathedral – Notre-Dame de Paris.
On April 15th, 2019, a fire partially destroyed one of the most gorgeous religious temples in the world and the true epitome of French Gothic architecture.
Construction of Our Lady of Paris began in 1160. In 1260, it was mostly complete. The cathedral’s flying buttress, its huge rose windows, and one of the largest organs in the world are what make it truly unique.
French authorities plan to restore Notre Dame in time for the launch of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
La Défense – The Modern Area of Paris
Like contemporary architecture, wide-open spaces, and mind-bending high-risers?
Then, you should head to La Défense. Popular as the Manhattan of Paris, the district houses the headquarters of many local and international companies.
The business area is home not only to skyscrapers, though. There, you can also marvel at the La Grande Arche de la Défense (The Great Arc of the Defense), which is both a building and a monument. Measuring 360 ft. (110 m) in height, the Arch is part of the perspective from the Louvre to the Triumphal Arch.
Over 8 million people visit La Défense every year. They go there not only because of the area’s modern looks but also for its open-air museum, which is the biggest in France. More than 70 art pieces and statues by modern artists like César, Joan Miró, and François Morellet await you in the neighborhood.
Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre – Heart-Pumping Panoramas Over the French Capital
If you’re arriving in or departing from Paris by train, don’t miss the magnificent Sacré-Cœur Basilica. You can reach it within 20 minutes on foot from Gare du Nord.
By visiting butte Montmartre, the highest point of Paris, you’ll kill two birds with one stone:
- You’ll marvel at the unusual yet majestic architectural appearance of the basilica.
- You’ll admire a stunning vista over the city.
The basilica might be a little over 100 years old, but it’s the second most-visited landmark in Paris. So plan your tour carefully to avoid crowds.
After exploring the gorgeous church, continue discovering Montmartre.
You can either get a portrait picture at Place du Tertre square, visit Le Mur de Je t’aime (The Wall of Love), or sit at one of the many outdoor coffee shops in the area. After going up and down the hill, you’ll need to replenish your energy.
As an alternative, you can discover Montmartre Cemetery, one of the coolest and most unusual things to do in Paris.
Food Tips for Your Day Trip from Brussels to Paris
If we were doing a day tour from Brussels to Paris, we’d just pack a few sandwiches, a couple of protein bars, and some water. This is how you can maximize your time and cover more spots.
But if you’d like to take it easy, visit an attraction or two, and have a good meal in between, these battle-tested tips will help you:
- Avoid the central spots. The restaurants around the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Champs Élysées are extremely overpriced. We’re talking more than €10 ($11) for a beer and over €35-40 ($39-44) for a mediocre meal.
- Want to have a quick bite? Crêperies, kebab houses, Asian restaurants, and sandwich delis are a great bang for your buck. Plus, due to the nature of their cuisines, the food is ready in minutes. This will save you some valuable time for exploration.
- If you’re a sweet tooth, you’ll regret not trying French macaroons. Even if you’ve tasted them somewhere else already, the Parisian ones are the real deal. The sugar fan inside of you will be forever thankful for the delectable treat.
A Day Trip from Brussels to Paris – Art Museums, High-End Shopping, and Heart-Stopping Vistas
Paris is one of Europe’s most fascinating capitals. Its cosmopolitan vibes, world-class museums, unmatched appeal, and outstanding architecture make you crave more and more.
You have tons of things to do and see there. A day trip from Brussels to Paris probably won’t be enough to cover everything. But you’ll be able to feel the city’s unique atmosphere.
Plus, with good planning and our Paris travel tips, we believe you’ll make the most of your time and discover both capitals.
Now, we’d like to hear from you.
Have you been to Paris before?
If not, what would be the first spot you’ll visit there?