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2 cities (Paris, Amsterdam), 3 kids and 5 days - Need help!

2 cities (Paris, Amsterdam), 3 kids and 5 days - Need help!

Feb 2nd, 2010, 05:55 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 5
2 cities (Paris, Amsterdam), 3 kids and 5 days - Need help!

Last year we took a vacation between London/Switzerland. The advice I got from you guys was simply fabulous! Thank you.

So this year... my dear Fodorites...we plan to go to Paris/Amsterdam. Here are the details:
We arrive in Paris on 29th of March and then fly out on the 4th of April. The children ages are 3, 8 and 10.

1. Should we take a train to Amsterdam straight from Paris airport (CDG) or stay in Paris for a day or two...then go to Amsterdam?

2. Two solid days in Amsterdam....are they enough?

3. What's the best area to stay in Paris...considering that we will have to take the train to Amsterdam? Or where is the train station from where we travel to Amsterdam?

4. What's the best way to make that train reservation?

5. Any special passes that we should consider?

I have tried to fly into Paris and then fly back from Amsterdam but that is no easy feat. Anyone who may have done that before? I can add a day but only if you folks think its REALLY worth the damage it will do to my work/wallet

Appreciate your help.
frankyonus is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2010, 06:42 PM
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it should cost very little to split arrival/departure cities if you find an airline that flies to both cities... i.e. delta, air france...
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2010, 06:49 PM
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Is the difference between round trip to CDG that much different from an open-jaw flight? Is the open-jaw so much more expensive that it does not compensate for not having to back track and not having to stay unproductive last night at the departure city?

The Thalys train to Amsterdam leaves Gare du Nord in Paris. There are often discounts on this route - provided you don't wait too long. For example, www.voyages-sncf.com is showing €35 Smoove non-refundable fare for 8.25am departure for 3/30 while the fully refundable fare is €123 and a restricted fare is €62.

For a single shot trip, passes never sense given available discounts.

While the train leaves Gare du Nord, choosing a hotel based on a single event (train departure) probably does not make sense. Gare du Nord is well integrated into Paris public transit system. If you have a lot of luggage, take a taxi.
greg is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2010, 06:49 PM
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Where are you flying from? That will help us in helping you.

1. If you arrive after a long flight, stay in Paris first before heading over to Amsterdam. Personally, with only 5 days and 3 kids, I wouldn't leave Paris, but it's your trip.

2. You could get by on 2 solid days in Amsterdam, especially with 3 young kids, but again, it depends on what you want to do while there. I'm guessing you might not want to visit the red light district or coffee shops, sticking to canal tours, weather permitting, Anne Frank's House, strolling about, and maybe a museum.

3. Best area to stay in Paris is a matter of preference, but with the kids, try to stay near the Luxembourg gardens, because there are some really outstanding playgrounds there. So maybe the 6th.

4. Best way to make a train reservation is on the SNCF website. Remember you get discounts for kids -- I seem to recall the youngest may go free.

5. Will have to check on that, but there's a lot of free or 50% off stuff for kids.

I've flown into Paris and back from Amsterdam -- at least from L.A. either on Air France or KLM.
Surfergirl is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 02:29 AM
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You should be able to fly open jaw, though it depends where you are flying from. Choose multiple cities in the booking options screen.

I would spend the first couple of days in Paris and then move to Amsterdam. Your kids will be confused by the time difference and moving them constantly won't help. From that point of view 5 days in Paris would be better, and more relaxed for you all. However it is your trip.

What do you want to see in Amsterdam? Choose a hotel in the centre so you can head back during the day if the 3 year old gets tired and needs a nap. If you want to go to the Anne Frankhuis then book your tickets online to avoid the queues.
If you are going to the van Gogh museum you can also buy your tickets online. There is a huge area of grass by the van Gogh which your kids can run around on for a while, or take them to the Vondel Park nearby, or at the other end of the city to the zoo or Nemo (science museum).

April 4th is Easter Sunday so you will need to check how public transport is running in Paris to get back to the airport, if you can't do an open jaw flight. It will be running a normal Sunday service in Amsterdam.

If you get the train within the Netherlands (not Thalys - other rules apply to that) then your 3 year old travels free and you can get €2,50 Railrunner tickets for the other two children.
hetismij is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 05:48 PM
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Fantastic. Many thanks for your help. We are flying from Dubai. After 2 days in Amsterdam...we fly out to Washington. Stay there for a 8 day period. No travelling in USA...just a family reunion. Then fly back through another European city.

