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Driving Itinerary Brussels-Paris-Zurich-Germany-Brussels

Driving Itinerary Brussels-Paris-Zurich-Germany-Brussels

Dec 10th, 2014, 08:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 12
Driving Itinerary Brussels-Paris-Zurich-Germany-Brussels

Hi all,

I am in the preliminary stage of planning a drive through the following route:
Needless to say I plan to take the rental car from Brussels airport and return it back there.
As of now I ve planned like thisbr /> Brussels- 02 days
Paris - 03 days
Drive towards Switzerland - stopover on way in any good town
Zurich/Switzerland - 03 days
Germany - suggestions for any good cities as my ultimate destination is Belgium.(03 Days)
Back to Brussels
Approximate duration - 14/15 days
Kindly Advice me regarding the above itinerary and suggest cities to be included.
I am a first time traveller to Europe but I have been driving a left hand drive car for a year n half and hold a valid international driver's licence. I would be accompanied with my wife and a 1.5 year old son.
Your inputs would be greatly appreciated.
sumit90210 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2014, 08:58 AM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 5,956
Why don't you want to visit the gems of Belgium, Northern France and Western Germany, as you will land in Brussels and as you will have only 2 weeks?
May be you check something like that:
Brussels - Gent - Brugge - Paris/Versailles - Troyes - Epinal - Route des Cretes - Colmar - Riquewihr/Ribeauville - Hochkoenigsbourg - Strasbourg - Speyer - Heidelberg - Worms - Mainz - Ruedesheim - Rhine Valley - Koblenz - Mosel Valley - Trier - Luxemburg - Saarschleife - Schengen - Luxemburg - Han sur Lesse Caves - Namur - Brussels
neckervd is offline  
Dec 10th, 2014, 09:00 AM
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 5,956
...Trier - Saarschleife - Schengen - Luxemburg - Han.....
neckervd is offline  
Dec 10th, 2014, 09:31 AM
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I would not do a RT to Brussels - but fly home from someplace in Germany (Munich? Frankfurt?).

When we rented a car in Brussels there was no drop off charge for leaving the car in Germany - I would look for that in a rental agency.

You are trying to cover a LOT of ground in a limited time - esp with a toddler along. And when you subtract the travel time from the places you want to see (you have not allowed for the travel time in your list) you have very little time - esp for Paris(which IMHO you need at least 4 days - 5 nights - for a first trip).

And if a you want to see are those cities I'm not at all sure that a car makes sense (since it is a nonsense in cities). We love road trips and have done a lot of them - but the car is NOT good for cities - only for touring the towns and villages between the cities - ad you don;t ave time for that unless you recast your trip as suggested above.

So - if that is your itinerary I would do train. If you wan to see villages and countryside then get the car - but you will need to restrict the area you visit - perhaps just Brussels and Paris - and the towns in between.

Suggest you make a list of each day, noting where you will stat, what you will see/do, what travel you will do and then where you will spend the night. Viamichein.com can give your routes and driving times - to which you have to ad tie for meals and pit stops - as well as time for your little one to run around somewhere.

Think you have not accounted for the play and nap time needed for your little one. I would not expect your son to sit happily in a car for 4 or 5 hours at a time - just not realistic for kids this little. Train is easier since they can wander around (watched of course)>
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 10th, 2014, 10:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 76,457
Why Zurich a city that leaves many unexcited - spic-and-span modern town - head instead for the Interlaken/Jungfrau Region around Interlaken - drive to say Grindelwald and have a hotel eyeball to eyeball with the glacier-girdled soaring Alps - the epitome of the Alpine Wonderland etched in many folks minds when thinking of Switzerland but which would not be fulfilled in just another modern and to some at least boring city.


Yes this is the Switzerland of many folks dreams - not Zurich or cities nice as they may be.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 10th, 2014, 10:27 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,312
For your itinerary, I would take the train until Germany, when you could rent a car for visiting small towns and countryside. A car in cities like Paris is just a problem.

This seems a rather unusual itinerary for a first trip to Europe. What cities and places do you wish to see in Germany? Why are you choosing Germany if you have no particular interests there? Why Brussels if you are not going to Bruges, Ghent, etc.?

Germany is a long country, so that is quite a long drive from Switzerland back to Belgium. It would make more sense to do multi city booking, fly into one city and out of another, so you are not backtracking, thus saving money and time. See what you want to see around Brussels, head to Paris, Switzerland, and fly home from Germany.

When are you going?

