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Help with Itinerary: Paris, Brittany, Normandy, Brussels, & Amsterdam

Help with Itinerary: Paris, Brittany, Normandy, Brussels, & Amsterdam

Old Jun 25th, 2008, 08:58 PM
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Help with Itinerary: Paris, Brittany, Normandy, Brussels, & Amsterdam

I need some quick advice on how many days to plan in each location for my next trip. (I plan to use Marriott Rewards hotel points for the major cities and need to book them fairly quickly.) So, here's what we are thinking:

Days 1-4: Paris and environs (one or two day trips, Versailles)
Days 5-7: Driving to WWII sites in Brittany and Normandy(is this enough time if we stop to see Mont St Michel?)Can we see Giverny on the way back to Paris to return the car?
Days 8-11: Brussels and environs (day trips - I'm wondering if this is too long and should shift a day or two to Brittany/Normandy)
Days 12-14: Amsterdam

I plan to research all the trip reports you've all posted here, but just wanted to get a general idea if our travel days were allocated appropriately. Thanks - looking forward to your suggestions!
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Old Jun 25th, 2008, 09:32 PM
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Just some thoughts/questions
1) if you haven't been to Paris before, as many will suggest, don't bother with days trips--I would just concentrate on Paris.

2) 3 days in Brittany/Normandy...you won't get very far into Brittany if you stop to see Normandy...probably just as far as MSM or St. Malo...which is not really experiencing Brittany IMO. I would consider just being content to enjoy Normandy and all that it has to offer and MSM, saving Brittany for another trip. To get deep into Brittany, you will have to take the auto-route, which kind of defeats the purpose. To experience true Brittany you need to get lost on the little byways in the western half of the region.

3) Are you taking the train to visit Brussels/Amsterdam? If you are, have you considered returning the car to a city along a train route, like Lille, so you don't have to backtrack to Paris? Driving into/out of the metropolitan area eats up a lot of precious time ( though as you point out, you could visit Giverny or other interesting things). Or are you flying?

I can't comment on Amsterdam, we are visiting it this summer and staying 3 nights...we'll see how I feel about this much time and I'll report back.
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Old Jun 26th, 2008, 12:03 AM
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I agree with the above. 4 days in Paris is just scratching the surface. You want to be able to relax and enjoy it.

Keep in mind you will lose half a day every time you move!

Also, I would drop Brittany this trip as well, you just dont have enough time. Focus on Normandy (btw Mont St Michel is in Normandy, on the border of Brittany).

As for Brussels, I think 1 day there would be enough...you may consider Bruges instead or dropping it altogether. I;ve never been, but none of my friends that have been have given it rave reviews and most would only give it about 6 hours if they had to do it again.
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Old Jun 26th, 2008, 03:39 AM
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You could certainly spend far more time in Paris than 4 days so I would consider adding more time there and/or dropping day trips. I assume Day #1 will be affected by jet lag.

As others have noted you should not expect to see Brittany plus Normandy in the time you are planning. Even adding another day would not help this much. I would concentrate on Normandy beaches and Mont St-Michel

IMO "Brussels and environs" is easily worth three days. I would recommend planning more than 6 hours in Brussels--and I have been there. Bruges and Ghent are wonderful day trips. But you could probably spend a day in Brussels and a day in one other city as a day trip if you want to allocate the third day to other parts of the trip.

As jamikins pointed out, you really do have to take into account the fact that you are moving around and that travel time plus settling into a new hotel will eat into your days.
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Old Jun 26th, 2008, 07:05 AM
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Thanks - this helps! We have been to Paris before, although it was nearly 28 years ago and we weren't nearly as prepared for the visit as we should have been (no guidebooks or money). We'd be driving from Paris to Normandy (will now drop Brittany as you suggest - this makes sense) and back to drop off the car. I think we will move one day from Brussels to Normandy.

From Paris, we plan to take the train up to Brussels and onward to Amsterdam. Your suggestion to not back-track is a good one - perhaps we fly home from Amsterdam at the end (we were thinking we'd need to return from Paris but maybe not). Does this make a bit more sense?
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Old Jun 26th, 2008, 07:26 AM
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Many folks swear by the open-jaws method-i.e. arrive Paris/depart Amsterdam. For a limited time trip this would make sense and would be worth it.

We usually have more time and tend to do a "circular" touring pattern departing/returning from CDG no matter where we are going-we've yet to run out of things to see and experience and interestingly enough even if you have to take the same route back, the view in the opposite direction is totally different and you see things you hadn't noticed before.
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Old Jun 26th, 2008, 07:39 AM
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Hello CleoB - Our group(4 families) just returned from France - In Normandy region, you need to spend 1-2 days - we had so much fun @ Gold Beach Evasion - you can rent authentic WWII jeeps and take a ride through the countryside and stop at important sights - the teenagers loved this - Evasion is in the City of Asnelles, about 2 minute ride from Arromanches - Katia, Jean Claude and Guy are workers at this fun place. Also, had a wonderful lunch at La Cale - excellent food, not to be missed! Arromanches 360 is a great movie to watch, original footage from DDay!
4 days in Paris was not enough, but we did a lot, purchase a Paris Pass is included Museum Pass to 40 places and transportation pass, which included RER train from Paris to Versailles (we spent 5 hours total here) - must sees: Louvre, Musee D'Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Tuileries Garden, Sacre Coeur, Saint Chapelle, Notre Dame and a cruise up/down the Seine. Skip the Paris Story and Cityrama Best of Paris tour (we fell asleep at both). Great restaurant: La butte Chaillot (110 bix, Ave Kleber) Guy Savoy, great menu & children's menu. Our favorite hotel was located in George V area, off Champs Elysees called Hotel Bassano. Hope you have a wonderful time!
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Old Jun 26th, 2008, 07:34 PM
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Thanks, Jaqkel. I'm going to print out your info for my file. And Klondike, we usually do circular itineraries as well, but this time it does seem like the open jaw makes better sense. Now on to booking the frequent flier segments and hotels - thanks all!
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