Finalized plans Brussels - Paris?

Mar 1st, 2008, 07:57 AM
  #1  
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Finalized plans Brussels - Paris?

Well, after going round and round and searching all different options - I believe we have landed with going to Brussels and then Paris.
I want to thank everyone esp. Janis for all the information on London and flats ect. I simply could not find a price/place that suited our budget AND taste and taking into consideration my lousy timing with the 24/25/26 in London we have opted to wait till another trip in the future to see the great city.

Because I cannot change my outbound flight to Europe from LAX without it costing more then the Eurostar will our trip currently looks like this - note some questions along the way. :

December 22 - flight from LAX to London via AirFrance

December 23 - arrive at LHR at 3:00 pm
Train to St. Pancreas <sp> from LHR (is this possible?)
St. Pancreas <sp> to Brussels via EuroStar

staying in Brussels for the evening of the 23/24/25 currently booked at the Marriott but open to suggestions! remember we have 6 persons traveling with us

In Brussels I would like to see the Christmas market on the 24th

Not sure there is anything to do on the 25 so I am a tad concerned but we will make do I suppose

26 Leave for Paris via train

Check into our apartment that was recommended here.

December 26 - Jan. 2 Paris!

I have yet to plan much in Paris but have sent an email to Micheal whom we were to tour with last year but missed due to flight delays.

We never even got to the Lourve last year so that is on the list.

Would like to consider lunch at Eiffel Tower @ Altitude 95.

Would love love love to hear whatever else is a must/love to do - I am very excited to have 7 nights in Paris.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 01:34 PM
  #2  
ira
 
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Hi D,

Is the Xmas market in Brussels so important that you are willing to wear yourself out getting there?.

You could spend Xmas in London. I've been told that it is rather nice that time of year.

ira is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 02:36 PM
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The Christmas market in Brussels is not that impressive; I haven't liked it since they took it away from the Grand'Place and decided to spread it around the Lower Town area.

That said, the Sablon area is very prettily deocrated at Christmas and there are lots of nice shops on the Sablon and on the streets around it...I think you'd get a more festive feel there than at the Christmas market itself.

However, have you thought of staying in Bruges instead? Easily reached from Brussels Midi (Eurostar station) and should be free if you have Eurostar ABS tickets.

You can find hotels to fit every budget and taste in Bruges plus there are furnished flats as well. Bruges is beautiful at Christmas and its market is more picturesque (although the markets in Germany are much, much better). There's even a Wolfhart (sp) store in Bruges for Christmas shopping. (You might want to pick a hotel that has a restaurant that will be open on Christmas day.)
BTilke is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 02:40 PM
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Hi Ira,

London is dead from what I understand (completely) from mid-day on the 24/25 and a little open on boxing day (26)I would definately prefer to stay in London and just train to Paris as orginal we had planned.

I have read mixed reviews about Brussels here and online.

I had orginally thought Bruges - but the family seemed uninterested.

I would prefer Germany and am open if I can find a way to get there that makes sense.

I know...this is a bit of a drag but I am trying to look on the bright side.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 02:41 PM
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If you haven't bought your Eurostar tickets, then you might also want to consider flying from LHR to Frankfurt and catching a train to Baden-Baden; it's just beautiful at Christmas and a perfect place to relax. Very nice Christmas market, small(ish) but good quality. From there, it's a short train ride to Strasbourg and from Strasbourg, you can catch the TGV to Paris.
BTilke is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 02:43 PM
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Another Fodorite did a Christmas trip to Baden-Baden and loved it; I'll top the trip report for you.

It would be very easy to connect to Frankfurt from LHR. It's about one hour to BB by train from Frankfurt airport.
BTilke is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 02:48 PM
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BikeT - I will check it out. Dh was more interested in Germany - I am just concerned how travel weary my family will be.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 02:53 PM
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BikeT or anyone else -

How far of a train ride is it from Frankfurt to Baden-Baden and how far from the airport is the train station?

How much time does one recommend between flights? I am assuming 3 hours? That would give us one hour to clear customs and then another 2 to get checked in?

We arrive in London around 3:00 pm on the 23rd.

dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:00 PM
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The only problem with Christmas markets in Germany is that they close for the season on December 24, usually in the early afternoon.

The Christmas Days of Dec 24-26 are more "private" in Germany, than having public Christmas celebrations or similar. Stores will close Dec 24 mid-day, and won't open until Dec 27. Museums are also often closed Dec 24/25.

