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Where should we spend a week in Europe?

Hello, everyone.

My partner and I will be attending a conference in Belgium from July 13-19. We plan to spend an additional 7-10 days in Europe, but are having trouble deciding where to go. This will be my partner's first trip abroad, while I've previously been to Spain, England, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

We live in Seattle, so ideally we'd like to choose a destination with plenty of sunlight and good weather. Somewhere on the coast would be wonderful, but given the fact that it will be the high season, I'm a bit concerned that anywhere near a beach will be too overcrowded for us to fully enjoy.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a place/places that are easily accessible either to or from Belgium, offer plenty of history/culture, won't be too overcrowded, and where we can find affordable accommodation? Also, any suggestions on whether we should plan to do our traveling before or after our conference? The two tentative blocks of time we are considering are either July 4-23ish or July 11-30ish. Any help will be greatly appreciated!

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