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-   -   6 day european adventure Paris + Brussels? (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/6-day-european-adventure-paris-brussels-774720/)

clueless20 Mar 23rd, 2009 04:29 PM

6 day european adventure Paris + Brussels?
 
friend and i just booked tickets to paris and brussels for may. we have 6 days and definitely wanted to go paris, but weren't sure on the 2nd city - the requirements were that the 2nd city had to be somewhere continental flies (to allow an open jaw ticket), be relatively close to paris (didnt want to waste too much time getting to the 2nd city), and be on sale thru continental! :) ). are there any other cities you guys would recommend for the 2nd city (we're still w/in the 24 hr cancel period). i've been to madrid, barcelona, rome, and london, and was hoping the 2nd city would be one i havent been to before as i probably wont have time to travel much the next 5 yrs. we're also taking a family trip the next week to berlin, munich, salzburg, vienna, and prague so those are all out too :) if you guys think brussels is an okay choice, how would you split the days? 4 paris/2 brussels or 3/3, 5/1? we're planning on taking a train (1.5 hrs!) to get from paris to brussels. thanks in advance for any help! :)

chicagolori Mar 23rd, 2009 05:27 PM

I would savor Paris the entire time. 6 days in Paris is not even scratching the surface ..

adrienne Mar 23rd, 2009 06:32 PM

I agree with above poster. I wouldn't want to give up any time in Paris for Brussels. Six days is not much time in Paris as there is so much to do. If you are really set on another city, how about Amsterdam.

yk Mar 23rd, 2009 06:59 PM

I also would rather spend 6 days in Paris, perhaps do one or two (max) day trips. There's so much to see/do in Paris that your 6 days will fly by quickly.

If you are antsy and want a 2nd city, I'd choose Amsterdam over Brussels.

clueless20 Mar 23rd, 2009 07:36 PM

thanks so much for the quick replies! :) the only thing is i've been to paris before twice for a week each time (not much compared to a lot of you guys, i know :) ), and both of us really want to hit a second city. ams was definitely in the consideration, but i somehow forgot to check the price to ams and didnt realize it went down so much! :( may need to check w/continental to see if we can switch cities... thanks everyone!

clueless20 Mar 23rd, 2009 07:42 PM

actually on second thought maybe going to ams w/this particular friend might not be a good idea (same friend who failed a drug test for testing positive for marijuana back in the days...). i think i'll save ams for later (and w/someone who is less likely to get us in trouble a few days before my new job starts ;) )

lavandula Mar 23rd, 2009 10:29 PM

Don't discount Brussels - it is quite a pretty city and there is quite a lot to see - and Belgium has really fabulous food. Plus it's very close to Paris in the Thalys. If you are an Art Nouveau fan the architecture in Brussels is really great. Worth at least 2 days.

Vttraveler Mar 24th, 2009 02:29 AM

I agree with lavandula that Brussels has a lot to see. The beer is another plus for that destination. There are also several easy day trips (Gent, Brugge) if you decide to spend several days in Brussels.

yk Mar 24th, 2009 07:37 AM

I like Brussels a lot but that's because of my interests. In general, I think most people prefer Amsterdam to Brusses because there are more sights that interest a greater majority of tourists.

Like lavandula says, if you like Art Nouveau, you can easily spend 1-2 days JUST visiting the Art Nouveau buildings, Musee Horta, and doing the Art Nouveau walk.

And if you like art - esp Flemish Primitives and Surrealism - the you'd be in heaven because the Royal Museums of Art in Brusses have a great collection. The Magritte Museum is supposed to open some time this year (not sure if it's opened yet).

StCirq Mar 24th, 2009 07:50 AM

I love Brussels, but agree that it's not for everyone. There are a lot of possibilities within France itself. You could take a train to Avignon or Strasbourg or La Rochelle or Rouen or the Champagne region for a couple of days...and those are only the first ones that come to mind; there are literally dozens of places you could scoot off to.

clueless20 Mar 24th, 2009 10:52 AM

thanks so much everyone for all the wonderful replies! :) i have to admit i havent seen much art nouveau before so i'm excited to see some in brussels! :) a day trip to brugge sounds great too - i think we might leave 1.5 days for just brussels or 2-2.5 days for both brussels and brugge. decisions, decisions! :)

yk Mar 24th, 2009 11:03 AM

If you do go to Bruges (which I LOVE), try to make it an overnight trip and avoid the weekends. I've been there 3 times but it wasn't until my last visit that I stayed overnight (3 nights total). When all the daytrippers are gone for the day, the town really settles down and is truly beautiful with the streets empty and all the buildings lit up. Be sure you watch the movie <u>In Bruges</u> before you go.