With a toddler, consider only three places, renting an apartment for at least four nights each (three days).
Sassafrass is online now  
Dec 10th, 2014, 12:45 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,586
A RT is not backtracking, but I think that in this instance it represents too much driving for the 2 weeks listed. Brussels, other towns in Belgium, with Luxembourg and some of western Germany might be a better choice than the itinerary originally given. If sticking to that itinerary, Zurich would not be my destination--I would choose to visit the Swiss Alps which are fun for someone who likes driving.
Michael is offline  
Dec 10th, 2014, 06:57 PM
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Posts: 12
Thanks a ton for your inputs.
How about taking the car only for a particular stretch of journey and covering the rest connections via train?
In such a case which particular stretch should I do that?
I think for starters 2 days in Brussels and then Brussels to Paris via train.
In case Bruges and Ghent have to be included, how many days are required?
4/5 Days in Paris. I plan to stay at a budget hotel on the outskirts and travel to the city/main attractions via tube. This way i wont waste my time being stuck in traffic.
open to suggestions...for routing and car/train from Paris to Switzerland.
This way I might drive around French country side and Alps and keep around 5 days for further swiss sojourn.
Zurich obviously is not a final choice.
I think that would be enough considering the time and may be I ll fly back from Switzerland.
I am planning to go in first half of May. So is the weather good to go?
sumit90210 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2014, 08:53 PM
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So, your flights are not set in stone into and out of Brussels? In that case, skip Brussels. Fly into Paris.

Nothing says Bruges or Ghent have to be included. It is just that, unless they have some specific reason, few people go to Belgium only for Brussels. Sometimes they go to Brussels because they are already in Belgium.

If you must still fly into Brussels, use trains until you are leaving Paris.

Do not stay outside of Paris and travel in. You would be wasting money on car rental you are not using and using up time getting back and forth into the city. Use the money you would have spent on car rental and add it to your hotel money. Pick up the car only for exploring country areas and small towns outside of cities.

Paris should be beautiful in May, as will most everywhere. There are many lovely parks in Paris where your little one can play.
Sassafrass is online now  
Dec 10th, 2014, 09:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi sumit90210,

It's not really the best idea to drive around the Swiss Alps -- first of all, you can't get to the peaks or the best villages by car, only by rail or cable car. You would most likely leave your rental car in a (paid) parking lot while you took the trains and cable cars to the villages and mountaintops. The passes over the mountains will likely be closed due to snow in mid-May; they tend to open only in late June or July.

If you rent a car in France and drop it off in Switzerland, you would incur high drop-off fees, so you should consider dropping off the car at the French side of Geneva or in Mulhouse near Basel.

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 11th, 2014, 07:05 PM
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Than a lot...!!
Driving through Swiss Alps would have been fun..but not I have to seriously rethink as it would be snowcapped in May..!!
sumit90210 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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Brussels is a fascinating large city - most folks find it a let down from any romantic notion of old-world Europe they have in their minds - Bruges is exactly the opposite - to me one of the nicest old-world cities north of the Alps - if I had to chose between Brussels and Bruges hands down Bruges. I took hundreds of folks thru Bruges on tours and everyone fell in love with it - some came back on their own after the trip.

Bruges is exceptional even though in season during the day it can be too crowded but is always nice after dark when the tour bus groups have gone and the many humpbacked wooden draw bridges and ancient Flemish facades along the old quais are sublimely illuminsted.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 13th, 2014, 06:43 AM
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In May you can obviously already drive through the Swiss Alps. In fact, you can do that all winter long.
Coming from Paris, you'd probably want to hit Switzerland at Lake Geneva and go West-East from there. The mountain pass roads (of which the highest) may or may not be open in May (this depends more on the actual weather) typically go North-South. The closures are very well signposted in advance, so you never get stuck in a dead end pass road accidentely.
So your route would/should follow the river valleys - and whenever you need to cross a ridge with a closed pass road, the Swiss were so thoughtful to drill tunnels.

In Paris, I have stayed at hotels on the Peripherique and "commuted" into the city center. It does not take much time.
In fact, if your hotel was in the 1st arr. and you had to change metros just once, you'd probably need longer than on a straight line to the Peripherique. It also does not cost more.
But, I must admit, it does not feel very "tourist Parisian" to stay at any of the "Portes de.." on the Peripherique where the cheaper hotel/motel chains are located. So this is a trade-off you have to keep in mind - and also that those hotels usually do charge something for parking. Not as much as "downtown", but you should still read the fineprint.
The choice of cheap, car-friendly hotels gets even bigger the further you move away from the Peripherique into the Ile-de-France conurbation. But there you often have only (more costly) RER connections to the city - and not always near your hotel which may be adjacent to the motorways and further away from the next station.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2014, 10:54 AM
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Posts: 21,300
For more specific details, just use www.viamichelin.com to plot your itinerary. You can get routes with or without tolls and add as many stopovers as you want.

I often add stopovers to which I do not even plan to go if I find that the Michelin result is trying to make me excessively "reasonable" about the roads I want to take -- particularly if it tries to get me to backtrack rather than discovering new roads.
kerouac is offline  
Dec 13th, 2014, 11:26 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,380
I think for starters 2 days in Brussels and then Brussels to Paris via train.
In case Bruges and Ghent have to be included, how many days are required?
4/5 Days in Paris.>>

4-5 days in Paris yes, but your 2 day [or does that mean night?] stops give you very little time in the places you are staying, which means that the effort to get there is disproportionate. With a small child in tow you may want to think about having 2 or three bases rather than trying to do a touring holiday.
annhig is offline  

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