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trip in September to Austria, Belgium and France

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Will be flying into Vienna, Austria in September to visit with family for approx 1 week. From there, we are interested in seeing WW II historical sites in (maybe Germany), Belgium, Luxembourg and Normandy beach. We will rent car in Austria to see family but will return car to Vienna. Any suggestions as to best way to travel (4 people) to get to Battle of Bulge and Luxembourg sites and then on to Normandy ? Any sites, museums that we should not miss. Will probably fly back out of Paris. We will be there approx 3 weeks total. Thanks for any ideas.

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    I think you would be best off with a car in Belgium and Luxembourg. I've seen directions to some of the Battle of the Bulge sites here but they are convoluted (trains and local buses), and with 4 people it would be more economical anyway in a car. Also the Ardennes really comes into its own in a car. However, bear in mind that cross-border drop-offs attract hefty fees in many cases, so do your research on that.

    Where are you going in Germany? Are you interested in memorials, battle sites or former concentration camps? There are places literally all over Germany from north to south, so wherever you're going, something will be nearby. Not that it's very near to Belgium or Luxembourg but I'd consider Dresden (the whole city was firebombed near the end of WWII and has been painstakingly reconstructed - very amazing). Berlin is still pockmarked and has the Holocaust Memorial, the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (memorial church), which is left in a ruined state as a warning to future generations, as well as all the Cold War sites (remnants of the Wall, Checkpoint Charlie). I'm probably not the one to recommend camps or Hitler sites, I find them ghastly and painful, but there are many Fodorites who know these well and will be able to contribute much to your knowledge of these. Outside the city of Nuremberg is the site of the Nuremberg Rallies (disclaimer: I haven't been), and inside the city is the Sebalduskirche, which was also rebuilt from scratch almost. Inside you will find a very sobering series of photos documenting the reconstruction. And in Mainz (and also in Metz, France) you will find cathedrals with windows designed by the Jewish artist Marc Chagall as a symbol of reconciliation between the faiths. (Mainz: Stefansdom, Metz: St Étienne de Metz) They are very worthwhile. That's just a few to get things started for you.

    Lavandula

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