Paris and Belgium - How to split?

Old Feb 19th, 2020, 12:40 PM
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Paris and Belgium - How to split?

Hello! My wife and I just booked a trip in mid-August to Paris and are beginning to plan our trip. We spent 3 full days in Paris a few years ago and hit up the major tourist spots, so we were looking to travel somewhere new too. While both of us have been to Europe a few times, this is our first time on our own so any and all recommendations on how to make this trip successful are welcomed! Trying new foods, beers and seeing the history are the biggest things for us. We always say we want to do some relaxing too, but it never seems to happen!

We arrive from Minneapolis to Paris around 8 AM on August 13th, and fly home at 9AM on August 19th, so we have about 6 full days. My original thought was to spend the first day relaxing in Paris and hopefully recover from our flight before moving onto Belgium via the train for 3 nights. Our last couple days we likely would return to Paris before flying home. My wife also thought we could squeeze in a one night trip to Amsterdam but we may have trouble squeezing that in.

Do you have recommendation or ideas on how we can best split this up? So far looking at strictly Airbnb for stays and public transport to get us around. It sounds like most recommendations are to stay in Bruges and adventure out from there for day trips. We aren't firmly attached to anything yet but would love to hit as many cities in Belgium especially as possible (Bruges vs Ghent vs Brussels?).

Thanks everybody!
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Old Feb 19th, 2020, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by rossgconn View Post
My original thought was to spend the first day relaxing in Paris and hopefully recover from our flight before moving onto Belgium via the train for 3 nights. Our last couple days we likely would return to Paris before flying home. My wife also thought we could squeeze in a one night trip to Amsterdam but we may have trouble squeezing that in.
Thanks everybody!
First you have about 5 days and a half. If you do this many hotel check-in/outs, you will be throwing away 10% or more of your time right out off the bat without gaining anything in return.
Also think if you really can "relax" in Paris when you arrive at 8am. You will probably at the hotel door before 11am. If it is a hotel, you can at least leave your luggage. If it is a rental, hopefully LEGAL one in Paris, you have to think what you are going to do if they cannot keep your luggage before check-in.
One way to solve both issues is to travel straight to Bruges (or Amsterdam if she insists) on landing and then to Bruges, then to Paris at the end. Of course, you realize if you had this in mind, the most logical way to do this would have been to fly into Amsterdam and return from Paris especially you wanted something outside of Paris this time but being Paris heavy again this time.
With so few days, three destinations is a stretch especially starting from and ending in Paris.
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Old Feb 19th, 2020, 02:05 PM
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With your limited amount of time, I might be tempted to split it between Amsterdam and Belgium with just a short time in Paris since you have been there before. You could go into Paris on arrival and stay somewhere near the Gare du Nord and then go to Amsterdam on the 14th. There are a lot of Thalys trains leaving daily. Then you could spend the 14th and 15th in Amsterdam and then 16 in Brugges 17th in Ghent (or 2 nights in one or the other) and then take the train back to Paris and spend the night of the 18th either in town or out near CDG since you need to be at the airport around 6:30AM anyway on the 19th.

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Old Feb 19th, 2020, 06:40 PM
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We arrive early in Paris and we grab the car or get the train to our first destination. You could get the train into whichever destination you pick and get there in time to check-in and drop off the bags. The last trip we picked Lille for several nights and went to Ypres one day. We then went on to Brussels. It saves us time and then we go to Paris at the end of our trip.
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Old Feb 19th, 2020, 07:49 PM
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In Belgium I would probably pick one base (probably not Bruges for logistical reasons) and make that your hub to avoid one-nighters which eat into your time. Either Ghent or Brussels would be good for this, and from there you can radiate out. The cities are close together but try to avoid less than a day in any one location or you will short-change them. A hub like Brussels would allow you to take towns or cities to the east like Leuven, Dinant or Namur, if you cut out Amsterdam, but if you only go for Bruges, Ghent, Brussels and possibly Antwerp then Ghent is perfectly adequate. With 5 days on the ground, if you are looking to maximise time in Belgium then I would go straight to Brussels or Ghent (by train) on the first day.

Good luck!

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Old Feb 19th, 2020, 08:48 PM
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you have very little time actually on the ground (five usable days plus about half a jet lagged arrival day) so if you try to fit in four cities Paris (twice) some place in Belgium and Amsterdam, you would be spending two full days (40% ) of your time in transit.

I'd plan on two cities only --Paris is a given so pick one other. BUT try to place all your Paris nights together at the end so you have one less hotel change. From CDG travel immediately to the first city -- say Amsterdam or Brussels or Ghent. Then after a few days travel back to Paris to finish up and fly home.

Do note that most short term rentals in Amsterdam and Paris are illegal. Hotels would be better in both cities.
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Old Feb 19th, 2020, 09:56 PM
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Agree with Janisj; bite the bullet and continue traveling on your arrival day to Belgium. Or Amsterdam - in which case it might be easier to continue on a flight from CDG directly.
Brugge will be jam-packed in August, but staying in the city will give you relatively quiet early mornings and evenings, without tour groups.
If you go for Amsterdam, just take the train straight to Paris - possibly stopping in Brussels for a lunch near the Grand Place.

Bear in mind that August 15 is a holiday in France and Belgium, but not in the Netherlands.
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Old Feb 19th, 2020, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Tulips View Post
Agree with Janisj; bite the bullet and continue traveling on your arrival day to Belgium. Or Amsterdam - in which case it might be easier to continue on a flight from CDG directly.
Brugge will be jam-packed in August, but staying in the city will give you relatively quiet early mornings and evenings, without tour groups.
If you go for Amsterdam, just take the train straight to Paris - possibly stopping in Brussels for a lunch near the Grand Place.

Bear in mind that August 15 is a holiday in France and Belgium, but not in the Netherlands.
Stopping for lunch on thalys requires a reservation on one train to Brussels and then another from Brussels to Paris, after lunch. They'll pay for their lunch alright.
Better would be to take the regular Intl Intercity service to Brussels from Amsterdam and Thalys to Paris from there.

BTW, the "we've been to Paris already so now we want to go somewhere else", seems a curious argument to me. If you have 5 days: spend them on Paris.
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