''european'' family trip in july

Old Apr 19th, 2024, 07:25 AM
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''european'' family trip in july

Hi !
We want to go back in family (2 adults and 2 teens) for a seventh time in july for 25-30 days.. This time we have that plan in mind.
1) Fly to Paris (cheapest flight from Montreal)
2) Take a rental car (no stay in paris which we have seen for one week last year).
3) Drive to northern France
4)Belgium (5-7 nights)
5) Netherlands (7-8 nights)
6) Alsace (5-7 nights)
7) Glimpse of Switzerland (4-5 nights)
8) go back to Paris and fly back to Montreal.

What do you think about that plan ?
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 07:52 AM
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A car is an encumbrance in towns and cities. both Belgium and the Netherlands can be visited easily via public transportation using two or three bases for the total of the 12 nights you would spend there, Take the train directly from CDG to Amsterdam and work your way south to get back to France.

https://www.thetrainline.com/train-t...hoC2aQQAvD_BwE

You could use Ghent as a base in Belgium and visit Bruges and Brussels.



Cross the border to Lille to pick up a car and start your touring from there to Alsace and Switzerland returning the car in Paris.



If it's the mountains that attract you to Switzerland, plan a road trip according to the passes that you want to cross rather than the towns that you want to see. You will need a vignette when driving in Switzerland.


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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 07:57 AM
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Or fly a multi-city itinerary, since time is also valuable....

non-stop Montreal to AMS
tour around for 3-4 weeks
non-stop Paris to Montreal.

Your time in each country sounds ok to me, but the devil will be in the details.
Personally, I'd do as suggested above and limit the # places I stay to as few as possible, and take day trips. Ghent is a good option for Belgium, Amsterday, or even somewhere nearby like Utrecht for the NL. There are easy, frequent trains that crisscross both of those countries from town / city center to center.

Last edited by J62; Apr 19th, 2024 at 08:03 AM.
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 08:08 AM
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I can't see a problem with you plan really, except I hope you will spend one night in or near Paris before setting off with the car. You should not drive after a long flight - you will be a danger to yourself and other road users.
Yes a car is a pain in cities, but it gives you the chance to see places that are not the regular tourist fodder, to see countryside, small towns, villages.
You could possibly fly to Amsterdam, spend a couple of nights then pick up the car, explore more of the country and maybe reverse the order of your trip.

You need to look for accommodation asap - peak holiday time in Europe, and Paris Olympics.
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 09:10 AM
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Particularly in the Netherlands, with the possible exception of the NE corner, trains provide an easy access to towns such as Alkmaar and Enkhuizen. Even with a family of four public transportation might be cheaper than a car when one takes into account the rental costs, the fuel, and the parking fees. The irony of this opinion is that for most of Europe I would say that cars are more efficient than public transportation and offer the option of visiting places that are not well serviced by public transportation. I learned that in 1971 when I did a trip much like the OP's. I dropped off the car in Amsterdam to be serviced, and let the shop deal with parking, and visited small towns by train. Picked up the car when I was ready to move on.



An additional plus with my plan is that the family can travel to Amsterdam on the same day without worrying about driving after an all-night plane flight.

Last edited by Michael; Apr 19th, 2024 at 09:13 AM.
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 09:52 AM
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We have don Germany without a car 6 years ago and it wasn't a great trip. We feel we have missed a lot. SInce then we always take a car and feel great about it. No schedule to follow, full freedom to ses what we whant when we want. We love big cities but also smaller quaint places.

In an ideal world we would have land in Amsterdam and depart from Lyon, but the one way fee for the car is very expensive.

Lodging in Amsteradm is something very painfull on the wallet....I wasn,t expecting that ! Cant find something under 300 euros per night.

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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by tostaky

Lodging in Amsteradm is something very painfull on the wallet....I wasn,t expecting that ! Cant find something under 300 euros per night.
I'm not surprised. You're traveling as a family of 4 in high season and plus need lodging that has parking (or nearby). I absolutely expect that this would be the rates you'd be seeing.
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 11:48 AM
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In my pre-Covid experience, Europcar booked through Autoeurope or Kemwel charges no extra fee for a different location when returning the car as long as it is is the same country as the pick-up.

Believe me, I drove in Belgium and the Netherlands, and it did not add substantially to my sightseeing. Here's the one exception:

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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 01:17 PM
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I'm beginning to see a possibility of using Ghent as our home base to explore the other major cities of Belgium: Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp. Is the train service between these cities frequent and economical? We're thinking about 10-12 days in Belgium in July, on our way to the Netherlands and parts north.

