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Overnight suggestions for Belgium and Netherlands?

Overnight suggestions for Belgium and Netherlands?

Old Jul 10th, 2018, 01:08 AM
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Overnight suggestions for Belgium and Netherlands?

We will be driving from Hamburg to Toulouse in early August and are looking at an alternate route that helps us avoid some of the major cities along the way like Brussels and Paris, so we are considering a route that would take us over towards Leeuwarden, then south towards Liege or Spa for instance, then southwest towards Reims and Troyes and down to Toulouse. Given our schedule we will only need to drive around 4 hours a day or so.

We are looking for nice places to visit along the route and also some towns or small cities to target for an overnight stay with a car (we don't mind paying for private parking if need be). In the Netherlands I know that Leeuwarden is the cultural city of the year. Would it be a nice place for an overnight stay, or do you think we should just visit it and stay somewhere else like Harlingen or one of the smaller river towns like Zwolle, Ijssel, Deventer or Zutphenor that I read about on another thread here on the forums? Of course we are are also open to other ideas. From that same thread it sounds like Giethoorn is nice but way too crowded with tourists in August for a stop and not very car friendly.

In Belgium, would Spa be a nice stop? I only know the name from the water and normally would love to go somewhere to a "spa" but may not have enough time on this trip. So maybe Liege might be a better stop although a little be larger city to deal with. I don't know much about this part of Belgium so all ideas would be welcome!
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Old Jul 10th, 2018, 02:03 AM
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You could visit Leeuwarden and stay in Harlingen. They are only half an hour apart. Only problem would be how early in August - the Tall Ships Race ends in Harlingen, and the city (for it is a city though the size of a small town) is in lockdown for cars during the time the Tall Ships are here. They arrive on August 3rd and leave August 6th, and only residents with a permit can park or drive in the city centre during that time.
Otherwise I would recommend Zutphen.
There is an exhibition of Escher works in Leeuwarden at the moment. I can recommend it. You can buy tickets online here: https://www.friesmuseum.nl/en/see-an...chers-journey/ or take a chance on getting them on the day you visit. I'm going again on the 3rd.

Avoid Liege, it is big, and just not nice, plus there are continous roadworks going on which make it difficult to navigate.
Maybe Dinant, Rochefort or Bastogne would suit you in Belgium. It is a long dive from Friesland down there, so perhaps consider Maastricht instead of Liege if you want a shorter days driving. You could also visit the Margraten US war cemetary if you are insterested. I found it very moving, and I'm not American!
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Old Jul 10th, 2018, 02:11 AM
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All very good suggestions, OP!

But also consider: Groningen. Or, if you don't want to go too far sideways to the west as it were: Arnhem, and then Spa. Trier might also be a good bet, after which you'd probably route via Metz, Nancy, Dijon, Lyon to Toulouse. Driven that way many times. Doing Trier - Schengen to route around Luxemburg city is also a good option.
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Old Jul 10th, 2018, 06:00 AM
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Thanks to both of you for your suggestions-they are right on point! If we decide to go to Harlingen, we will be okay since we will actually be there before the tall ships event-although it is a shame because that sounds pretty special. But Groningen also looks nice and will keep us more on our path, but I will look at all the towns around there and see what kind of hotels look appealing. Thanks for the link to the Escher event-we may definitely want to do that, so I will check into tickets.

My recollection of Liege from the one time I stayed there many years was that it would be best to avoid it, so I will look at Dinant, Rochefort and Bastogne. I am tempted to go to Spa though for the hydrotherapy, so we will see.
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Old Jul 10th, 2018, 06:34 AM
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Groningen is also nice, but much igger, and they are currently working on the ring road which was always an awful road and is now a total nightmare.
If you decide on Harlingen and want to meet up let me know.
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Old Jul 10th, 2018, 03:57 PM
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Bourges would be a nice short few-hour stop from Troyes and then thru Massif Centrale to Toulouse - Le Puy de Dome being a highlight of Massif Centrale.
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Old Jul 11th, 2018, 12:18 AM
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PalenQ, we did that route on the way up and the visit to Puy de Dôme was a highlist!.

hetismij2, thanks so much for the offer to meet up-I will let you know if we do decide to go to Harlingen. Meanwhile, I will check out hotels along the route to see what we think at this point.
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Old Jul 19th, 2018, 12:52 PM
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Liège is nice and the trainstation has been named in third place as most beautiful trainstation in the world. I have friends there and the center is charming as are the main places.
I didn't encounter roadworks last I went there. Aachen, less than 30 min from Liège is a*lovely city too and smaller than Liège. On the way south, we liked Langres - small town, can be 'done' in an evening, some old walls, not touristy.
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Old Jul 19th, 2018, 01:20 PM
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Liège is nice and the trainstation has been named in third place as most beautiful train station in the world>

Wow Belgium also has Antwerp Central which I thought was the finest train station anywhere - had to look up and wow: not your stately old train station but a marvel -thanks for that tidbit.
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Old Jul 20th, 2018, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by thibaut View Post
Liège is nice and the trainstation has been named in third place as most beautiful trainstation in the world. I have friends there and the center is charming as are the main places.
I didn't encounter roadworks last I went there. Aachen, less than 30 min from Liège is a*lovely city too and smaller than Liège. On the way south, we liked Langres - small town, can be 'done' in an evening, some old walls, not touristy.
Chaumont, near Langres, is also rather nice.
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Old Jul 20th, 2018, 10:23 PM
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Thanks all for the nice suggestions-I a making a list of places to visit along the way thanks to all of you
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Old Jul 21st, 2018, 12:06 AM
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Driving south we generally prefer the Reims/Troyes route over the Luxemburg/Metz/Nancy route.
It's much more quiet, and a prettier drive. Around Metz/Nancy/Thionville the maximum speed goes down to 110 or 90 regularly, and it gets busy around these cities.
On the Reims/Troyes route it's 130 all the way.

Overnight in Maastricht or nearby would be nice. And visit the tiny village of Thorn.

Avoid Saturdays in August on the French roads! Motorways and secondary roads get extremely busy.
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