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Belgium Questions

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We are planning to visit Belgium (plus Amsterdam and part of France) from mid-Sept to late Oct. The plan WAS to spend 3 days each in Ghent and Bruges (and simply transit Antwerp and Brussels, since we are not that keen on big cities). But now I am reading fairly negative things about Bruges, that it is too touristy and artificial. We'll also spend a couple of extra days looking at the WW1 battlefields. What are the views of members about Bruges? If we just gave it one day, can you suggest another place in Belgium worth spending a couple of days? Will we find things "closed for the season?"
I have heard good things about train services there'; also we can take a tour to Ypres etc.
Any need for a car? Later we will head for the Loire and Dordogne for a week and there I believe one needs a car to get to the small, out-of-the-way spots. Views?

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