change of itinerary.........help

Old Apr 6th, 2021, 07:57 AM
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change of itinerary.........help

We are planning a 2022 trip to Europe - wife, myself, and daughters 18 and 15 when we travel. A new destination (Amsterdam) has been added to our list and I'm looking for help in deciding the order in which we visit each place. We'd llike to visit London (6), Amsterdam (3), Paris (8), Bayeux (3, D-Day beaches), the Loire Valley (4-5), and possibly a city in Brittany - Dinan (3) perhaps. Numbers in () indicate the number of days for each location. We're coming from Los Angeles area if that matters at all.

We plan to have about 4 weeks for the trip. We'll travel in june/July as my wife and I are teachers. We're on a budget, so looking for the most affordable way to travel as well as the most conveinent. I have been to Europe before and know that trains are probably the best way for us to get from place to place. I was thinking of having a car in France (not Paris) for our travel time there.

Any help you can give wouold be much appreciated. Thank you - Robert

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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 08:43 AM
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Welcome, Moore926. Sounds like a wonderful trip for you and your family. Others will confirm and/or correct but I just read Eurostar has a train from London to Amsterdam. If that's true, you could fly into London, train to Amsterdam, and train down to Paris.

I took a train from Paris to Versailles, Govern, Bayeux and did a one-day guided tour to 3 chateaux. You might consider adding days to Paris and make it a base.

Others can suggest how to arrange the other places. Perhaps stop between Amsterdam and Paris, rent a car and visit the war venues, Bayeux and Brittany? End up in Paris and fly out from there. In general, allow a day lost every time you change bases. No help with Dinan from me but others can help.

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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 08:49 AM
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Make that welcome rmoore926! I'm using a small screen and my post was moderated so please wait for it!
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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 10:43 AM
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Hopefully, our Nov trip goes as planned. We are flying into Paris for a couple of nights and then using our Eurostar credits to go to London for four evenings. We are taking it back to Brussels. Spending 3 nights there and 4 in Ypres. We like to base long enough to get an Airbnb or a staycity apartment. Accor is a brand of hotel that covers a lot of budgets. Anyway, back to Paris before flying home. Some will say you can't count travel days but I do as they are part of the adventure and we plan it so we don't get to the next city till check-in time. That gives us time for one more wander around but not rushed and no wasting time checking in. Then we have the evening and the late afternoon. We have rented a car from Caen for Normandy. MAYBE, you can get one in Bayeux but they had wacky hours. Easy driving there and then you can spend as long or short of a visit as you want at each place. I do recommend the German cemetery, La Cambe. You will see how very young they were by their graves. Going to Brittany from there might be good. I do want to see St Malo and take a ferry to Jersey. Stopping at Mont St Michel along the way. Have fun planning.
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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 11:04 AM
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If you don't already know the websites www.seat61.com (about rail travel everywhere) and www.rome2rio.com (about the various ways to get from point A to point B) check them out. You might find some options you might not have thought of.

For example:

https://www.seat61.com/trains-and-ro...y-eurostar.htm

and

https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Amsterd.../Fly-to-Rennes

Tentatively the suggestion above to do London, Amsterdam, Paris, then car to see Normandy and Brittany and back to Paris to fly out sounds good. But see also the above link describing direct flight from Amsterdam to Rennes. If the one way drop off fee for car rental is not too bad you might pick up car there, drop it in Paris and leave all of Paris to the very end.
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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 11:46 AM
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For France, probably the most economical way to travel for the four of you is by car. Start and end in Paris and go to Bayeux. Dinan (passing by the Mont St. Michel), to the Loire valley and coming back upto Paris either by looping back to Chartres, or by going via Fontainebleau or Vaux-le0Vicomte. Chartres may be better as you might have seen enough châteaux in the Loire valley.




