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Normandy or Belgium? with questions on Belgium itinerary

Normandy or Belgium? with questions on Belgium itinerary

Old Sep 29th, 2003, 01:11 PM
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Normandy or Belgium? with questions on Belgium itinerary

In the process of planning our trips for the rest of the year. Belgium (Bastogne, Durbuy, Liege (?maybe?), Mechelen (?maybe?), Ghent, and Bruges) and the Normandy beaches are up on the top of our places yet to visit. My time options are 4 full days mid October and a week in late December. I must choose which place we will visit at what time. My logic is telling me Normandy in October when it's not so cold and Belgium in December. Does this sound about right? Can Normandy be "done" in 4 days (including the drive from and back to Frankfurt)? Would a week be enought to visit the places I listed in Belgium? Have I left out a place that would be a better substitute for one I mentioned? We don't spend a lot of time in museums (we have a small child) - we like to see as much as we can but really just need enough of an overview to see if we want to return. Our time in Europe is coming to a close so we are trying to "shove" a lot into the last few months. Sorry this is so jumbled and barely coherent and thank you for taking the time to read it - any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Old Sep 29th, 2003, 05:26 PM
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Please keep in mind that the trip to/from Normandy from Frankfurt will take a good part of a day each way, leaving you two full days to visit Normandy. It can be done if you don't do any museums or cemeteries. The American cemetery was a very touching experience.

Belgium is doable in 7 days. Are you going to base yourself in one place and take day trips? If not, I can see a lot of driving and packing & unpacking of suitcases.

You've picked some nice cities. They have some great beers in Belgium. Enjoy!!
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Old Sep 29th, 2003, 10:48 PM
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We did Normandy last month with our 4 year old son, and we live about an hour south of Frankfurt. Be aware that it will take you about eight hours to drive if you take reasonable rest stops. We had the same timeline as you and found that it was okay, but fairly rushed. We were all exhausted when we got home. We arrived on a Friday evening, went to Le Mont St. Michel and area on Sat and then did the beaches/Caan Peace Museum on Sunday. We needed to buy two tanks of gas there and that, combined with the road tolls, was just over 250 euros.

Our son is normally very good in museums, but wasn't the least interested in the Peace Museum in Caan and the kids area there is nice but tiny and he wouldn't stay (he'll normally stay anywhere there are toys).
The main American Cemetery was very impressive, and we also enjoyed a stop at Pointe du Hoc.

I'm not sure what I expected, but was a little disappointed in the whole trip. I think if we'd had more time to explore it would have been different. I also wasn't prepared for how far apart everything was. We used a tank of gas just wandering down to Le Mont St. Michel and around the beaches. That said though, the highlight of the trip for me was Le Mont St. Michel and it was well worth the time getting there.

It sounds like you're over here with the military. If that's the case and you'd like to borrow our maps of the area, email me at [email protected] and I'll send them up to you
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 12:16 AM
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Be sure to visit Brussels, Grand Place, have lunch at St.Géry (young and fashion) or dine Armes de BXL (you need reservations) try the waterzooi and croquettes crevettes...Antwerp is a great city to visit and Brugges of course, near Brugges Knokke le Zoute is nice to visit on Sunday at the seafront it is known to be the St.Tropez of Be.Take a drive from Brugges to Knokke via Damme canal (the land of Permeke and J.Brel) have lunch or diner at Siphon...Enjoy
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Old Sep 30th, 2003, 11:55 PM
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Thank you for your responses. Anyone else have any suggestions?
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Old Oct 1st, 2003, 05:36 AM
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I have recently spent 8 nights in Belgium. Of the places you mention I particularly liked Ghent - which, among other things, has a castle, the Gravensteen, which your son would love.
Personally I was disappointed with Durbuy thogh the walk to it along the river frrom Barvaux is impressive. I far preferred Bouillon - accessible by bus from Libramont on the Brussels-Luxembourg line which has a dream castle for children [of all ages!]
E-mail me if you want URLs for stuff I have written on my trip.
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Old Oct 1st, 2003, 07:51 AM
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You can see the sights of the Normandy invasion in 2 days if you plan ahead. I would stay in Bayeux. Day 1--Arromanche (museum); Omaha Beach (American cemetary); Pont du Hoc; Utah Beach (museum); amd Ste-Mere-Eglise (museum). Day 2--Bayeux Tapestry Museum; Bayeux D-Day Museum; Caen Peace Museum; Pegasus Bridge at Benouville (museum); drive along the coast west back to Bayeux, seeing the British and Canadian invasion beaches along the way.

You can see the Battle of the
Bulge sites in a couple of days. The best museum is in Diekirch, Luxembourg (about 25 miles north of Luxembourg City. Gen. George Patton is buried in the American cemetary on the outskirts of Luxembourg City, out toward the airport. Bastogne has a pretty good museum. Malmedy and St. Vith are Bulge sites but don't have any particular sites worth seeing.

Regards,

Jinx Hoover
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Old Oct 1st, 2003, 10:35 AM
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Jinx, I appreciate your itinerary suggestion for Normandy beaches, that is very helpful. We have seen Luxembourg sites already and fell in love with the countryside there.
I am wondering if anyone could recommend a place in Belgium to base myself at for a few days. We need someplace pretty and peaceful (we don't enjoy very large cities as much as we might if we were traveling as a couple instead of a threesome!)but accessible to train. I just checked the Belgium train website and was excited by how affordable the trains are and thought that could be a nice way to see a lot of the country. We want to drive to Belgium and have the car for Bastogne and the area thereabouts but train up to Bruges, Ghent, etc. Thank you.
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Old Oct 1st, 2003, 10:53 AM
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If you want a nice small place to base yourself for the Bulge sites, I would recommend La Roche-en-Ardenne. We stayed at Hotel Le Chalet which is nice, convenient and has a good restaurant. The town has a castle overlooking it which might be fun to climb on for little ones (our son was only 4 months when we visited). If you go the nearby La Chouffe brewery is good.

As for the other places, I am afraid Durbuy will not be much fun if the weather is bad (which it will be in December). I am surprised Leuven and Antwerp are not on your list. Leuven is a beautiful old university city. Antwerp is much bigger, but has a great museum and the Rubenshuis.

If you are going to Bruges, you might make a side trip to Ypres to see the WWI battlefields. There is an excellent museum called In Flanders Field (if you want a break from WWII).

Sorry your stay in Europe is coming to an end. We'll be here a while yet.
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