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1st time travelers need help planning Paris, Strasbourg, Bruges, Amsterdam

1st time travelers need help planning Paris, Strasbourg, Bruges, Amsterdam

Mar 28th, 2011, 08:11 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2011
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1st time travelers need help planning Paris, Strasbourg, Bruges, Amsterdam

My girlfriend and I from New York City and are flying into Paris on July 2 and out on July 15. We are both first time European travelers. Our tentative plan is to spend the first 3 nights in Paris and the last 4 nights in Paris. That leaves 6 nights to stay elsewhere. As of now, we'd like to spend 4 nights in Amsterdam, and one night in both Bruges and Strasbourg.

I understand taking the train from city to city is fairly easy, but I don't really know what makes the most sense here. I'm guessing that Paris and Amsterdam are both decent size transit hubs. Bruges and Strasbourg, probably not so much.

Ideally, we'd go from Paris to Strasbourg, to Bruges, to Amsterdam, back to Paris. Any advice on what would make the most sense taking into consideration cost and travel time? Paris->Strasbourg->Amsterdam->Bruges->Paris?

I started trying to put together some different options for caparison sake, but our trip is too far in advance to make certain train reservations. Want to start booking our lodging sooner than later though, so don't want to wait too long.

Any advice would be much appreciated! Any suggestions for what to do while in said cities would be great too!

Cheers,
-Sean
sean280 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 08:58 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 7,142
Your preliminary plan is OK but many will advise against traveling far distances (8 hrs+) to stay only one night.

Strasbourg in particular is out of the way. Strasbourg to Amsterdam by train is 9 hours. Strasbourg to Bruges by train is over 8 hours. HOWEVER, Paris to Strasbourg is only 2h 15m via high speed train.

It might make more sense to do Strasbourg as a long day trip and adjust plan to something like:
Four 5 nights in Paris with a day trip to Strasbourg
then to Bruges, then to Amsterdam and then back to Paris.

OR

First three nights in Paris
Overnight in Strasbourg
Back to Paris, then Bruges/Amsterdam and back to Paris.
bardo1 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 09:01 AM
  #3  
 
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Even Bruges and Strasbourg have excellent rail links - Strasbourg and Paris via the TGV-Est high-speed trains that go hourly or so -

You could take a train from Paris to Strasbourg - Strasbourg to Amsterdam - Amsterdam to Bruges and then Bruges to Paris

Bruges to Paris is via two different but about the same in time routes - you can go via Lille, France, changing there to a TGV to Paris - taking about 2.5 hours all told or you can go via Brussels and change to the Thalys train - but fares on the Thalys train vary widely - the cheaper route may well be via Lille - especially if you want to wait until Bruges to decide when to go - what time, etc. Thalys trains have an airline-style fare structure - to get the cheapest tickets you should book weeks in advance and then not be able to change nor refund - the route via Lille is a fairly flat fare structure so you can buy in Bruges and not lose much money.

As you are taking some long train trips I would suggest you innvestigate the France-Benelux Railpass, good ontrains in France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg (Lux is a real charmer IMO - put a day in there between Strasboug and Amsterdam - Lux is one of the most gorgeous cities in Europe as a deep gorge bisects the town. For lots of great info on trains in those countries and passes and alternatives I always spotlight these fantastic sites - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com. For train schedules in all of Europe I use the German Railways schdule site - www.bahn.de.

If you are both under 26 then you can get an especially cheap Youth Pass, valid in 2nd class.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 09:07 AM
  #4  
 
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If not doing the pass which lets you decide as you go along what trains to take - like from Amsterdam to Bruges you can hop any non-Thalys train to Antwerp then any of the frequent trains to Bruges, etc.

But in France you can get discounted tickets for Paris to Strasbourg if you want to lock yourself in way in advance - at www.voyages-sncf.com and if you want to take the Thalys either Brussels or Amsterdam to Paris then scour www.thalys.com for cheaper tickets - and if you just show up and buy a Thalys ticket then it may cost $100 or more than some of the deep discounted tickets that usually must be booked weeks in advance and cannot be changed, etc.

With a pass you would want to try to avoid Thalys trains because even with a pass you still must pay a surcharge/supplement fee of $13 in 2nd class - and if you go Amsterdam-antwerp-Bruges-Lille-Paris you would have only a required 3 euro TGV Lille to Paris fee that the pass would not cover.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 09:11 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
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I agree with bardo1.
Strasbourg can be a (long) day trip from Paris
instead of spending hours on trains .
Actually, you may consider other ,shorter, day trips from Paris and forget about Strasbourg ( it is a nice city, but
not spectacular in any way.)
danon is online now  
Mar 28th, 2011, 09:44 AM
  #6  
 
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I recommend staying on the Paris-Amsterdam corridor with your time limits. Take out Strasbourg and add Antwerp as a day visit on your way from Brugge to Amsterdam.

For an illustrated introduction to European trains see http://tinyurl.com/eym5b.

For what to do in and around Amsterdam I recommend typing hours in Amsterdam in the Search the Forums box above. The question has been asked here many times. Fodor's Forum has a large body of knowledge on A'dam.
spaarne is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 10:36 AM
  #7  
 
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Strasbourg to Bruges by train is over 8 hours. HOWEVER, Paris to Strasbourg is only 2h 15m via high speed train>

and if Paris to Bruges is only 2.5 hours then it can be much less than over 8 hours to Bruges? Right?
PalenQ is offline  
May 31st, 2011, 05:28 PM
  #8  
 
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and the above posted by the bloke who obviously runs White Tulip Hostel - Q for that bloke - have they yet to develop a purely black tulip - the elusive for centuries quest?
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 1st, 2011, 06:07 AM
  #9  
ira
 
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Hey Sean,

>Ideally, we'd go from Paris to Strasbourg, to Bruges, to Amsterdam, back to Paris.<

Your week in Paris is a good idea.

I suggest a short visit to any one of the three other spots, but not all of them.

ira is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 10:11 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2011
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We're taking roughly the same trip the first 2 weeks of July but opted for flying into Amsterdam and out from Paris with just the one Thalys trip in the middle to connect the 2. We thought about adding a 3rd city but there's just so much to see in the 2 that we opted for really exploring the 2 cities.
BlueDaddyCool is offline  

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