Use AutoEurope or Kemwel as basis for rental costs. You can check out their contract without committing to a rental, and even if committed, you can cancel with no penalty up to 48 hours before the date of the rental. If you are willing to have the CDW covered by your credit card, consider the "basic" rate, but not if you are anxious about driving in Europe.
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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 03:07 PM
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I like Michael's suggestion for a route. We have had a similar experience to your plan. A few years ago we drove from Brussels via Bruges through Normandy down to Rennes. We drove via Dunkirk and Le Havre as we have been to Lille before and that is the other route across the border that we were considering. We had a base in Tancarville and from there saw Honfleur and Rouen, although I would gladly have stayed in Rouen, as we only did a day trip there and I think we could have seen more of it. Then via Fougères to Rennes and we went to Mont-Saint-Michel from there also. We did see quite a bit of Rennes. Then from there we drove to Versailles where we stayed a day and a night, and then to Paris where we met up with friends before leaving. If anything, lessons learned are that I would have liked to spend more time travelling by rail. Initially we had taked about dropping the car off in Rennes and going by train to Paris but the fees would have killed us, dropping at the airport what with cross-border fees was manageable. However I still hate driving on multi-lane highways at 130km/h. I don't like it in Germany and France is no better even though there are speed limits. We also found that our number of destinations was OK, and we had a mix of different styles of stops. I am not one for over-touristed destinations so I would probably not do Honfleur and MSM again, and Dunkirk and Le Havre are spectacularly unpicturesque but I'm glad to have seen them. Le Havre has this enormous cathedral which is made out of concrete and stained glass which was very thought-provoking, and I doubt I would go out of my way to go back but I still think about it. The whole trip, with 5 days in Mainz for my research at the beginning, took 3 weeks. So for me the stand-out city was Rouen. I would definitely go back.

So for your trip you might think of taking the Thalys from Amsterdam to Paris and from there taking a car to Brittany or Normandy and the Loire. It is a nice train, and if you splurge on first class, which is not that expensive, they will bring a (good) meal to your seat. I have taken it between Cologne and Brussels and the seats are like armchairs. You could also think of breaking your trip in Brussels to be able to see the Grand' Place but that brings issues of which sort of train and which sort of ticket so let's cross that bridge if the idea is appealing.

Good luck, your trip sounds like a nice one.

Lavandula
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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 06:41 PM
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Dinan is near Normandy- it makes sense to drive along the coast, see Mont St. Michel and the Normandy beaches, then head south to Paris and the Loire Valley. I think you're planning too much, but then I often went to Paris for a week at a time, and then the Loire and areas south at another time. A friend and I once landed in Paris, rented a car, drove north to Bayeus, Normandy, Deauville, then to Mont St. Michel and along to Brittany. Dinan is a wall city, with fabulous seafood, but you dont' really need to spend a lot of time there. The WWII museum in Normandy is HIGHLY recommended- your daughters may be bored, but they'll learn some things they won't learn in school! You do need a car to go north. Then return the car and take the train to places south of Paris. You definitely DON'T want a car in Paris! Take the Metro. Go to some of the smaller museums, like the Jacquemart-Andre (have lunch or tea while you're there), the Rodin, and, of course, the D-Orsay. Here's a strategy we used with kids int he L'ouvre - because it can be overwhelming- go to the gift shop first and have the girls pick out a few postcards of things they want to see. Then go on a scavenger hunt for them, and take pictures of them in front of the artworks (but you can't take pictures of the Mona Lisa, or at least you're not supposed to). The new Louis Vuitton has some wonderful exhibits, and the building itself is worth a visit. But don't miss going to the GRand Epicerie and some of the outdoor markets.
We stayed in B&Bs the whole way- much better than staying in hotels. They belong to the French organization Relais & Chateau. for Paris, look on VRBO to rent an apartment for less than the price of a single hotel room. We always get an apartment in Paris so we can shop at the markets and do some of our own cooking.