For Art nouveau walk in Brussels, this website is helpful and you can download walking maps:
http://www.bruxellesartnouveau.be/

Don't forget to pay a visit to Musee Horta; and at least the outside of the Musical Instrument Museum (beautiful building).

clueless20 Mar 24th, 2009 12:19 PM

thanks yk for the movie suggestion and website! :) i'd love to stay the night in brugge but i think it'll be difficult as we'll be traveling in the morning from paris to brussels, spend the rest of the day in brussels, visit brugge the following full day (as it's easier to go paris-brussels and paris-brugge), and fly out early the next morning from brussels (so we'll need to be back in brussels the night before). sorry, that's confusing. in other words:

Day 1-4 Paris
Day 5 early AM train to Brussels. spend the rest of the day in Brussels
Day 6 early AM train to Brugge, late train back to Brussels
Day 7 early AM flight to US

does this seem like a resonable itinerary? thanks! :)

yk Mar 24th, 2009 12:30 PM

One suggestion:

Take the direct Thalys from Paris-Bruges in the evening of Day 4 (or direct Thalys Paris-Brussels then change for local train to Bruges). Even if you get into Bruges at 10pm, you can still walk around the city at night and get a feel.

The direct Paris-Bruges train runs once a day in the evening (around 6 or 7pm), with a stop in Brussels but you don't need to get off. If you can't take that one, just take any that goes to Brussels-Midi and change for local train to Bruges.

I prefer taking long-distance trains in the evening because that's a time when most sightseeing spots are closed, and instead of eating a meal at a restaurant, I can just grab a to-go meal on the train. It helps maximize my sightseeing time.

When you are out sightseeing in Bruges on Day 5, you'll be in town before most daytrippers arrive (usually after 10am). At end of Day 5, head to Brussels and spend Day 6 in Brussels.

clueless20 Mar 24th, 2009 12:39 PM

another option is we could stay in 3 hotels: paris, brugge, and brussels and do:

Day 1-4 Paris
Day 5 early AM train to Brussels, another train to Brugge, spend day in Brugge
Day 6 morning in Brugge, afternoon and evening in Brussels
Day 7 early AM flight to US

Days 5-7 are all weekdays, so hopefully wont be as crowded :) i would prefer not staying in 3 hotels (i hate packing and unpacking), but like the idea of in essence going from paris to brugge as we'll be arriving in the nord station and taking another train from there to brugge. what do you experts think? thanks in advance! :)

clueless20 Mar 24th, 2009 01:00 PM

wow yk, thanks so much for the excellent suggestions! :) it makes sense to leave paris the night before as paris hotels undoubtedly should be more expensive than brussels or brugge, and sightseeing will be more limited at night. we're on the same wavelength in terms of switching brugge and brussels days! :) sorry about the nord, midi mixup, i'm getting confused! the only slight difference about leaving paris a day earlier is the train price. leaving the night of Day 4 - direct train would be 58 euros or 38.5 (paris-brussels) + 4.5 (brussels-brugge)=43 euros vs the 0925 paris-brussels train at a promotional 25 euros. i'm confident that the savings in an extra night hotel stay in belgium (vs paris) for the 2 of us would make up the 27 euros difference however, plus we all know that experiences are priceless (as is time saved!)! :)

Day 1-3 Paris

Day 4 late PM or Day 5 early AM (most likely Day 4 late PM) train to Brussels, another train to Brugge

Day 5 day in Brugge
Day 6 morning in Brugge, afternoon and evening in Brussels
Day 7 early AM flight to US


is this better? thanks again! :)

nannibray Apr 1st, 2009 05:24 AM

Clueless - Sounds like you have a wonderful trip planned. You should have beautiful weather at that time also.

Could you share the name of the hotel you are staying at in Belgium the night before your flight home? We need a hotel and want one that is easy to get to the airport. ie. taxi from hotel to Central station, then train to airport.
Thanks UCH!
Nannibray

Guenmai Apr 1st, 2009 05:37 AM

Base yourself 6 days in Paris and then jump on the Thalys train up at Gare de Nord and zip up to Belgium for the day. The Thayls takes an hour and a half and is non stop.

When you get into Brussels, the second-stop, and final station into Brussels, directly across the street from the station is one of those tour buses that goes to different tourist sites in Brussels. You pay one price and jump on and off it wherever you want. I didn't take it as I was up in Belgium for a day, from Paris, to go to a museum. But, I've been to Belgium many times over many decades. Happy Travels!

clueless20 Apr 1st, 2009 06:06 PM

thanks nannibray and guenmai for your kind comments! nannibray, i pricelined the htoel so i'm not sure if it's convenient to the airport (i hope so) - it was the nh brussels city center, but it was a great price on priceline ($58 bid + ~12 tax - be sure to check out www.betterbidding.com ! ) thanks guenmai for the tourbus suggestion, we'll definitely check that out when we get there. we've already booked hotels in belgium so we'll be spending a little more than a day there, but at least we'll get to go to brugge! :) thanks for all the responses!

nannibray Apr 4th, 2009 01:27 PM

Hi Clueless. Well, I bit the bullet and bid on priceline for a hotel in Brussels. Bid $70 for a 4* airport hotel and was rejected, so I bid on a 4* Brussels city ($70 also) and guess what! I also got the Nh Brussels City Center! (spent a few more bucks than you, but I am happy)

Thanks so much for your help! I do think it is a very nice hotel but not too sure of the location.
I e-mailed the hotel asking how far they were from Central Station and also Grand Place. I'm sure it will be fine. We may have to taxi to Central station the day we leave, but then it is quick to the airport.

We leave for our trip April 20 and begin in Croatia. (Belgium is just a 5 day stopover for us at the end of our trip.

Have a great time in Paris and Belgium!
Mary Ann


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