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Driving Bruges to Paris. Is it worth the drive?

Driving Bruges to Paris. Is it worth the drive?

Old May 22nd, 2017, 08:39 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
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I like keraouc's suggestion the best. Pickup a car in Bruges, go sightseeing, drive in to Paris. It sounds like a great way to wander. Driving in and out of Paris is not hard.

So what there is a drop off fee.
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Old May 22nd, 2017, 08:42 PM
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Old May 22nd, 2017, 10:18 PM
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Assuming there ARE ferocious one-way surcharges (and the poster needs to check this), Kerouac's suggestion about trains and Lille is well worth following.

One important reservation though: the straight drive from Bruges (worth repeating: the way the City of Bruges and the Kingdom of Belgium require their employees to spell the city in English) to Paris is just 200 miles and usually takes about 3 hours.

But it's a dull, often intensely congested, road through dull countryside. There's some wonderful countryside not too far away. There's a string of regional parks for about 100 miles along the French border with Belgium between the main A1 motorway and Sedan, and in a belt from Compiegne, through Chantilly to Giverny as you approach Paris.

Otherwise, it's almost impossible to find interesting scenery, however much you venture off the main road.

The slightly circuitous alternative through Bethune, Arras, Amiens and Beauvais, then around the Chantilly-Compienge-Giverny belt has tons of interesting things to see, lots of places serving the (widely underestimated) food of Northern France, and some of the greatest artworks of the Flemish Renaissance

But the vast majority of the townscapes you go through are hideous. At best, as in the reconstructed former Flemish towns of Northern France (like Arras and Bethune), pastiches of the charming towns almost totally destroyed in 1914-18.

I've spent years meandering around this area, and holidaying in it for weeks on end. Apart from a few carefully manicured small towns in the poshest bits of the Paris commuter belt, I struggle to think of anything in the area I'd call "charming."

The area's stuffed with great things because, straddling a major strategic route, it's been heavily exposed to the last thousand years' wars.

The scars show.
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Old May 22nd, 2017, 10:47 PM
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With only 2 days to spend in Bruges, I'm not sure you will be able to get out and see very much at all - either driving or taking the train.
It takes time to get from one battlefield or museum, etc so you might think about what it is that really is important to you, then make plans.
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Old May 22nd, 2017, 11:03 PM
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Look kerouac: Brugge is so like Bruges that I keep it. The Hague and 's Gravenhage or Den Haag are dissimilar enough for me to keep the English name. Hope you approve, but don't care either.
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Old May 22nd, 2017, 11:06 PM
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Consider that traffic in Belgium can be pretty bad, particularly around Antwerpen. If you do this, then take the toll tunnel north of Antwerpen to bypass the ringroad.
Don't even think about driving to Gent!

Agree with Flanneruk - not really a charming drive, from Brugge to Paris. And the train is very comfortable.

I'm someone who drives everywhere, I love driving, but for this stretch I would take the Thalys.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 12:32 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
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I'm another car driver who prefers driving to taking the train when possible but really for this route the train is best Parking is a pig, driving is stressful for both of you.
Take the train and spend longer in the cities you want to visit, with maybe a day trip out somewhere.

Drop off fees do not always show up in an online booking, but that doesn't mean they aren't going to be charged.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 02:40 AM
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Nobody is obliged to take the uncharming A1 autoroute in France. The smaller roads are lovely if you have the time.

If you do choose the Thalys, don't expect to see anything charming out of the windows either, because it was built right alongside the autoroute.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 03:08 AM
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Thank you to all. This helps immensely. I'm going to take the advise of most of you and take the train to Paris. Honestly, Paris wasn't my first choice of final destination. (Nothing against Paris) With only having 9 true days of travel and flight costs it seemed to be the only sensible choose.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 05:43 AM
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I have picked up a rental car in Amsterdam and returned it in Paris and while there was a drop off charge I don't recall that it was exorbitant. Check the rates on Auto Europe whom I have used for European rentals for many years.

There's no point in driving into Paris if you are departing the next day from CDG. On several occasions I have stayed in Senlis which is only about 20 to 30 minutes from the airport but otherwise worlds away. It's a lovely town in which to spend your last night.

I like the suggestions of visiting Ypres on the way--there is much of historical interest here and in the surrounding area. The Flanders Fields museum in the restored Cloth Hall is outstanding and if you can stay the night the nightly Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate is not to be missed. En route to Paris I would stop at Amiens to see the magnificent cathedral.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 07:12 AM
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Now that the OP has said that her full trip is only for 9 days, I would say that all side trip options are now out of the question.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 07:27 AM
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Living in Belgium since... ever, I'd say this
- highways in the region are a bore (as in most regions actually)
- I've never been visiting the battlefields around Ieper (yet I'm a history buff but dislike WW1 for whatever reasons)
- I like the small towns of the region like Ieper itself, Audenaerde (Flemish spelling is Oudenaarde but I prefer the french one, which is the old flemish actually, if you follow...)
- I find the region flat... so i tend to stay in cities or towns.

With a car I'd go along the coast (cap gris nez and cap blanc nez are fabulous) Amiens probably (hortillonages) and then on to Paris. On the flemish coast I'd say Veurne is nice, and De Haan. The rest is mostly concrete, the french coast is more beautiful.

As for spelling I use the Flemish spelling for flemish cities, I find it the strict minimal politeness and don't care one bit about the English spelling. I also hate Luttich, Luik, and worse of all : Rijsel (for Lille) !

If Italians are ok with Florence that is their problem, I perso use most of the time Firenze, but quite often Florence (as in French) when at home, as well as Londres, but hardly ever in writing.

I don't use Mockba but I don't say Moscow either, I use Moscou. My rule : either local or my mothertongue spelling.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 01:00 PM
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What do you call Brussels? You have to take sides?
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 01:43 PM
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We'd planned to drive from Amsterdam to Paris a couple of years ago but changed plans when we learned that the drop fee would be around US$500.00. Instead, we drove to Bruges (via a number of other stops) and then to Rotterdam, dropped the car, and took the train to Paris and then back to Brussels for our flight.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 02:07 PM
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howfo I call Bruxelles ? 90% frenchspeaking.
One time out of 10 Brussel.

In English : Brussels but u don't use it

In American : hellhole.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 06:08 PM
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WoinParis should that be vile hellhole?
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 07:41 PM
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Urges is good for a day, maybe 2...but agree I would take a train to Paris. i have driven in France before and you need to know the roads as well as crazy drivers.
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Old May 23rd, 2017, 08:06 PM
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Arras has a nice double square and Ameins a well-known cathedral. But the countryside is not exceptional.

The first eight pictures of this set:
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Old May 24th, 2017, 02:14 PM
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Thank you again. I love the idea of the coast. You have all given much to think about. Love Fodors.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 03:12 PM
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Driving is plenty easy in France and most anywhere in Europe. Getting out into the countryside is one of the glories of Europe.

I can recommend the Chemin des Dames in France. It is a historic road and because it is on a ridge, was part of the Western Front during WWI. Coucy-le-Chateau is in ruins, and makes a great visit. There is also the Caverne du Dragon, a cave that was used by both the Germans and French as part of trench warfare. There's also a destroyed village or two along the way, not much more than a sign and some mounds overgrown by vegetation, but fascinating nonetheless.

Taking the train is certainly an option, but for those interested in exploring outside of cities, relying only on train travel is seriously limiting.
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