Amsterdam-France Summer 2018

Old Dec 29th, 2017, 12:51 PM
  #1  
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Amsterdam-France Summer 2018

I'm looking to travel with my family (2 adults, 3 kids) to Amsterdam this summer for a few days. From there we want to travel to France and visit Normandy (2-3 days), Loire Valley (3 days) and then Paris (5 days). We have 14 full days to do this. My question is: Is it best to take the train from Amsterdam to Lille and rent a car to then go to Normandy (Bayeux) then Loire Valley before heading to Paris? Can you rent a car in one place (Lille) and return in another (Paris)? If anyone has an itinerary suggestion I'd love to hear it.
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Old Dec 29th, 2017, 02:39 PM
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Lille would work but you have to change stations between Lille-Europa and Lille Flandres often - short half-mile walkway links the two.

Book trains far in advance for cheapest prices - huge differences sometimes on Thalys trains (www.thalys.com) for Amsterdam-Brussels for example.

Yes you can usually return cars at different places if dealing with a major car rental place - I'd drive Lille-Normandy-Loire and return car adt St-Pierre-des-Corps (Tours' main line TGV station) for trains back to Paris.

For lots on trains check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. But book early TGVs too at www.voyages-sncf.com.
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Old Dec 29th, 2017, 03:05 PM
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Amboise is a favorite base of many as Chenonceau and Chambord and several chateaus are nearby andn Amboise has its own great chateau - nice smaller town though rather touristy in July and August. Not far from St-Pierre-des-Corps train station.
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Old Dec 30th, 2017, 12:40 AM
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Do Amsterdam - Paris first and return there from your excursions to fly out again. Going to Lille from Amsterdam involves changing trains, and even then, you're not nearly in Normandy yet. While Amsterdam - Paris is an easy connection. Book well in advance though for the best rates, as PalenQ pointed out.

I don't think I'd drive from Normandy to the Loire region, but that's a personal preference.

Also, are you sure you allocated your days? If I add everything up, with your travel, your schedule is going to be tight. Maybe just skip Amsterdam, and Fly into and out of Paris.
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Old Dec 30th, 2017, 07:59 AM
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I don't think I'd drive from Normandy to the Loire region, but that's a personal preference.>

why not? If bent on doing both and have car what other solution is there? An easy day's drive with stops via Angers, Saumur...
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Old Dec 30th, 2017, 10:46 AM
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Exactly, that's why I said it's a personal thing. I do an annual road trip to the South of France. French motorways aren't my idea of fun.
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Old Dec 30th, 2017, 10:58 AM
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<< French motorways aren't my idea of fun.>>

Boy, isn't that the truth!
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Old Dec 30th, 2017, 12:31 PM
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I hated autoroutes when I used to drive them several years ago - boring but the alternative N roads were full of trucks and traffic and to take real backs roads much longer (but so so much nicer - keep daily mileage distances low and enjoy one of Europe's most beautiful countrysides - peage (toll) roads also cost quite a bit IME.
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Old Dec 30th, 2017, 01:35 PM
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Get a Michelin 1:200000 scale motoring atlas -sold lots of places like gas stations, news stands, supermarkets, etc and look for D (departemental or local roads) that are in white (not colored) as these are usually well-paved back roads with little traffic except around large cities.

Roads with green tints are scenic roads.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 06:22 PM
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Thanks for all the tips. After also talking to my MIL, who has traveled many times to Europe/France, I think we are reconsidering the Normandy leg especially from Amsterdam to Lille to Bayeux as it could potentially take up to 12 hours (oy!) - either by car or even train. Now looking at possibly just sticking with Amsterdam to Paris and then maybe going to the Loire - I spent a summer there as a teen so I'd like to take my family there but might not be worth the hassle! Normandy may have to be a another trip, another year.
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Old Jan 7th, 2018, 09:46 AM
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Go to autoeurope.com or kemwel.com and check out rentals. Generally there is no one-way fee when renting in France, but that is not always true. My experience is that Europcar (one agency used by these two borkers) does not charge a one-way fee but that others such as Hertz sometimes do. Driving from Lille to Normandy makes a lot of sense, as well as continuing to the Loire valley. Give yourself the time to take non-toll roads.

Here's my trip report that covers a good deal of what you plan: https://www.fodors.com/community/eur...d-brittany.cfm

It's a little old but might give you some ideas.

These two photo albums cover that area:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...7684773328640/
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Old Jan 7th, 2018, 02:16 PM
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Paris to Loire is only an hour to St-Pierre-des-Corps (Tours) and pick up car at station and explore for day or more. Book tickets at www.voyages-sncf.com.
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