Amsterdam...yes you got it Surfergirl. We just want to enjoy the ambiance...check out the canals...see any tulip gardens and just have coffee/icecream/street walking. No interest in red light and museum is a may be too (considering time constraints).

BTW, we are open to the other city on our way back. We have been to London and Paris. Rome is what we are trying to avoid during Easter. So any other thoughts are welcome. Should we consider stopping over at another European trip.

Yes its our trip and I will take all the responsibility for my blunders. But your open/candid advice is what keeps iy fun. So let the ideas coming...pleeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzz
frankyonus is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 08:17 PM
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I would have combined Amsterdam and Copenhagen, since Copenhagen is so appealing to kids (Little Mermaid, castles, pedestrian walkways, legos . . . .)

If your kids like French fries (I'm actually wondering if anyone DOESN'T like fries!), there are french fry stands on practically every corner. DO allow them to put mayo on top -- sounds nutty, but it's fresh, tasty mayo, and yummy! This is coming from someone who generally refuses mayo on anything, yuck!

Lots of good walking and shopping. Take the trams around town, they are good fun for the kids. I'm debating on suggesting the Rijksmuseum, but if you have the time, it's a rocking place for the kids, with kid tours and special theme searches. See http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/kinderen?lang=en

Right outside the museum is a little park/play area, in summer with fountains and water features. And an ice cream cart. Don't know what it's like in early Spring.
Surfergirl is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 02:21 AM
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In Amsterdam, I'd suggest the flower market, given your interests (you wouldn't have time for a day trip out to the bulbfields, even if there were much to see - not sure if there would be at that time anyway).
PatrickLondon is online now  
Feb 4th, 2010, 03:02 AM
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I'm confused. You are flying from Dubai to Paris, then travelling to Amsterdam, back to Paris onto the US and then back to another European city?
Why not fly to Paris spend time there, fly to the US and fly back to Amsterdam if you want to see Amsterdam, and fly back to Dubai from there? Or fly direct to Amsterdam from Dubai?
hetismij is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 03:19 AM
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You seem to love to pass through a lot of cities--"if it's Tuesday it must be" syndrome except you do it by plane instead of bus!!
Have you ever thought about spending "real" time in a city--like Paris--and find out what it really is all about?
Gretchen is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 04:56 AM
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Posts: 6
If I were you, I would rent a flat with yiur children even for 2 nights because you will be more confortable and it will be cheaper for you than the hotel. There are many agencies to rent a flat , but I cab highly recommend you http://www.1weekflat.com because they propose everuthing for family stay as a baby chair, a baby bed and baby sitter.
jules2305 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 06:31 AM
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I am also confused.... The ideas of Hetismij seem very sensible to me. Fly from Dubai to Paris, stay there for some time (if you want to you can always do some daytrips; Lille maybe, Disneyland for the kids, Versailles?), fly to Washington and fly back towards Dubai through Amsterdam (if you want to, you can make some daytrips here also).
TommieG is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 05:44 PM
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Now when I read my own message...it does look confusing

After your input, I have asked my travel agent to fly us to Amsterdam from Dubai...stay there for two day...go to DC.

Then come back to Paris...stay there for 5 days...fly back to Dubai.

He just jacks up the ticket price by over $130/person if I try to make the trip this way. The price he was originally quoting allowed my to stop over in Paris on my inbound and outbound flights.

So I gather its worth it for us to try and pay extra but avoid train travel between the two cities. Makes sense.

Any other thoughts?
frankyonus is offline  
Feb 5th, 2010, 07:46 AM
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Certainly a better plan, and you'll probably save that much in other transportation costs.
Gretchen is offline  
Feb 5th, 2010, 07:54 AM
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Absolutely a better plan, a more relaxed trip and worth the extra money imho.
Let me know if you need any advice on Amsterdam - though there is plenty to be found just by searching the forums.
hetismij is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 01:07 PM
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Thanks. We have bought the tickets now.

1. Please suggest a good website to make a apartment reservation in Paris for 6 night

2. Is it possible to leave luggage at CDG for 6 days? Cost?
frankyonus is offline  
Feb 10th, 2010, 04:56 PM
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Posts: 6
1. I used apartfromtherest.com and have good expierences with them.
2. At Terminal 2 at Charles de Gaulle Airport go to the "Bagages Du Monde". They will store your luggage for you. $15 per 24 hours.
RaySergio is offline  
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