Last edited by ethrush; Apr 6th, 2021 at 06:49 PM.
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Old Apr 6th, 2021, 06:50 PM
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Everyone's taste and tolerance is different, but we did your sort of tour in 3 weeks, not 4, and saw the Dordogne, Provence and Burgundy in the process. Probably about equivalent to your driving from LA to Dallas and back. Yes, a lot of traveling, but it showed us what we'd like to see again, and what we could bypass in the future. Your trip smacks to be of seeing LA, Laguna Hills, San Diego, Huntington Beach to get a taste of America.

Your tour will have a somewhat "similar" taste/feel at all sites. We found southern France to have a dramatically different (and pleasurable) taste/feel than northern France.

Re your itinerary, I'd spend 2 days less in London, a day less in Amsterdam, 2 days less in Paris, 3 days less in Loire/Brittany, and instead take a train (5 years ago we got a 35 euro fare on the TGV Paris-Avignon....don't know if they still do crazy discounts like that) to Provence, rent a car and see Provence, west to Sarlat and return. We've done 3 week car rentals for $450 total, several times.
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 12:11 AM
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Great advice above
Dinan is a tiny walled city with some early medievel buildings inside and is well worth a visit. Do not confuse with Dinard which is a beach front town. Brittany has a bunch of other sites to visit including St Malo the odd castle, port and other medievel cities.
Visits from Paris are probably best using a train and there are lots of places to visit from there, but don't forget the city itself which is large, cosmopolitan and delightful. My favorite spot is a little odd and is the Institut du monde arabe, on top of which is a restaurant with great views and normally lower prices.
London is a big city... actually the biggest city in Europe by far and as such needs a lot of time plus there are all the wonders you can visit by coach or train. One way of cutting the cost in London is staying with these guys https://www.yha.org.uk/ which have places with family rooms right in the centre of town or across the country. Almost all the museums in London are free and theatre tickets are sold off cheap from a central store.
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 06:02 AM
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Thank you for all the thoughts and suggestions. It's a lot to think about. I will be back with questions as they arise.
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 07:13 AM
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Just re-read and see that autocorrect turned Giverny into governor on my post! I still like flying into London and out of Paris. Or vice versa actually. Seeing that Dinan could be incorporated into the driving portion of the trip.
OR fly into Amsterdam, take a train to Caen and rent a car there for the D-Day beaches area. Drop the car (not sure where to suggest outside Paris) and stay in Paris then train to London.
Please report back about this trip!

Last edited by TDudette; Apr 7th, 2021 at 07:18 AM.
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 09:19 AM
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I actually think your plan sounds pretty good. By contrast, I don't think you are doing too much, to me, it would be too little as I wouldn't want to spend 5 days in the Loire Valley, for example. You can, sure, but I think you have slow travel by my terms. I guess mainly that partk although 8 days in Paris is a lot. Sometimes I just get tired of big cities myself.

Anyway, I could see Tomboy's point, actually, as taking some days away from all that stuff to see Provence which is special. But that does add on more logistics and cost, probably. If you want to specialize more in the north half of the country, which makes sense, you could spend a couple days in Belgium, like Brussels and Bruges. I like Brussels, at least for a short time, although some people don't, I think. On the other hand, I never understand why people are so obsessed with old stone houses of rich people in the Loire Valley, which I don't find that interesting. I can see going to one or two for special reasons if they are unique or historically important (like the one in Amboise), but I wouldn't want to see that many myself. I just find the loire kind of a snooze, but you are obviously quite interested in it for your reasons.
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 09:57 AM
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Haven't read/absorbed all the replies - but just one quick comment before dashing out . . . to get 3 days in a place typically requires 4 nights, and it is best to think in terms of 'nights instead of 'days' to give you a better idea of how much time you actually have.

