|Subject: Re: Advance Train Reservations|
You need to understand first how train tickets work in Europe. There are tickets and there are reservations. Tickets get you on a train, and that's all you need for most ordinary trains. But, except for short haul commuter trains and such, you can also pay a few dollars for a seat reservation. This reserves you a specific seat on that train. The conductor will post that seat as reserved. Usually, you won't need a seat reservation, but we've found them handy to assure that the three of us have seats together.
Certain fast trains may require you to get a seat reservation as well as a ticket, and they usually combine them into a single fare rather like an airline ticket.
Assuming you are arriving in Europe a few days ahead of your first train travel you shouldn't have any problem getting tickets and reservations once there.
As to your individual trips, you might want to go to http://bahn.hafas.de and check out some routing click English in the upper right corner). For instance, Brussels to Tours does seem to involve either the TGV or Thalys high speed trains, but it also appears you will have to find your way across Paris to change trains.
The web site doesn't seem to recognize the name Mureen; do you have it right?
Do not make reservations from the USA through web sites like Raileurope; they overcharge and never show the discounts available.
It is possible to make reservations for journeys originating in France at http://www.sncf.com ; click on France as where you want to get the tickets; they will hold them. Some tickets can also be obtained through that Hafas site; I understand they will mail them, but it may be only for tickets related to Germany.
As to moneybelts, thieves love wallets, daypacks and purses, so be careful. I never have used a moneybelt, and after having my wallet stolen on the Metro I don't use a wallet. I just scatter things about my person: banknotes folded and carried in my left side pocket, credit card and ATM card in another pocket, etc. I figure that way they might be able to get one or the other but not all at once.
Regards, DAVE HATUNEN Tucson Arizona, out where the cacti grow