So you may not experience much of that "spirit" even if you added a flight to Germany to your long flight(s) from the US on Dec 23.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:04 PM
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It's a fairly short flight and your family would benefit by not having to leave LHR to get into St. Pancras (which will be a madhouse around the holidays).

PLUS, you would all benefit from a nice long soak in the baths in Baden-Baden. A couple of hours in the baths, a massage, a stroll around the beautiful town.

We usually stay in the 5-star Dorint-Sofitel because it has its own spa, so nice to just throw a bathrobe over your bathing suit and catch the ornate wrought iron special spa elevator down to the pool. The Dorint/Sofitel often runs excellent specials (we never pay anything close to their rack rates) but it's a popular choice for Christmas, so their rates won't be be that low for your dates.

One moderately priced hotel that you might enjoy is the Hotel Beeg. It has a family apartment that costs 165 euro per night/doubles run about 100 euros. It's got a terrific cafe/pastry shop that also serves light meals. It's located literally a 2 minute walk from the big Caracalla spa and along a pedestrian street. We love their cafe, make a point of going there on every BB visit.

http://www.hotel-beeg.de/eng/rooms/index.html
BTilke is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:07 PM
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I saw Cowboy's comments, but just in case you want to go to Germany:

Frankfurt Airport to Baden Baden takes about 1.5 hours. You can research schedules online on Deutsche Bahn's website. Enter Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbahnhof (i.e. long-distance station) and Baden Baden Bahnhof. You may have to switch in Mannheim.

Baden Baden to Strasbourg takes over one hour. You've to switch trains as well -- at Appenweier (I think) sometimes. Again you can research the schedules on Deutsche Bahn.

Strasbourg to Paris TGV takes about 2.5 hours.
111op is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:08 PM
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Thank you BikeT -

I am checking out with Airfrance again to see about changing our outbound. I have to aware of all the extra costs it might be the easiest to change directly with them if possible. I had a field day with my tickets so I am worried about even trying to change them.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:09 PM
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111op - our posts crossed - thank you. That seems like an awful lot of travel in one day for my family. We are traveling from LAX so it is a long flight to begin with.
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:14 PM
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It's true that the markets will close, but some things in BB do stay open to cater to visitors (those places tend to close for the first two weeks in January, taking a respite from catering to holiday tourists). All the decorations and lights will be on, even if the stores are closed.

From Frankfurt, you catch the train from the airport train station. The ride is about 1 hour, no changes. From the BB train station (actually in Baden-Oos), it's about a 10 minute taxi or bus ride.

(Brussels will be mostly closed over your dates as well; Bruges will have a little more open. Your best option might be to just head to Paris early instead of stopping in Brussels/Bruges or connecting on to Germany.)

The BB tourist office site has a movie you can watch online as well as other info. Note, don't be beguiled by scenes of BB in the snow--a white Christmas in BB is rare. We were in BB every December from 2000 to 2006 and saw light snow only a couple of times.
http://www.baden-baden.de/en/index.html
BTilke is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:17 PM
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BikeT - I was going to head to Paris early but our apartment is not available now until the 26. She did offer us another apartment she owns in the 4th from the 23 - 26 and perhaps that is the best option or perhaps trying a hotel for those few nights then moving to the apartment.

dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:23 PM
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If you have to stay in a hotel, maybe a Citadines might be a good compromise.
They are over a dozen in Paris. They're not particularly cheap though.
BTilke is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:29 PM
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I will take a look BikeT - I am currently exploring Starwood properties - we have Amex points - as well as Marriott properties. Thanks for the feedback help. Perhaps I am not "finalized"as I thought...
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 03:31 PM
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You can fly BA from LHR to FRA. There is a flight that leaves 19:05 and gets into Frankfurt at 21:45 and the fare for all 6 of you would be ~ £300 ($600). Then if you get the train to Baden-Baden, add 1 1/2 hrs more, so you are talking about nearly 4++ more hours of travel from the time you land at Heathrow.By the time you arrive at your hotel in Germany, its going to be very late evening or nearly midnight of the 23rd, add some sleep and by the time you wake up and see the Christmas markets, they'll probably be packing up. Its your call.
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Mar 1st, 2008, 05:28 PM
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Joy doesn't sound like one bit of fun or make any sense does it?

I am banging my head on the keyboard by now...
dawnnoelm is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 05:31 PM
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Hotel Residence Henri IV - I did a search on this hotel and have seen postive feedback... they can accomdate us for the first 3 nights if we go directly to Paris. I think it might be nice to stay in a different area then the apartment - which is in the 1rst.
dawnnoelm is offline  

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