So to get the actual days you want - "London (6), Amsterdam (3), Paris (8), Bayeux (3, D-Day beaches), the Loire Valley (4-5), and possibly a city in Brittany - Dinan (3) perhaps." would really be
Overnight flight to London 1 night
London 7 nights
Amsterdam 4 nights
Paris 9 nights
Bayeux and the D-Day beaches 4 nights
The Loire Valley 5 to 6 nights,
Brittany - maybe Dinan 4 nights.
Plus travel back to Paris to fly home 1 night

This comes to 35 to 36 nights

sooooo . . . something has to give -- either cutting a destination or two, or adding a week, or cutting about 7 or 8 nights from various stays.






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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 10:50 AM
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Thanks for the continued responses. If I make it nights in each location instead of days that would help. Maybe take a day or two from the Loire. For the time in Paris we may take day trips to Versailles, Giverny, and/or Champagne region so the time there is a bit inflated. This is the only time we'll all travel to Europe together and we want to see as much as possible (that interests everyone) without being toooo rushed.

Thinking of a couple possible routes.....fly into London train to Amstredam, train to Tours (pick up car), drive to Loire, drive to Brittany/Dinan, drive to Bayeux, drop car and train to Paris, fly home from Paris. OR fly to London train to Bayeux via Paris (pick up car in Caen perhaps), drive to Dinan, drive to Loire, drop car, train to Paris, train to Amsterdam, fly home from Amsterdam. Your thoughts?

Thanks
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 11:59 AM
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I vote the first but others will to confirm or suggest alternatives!
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 01:31 PM
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I'd suggest flying to Amsterdam, then working back to Paris by train. Complete france, then train to London and fly home from there.
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 02:02 PM
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Christina captured the sense of my dismissal of the Loire, in different words.
For 5 or 6 days, you've REALLY got to like mansions.
For us, after the first two, they begin to look VERY similar.
And 1 or 2 of the famous ones have no furniture. At all. Yawwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnn.
Five years later, if you attempt to reminisce, you'll be "was that the one with the big pond?" "which one had the back porch?|" "remember the guy with the red jacket at, oh, what's the name of that place near....?"

I note, moore926, you have expressed no interests in the places on your initial itinerary. Art? History? Culture? Food? Wine? Scenery?
Reading between the lines, then, I sense that you were in Europe after college, barhopping perhaps in various cities, and now wish to show your teen kids "Europe" (which to you, post-college, meant cities). Not unlike other college kids.

But by doing so, by train, you miss a lot of the "rural" parts in the southern part of France (or Germany, as well), such as Provence, or the Vaucluse. IF you and family stayed at a B&B near Aix in Provence, for example, you'd really need an auto to visit the Calanques out of Cassis, the beaches east of Marseille, the wine regions nearby, the 20,000 year old cave drawings, the Roman ruins all over the place, etc. Why pinch pennies on a once in a lifetime experience for the family?
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 03:10 PM
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The day trip to Reims is very doable. Taittinger was not super pricey to tour. We booked the English tour in advance. The caves were amazing there. They used them as a hospital during WW1 and the carvings on the walls they did were beautiful. Both cathedrals are worth a look. You can train it there and back and walk around the town. If you decide on an airbnb apartment in Paris just look for the registration code that tells if it is legal. I think we are doing staycity apartments since it is for a shorter stay in Nov at the end of our trip. My husband loves the 2nd, I like trying different areas and have not disliked anywhere in Paris. We spent a week in the 14th once and loved it. I can base there and never run out of things to see or do.
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Old Apr 7th, 2021, 03:27 PM
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Actually you bring up a good point tomboy .... what does it cost nowadays (or what will it cost at the time of the trip) to rent a car? We have no travel abroad here in Oz but people who are hiring cars locally are reporting paying A$2000 for a hire that previously cost A$250 (letters page in Traveller in the Sydney Morning Herald). OK, so this is limited to our country which currently has no foreign tourism so the industry has to keep itself alive, but I am wondering what conditions will be in place when the OP has to hire his car? I am not against cars at all, we regularly hire cars, but what would be the deal-breaker? I would be a penny-pincher too if those conditions prevailed when I wanted to take my trip.

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