Also, is it worth taking a couple of days for Luxembourg? We're not pressed for time; we'll be in Schengen for 3 months, of which the last will be in Italy.
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 03:04 PM
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Train to Netherlands on arrival is the way to go. If you want to see Amsterdam, you could conceivably stay a couple of nights in Zaandam, Haarlem or a cheaper suburb of Amsterdam and commute in. Use a car only if there are quite out-of-the-way places you want to explore, and turn the car back in before leaving for Lille, where you can rent again, explore Belgium, Northern France, Alsace, and maybe Switzerland if you can get a vignette.

if you think Amsterdam has expensive hotels, wait till you try booking something in Switzerland.
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffhullinger3220
I'm beginning to see a possibility of using Ghent as our home base to explore the other major cities of Belgium: Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp. Is the train service between these cities frequent and economical? We're thinking about 10-12 days in Belgium in July, on our way to the Netherlands and parts north.

Also, is it worth taking a couple of days for Luxembourg? We're not pressed for time; we'll be in Schengen for 3 months, of which the last will be in Italy.
Yes, trains are a good way of travelling between the major cities in Belgium. I believe Belgium has the densest (and oldest) rail network in Europe. Trains are cheap and frequent and operate on a mass transit principle, i.e. seats are not reserved and your ticket is not tied to a particular train or time. This is not the case for international trains, in which case your ticket is tied to a seat and a time.

If you have three months, yes to Luxembourg. Some people don't find it so exciting but I quite like it as it's pretty; public transport is free throughout the Duchy and the whole city is bifurcated by a deep valley. Much of the old town is in the valley (all UNESCO World Heritage), but never fear as there are lifts to take you back to the top. There are also the Casemates, tunnels dug into the hills as fortifications against the enemy, which are very well-preserved and quite interesting. Just a warning that even though it's not far from Brussels, the train trip takes three hours (milk run), so I would definitely consider staying at least a night rather than day-tripping to Brussels. I have stayed in the countryside outside Luxembourg City before but never really explored it, so I can't comment, but I believe Echternach and Vianden are worth seeing.

Lavandula
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by tostaky
Hi !
We want to go back in family (2 adults and 2 teens) for a seventh time in july for 25-30 days.. This time we have that plan in mind.
1) Fly to Paris (cheapest flight from Montreal)
2) Take a rental car (no stay in paris which we have seen for one week last year).
3) Drive to northern France
4)Belgium (5-7 nights)
5) Netherlands (7-8 nights)
6) Alsace (5-7 nights)
7) Glimpse of Switzerland (4-5 nights)
8) go back to Paris and fly back to Montreal.

What do you think about that plan ?
I am with the people who suggest an open jaw trip (into Amsterdam, out of somewhere else). I doubt I would look at Paris right now as hotels will be booked up with tourism for the Olympics. I understand that a lot of hotel rooms and seats at the Games are corporate bookings, meaning that companies buy up bookings en bloc, and because they can afford to pay more, the prices are driven up, pushing ordinary people out. Many ordinary tour operators, small tour guides, etc are getting out of Paris for July as a consequence. So my advice would be to leave from Switzerland, if that is your end point. Or if you are scared off by the prices in Switzerland, just make it a Benelux trip and fly into Amsterdam, out of Brussels.

Lavandula
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffhullinger3220
I'm beginning to see a possibility of using Ghent as our home base to explore the other major cities of Belgium: Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp. Is the train service between these cities frequent and economical? We're thinking about 10-12 days in Belgium in July, on our way to the Netherlands and parts north.

Also, is it worth taking a couple of days for Luxembourg? We're not pressed for time; we'll be in Schengen for 3 months, of which the last will be in Italy.

Are you related to the OP?? If not, sorry - but you have posted your unrelated questions on to someone else's thread. I suggest you start a thread of your own.
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj
Are you related to the OP?? If not, sorry - but you have posted your unrelated questions on to someone else's thread. I suggest you start a thread of your own.
Have I violated forum rules? If so, I apologize. Where do I find the rules?
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Old Apr 19th, 2024, 06:03 PM
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Nothing to do with 'rules' - Just common sense. Your post has nothing to do with the OP (except some of the same countries). This causes two things -- first it is a bit of a hijack of the OP's topic. And second - your post is buried and others likely won't notice your (different) issues/questions. Despite lavandula having responded . . . your trip and your research belong on a thread of your own, not on tostaky's.
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