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Trip Report Trip Report: Ghent, Normandy and Brittany

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Trip report--Ghent, Normandy and Brittany. Second posting to clean it up.

Here are items we used to prepare for the trip, and took on the trip:
the Green Guide for Brittany
the Green Guide for France
Discovering the Villages of France by Michael Busselle
The Garden Lover?s Guide to France
Ghent web site for a B&B
Gîtes de France for B&B?s in France
Michelin Atlas Routier et touristique
Michelin Red Guide
A Food Lover?s Guide to France

Note: if I give specific information about a B&B or a restaurant, it is because I recommend it. Those that should be forgotten remain unnamed.

We started our trip in Belgium, staying in Ghent at the recommendation of friends who felt that Ghent or Antwerp was preferable to Bruges. From the Brussels airport we had a direct train connection to Ghent. We found our B&B through the Ghent web page, choosing first by geographical location and then by what was available in the area. The location was perfect, the room was in the ?courtyard? and was very quiet. I put courtyard in quotation marks because we were on the second floor and what had been a courtyard was now a covered space with a deck on top. The weather was perfect for us to have breakfast on the deck every morning. Had the weather been otherwise the room had a large sitting area in front of a fire place with a small table for writing or having breakfast. The one quirkiness: the bathroom was behind a wall but had no door. For availability, contact Anne Gourhant Steyaert (annegourhant@hot mail com) Burgstraat 25, 9000 Gent. Ghent has a nice old town and a wonderful museum of decorative arts. Meals were nothing to rave about except for a very nice one in the old town called The Blue House (?), in Flemish of course. Our hostess had recommended it.
We did take the train to Bruges for a day. The last time we were there was 32 years ago. My wife was pregnant and was feeling queasy whenever we were within 50 yards of a canal because of the stench. I am glad to report that the canals have been cleaned up. We did the touristy things, went to the former hospital, now museum, had a great view from the city hall tower (the music box for the bells is something to see), admired the Beginjhof, ate a second rate meal in the center of town at first rate prices. We should have known better but found the sandwich stores only after the meal; I would generally recommend sandwiches for lunch. My impression is that the business district of a town (except when tourism is the business) has sandwich stores and delicatessens offering a wide variety of sandwiches at incredibly low prices. Bruges is pristine and lives off tourism, as do other towns in Europe (Rothenburg and Carcassonne come to mind). I simply do not care for this ahistorical purity and am glad that our friends recommended Ghent. If you never saw Bruges, you should visit it; but I would skip a second visit in favor of other places in Belgium.

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