Thoughts on our itinerary....

Old Jan 18th, 2023, 09:18 AM
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Thoughts on our itinerary....

Hello and thank you for your thoughts and suggestions. We are a family of four (oldest daughter 19, youngest turning 16 on our trip) and I'd like your thoughts on our itinerary. Not including plans in each stop right now. Just hoping this is a doable plan.
~Thank you,

Arrive in London from Los Angeles (6 nights)
train to Amsterdam (3 nights)
train to Lille (2 nights)
train to Tours/Loire Valley (3 nights)
train to Brittany - not sure where yet (3 nights)
train to Paris (7 nights)
Fly from Paris back to LA
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 09:24 AM
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The allocation of days looks quite good IMO.

I'm not as knowledgeable about trains in France as some others (only done a few train trips starting/ending in Paris) so not sure about connections between those regions.
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 10:14 AM
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What month(s) would you be traveling? Have you ruled out the possibility of renting a car for some of the trip, especially within France?

My only recommendation in the abstract would be to pick another city than London for your arrival point. You're going to be jetlagged and bleary from the long flight and time change, and, to me at least, London is so huge and so intense, that coping with it while still "impaired" (ha ha) is really hard on the system. Look left instead of right when you step into the street and you're massacred by a big red bus, stuff like that. If it was me, I'd pick Amsterdam in a heartbeat for a soft landing - it's relatively small and compact, very "European" and hip, everybody speaks English, and the cars and buses drive on the same side of the road as LA. Maybe think of reversing things and depart from London instead of Paris; by the time you're ready to leave you'll be old hands at coping with big European cities.
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 10:25 AM
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janisj - Thanks for the quick reply. I know that Lille is on the Eurostar line. It looks like there's a high speed option to Tours from Lille as well. From Tours to Brittany and Brittany to Paris I'm not too sure about, but certainly think we can get from one spot to the other in a few hours.

Gardyloo - We will be traveling in July as we are both teachers and our kids are in hs/college. I'll look into flying into Amsterdam and out of London. We thought London would be good so we don't have too much of a language barrier (besides the accent!). I know most/all speak English in Amsterdam and it is a much smaller city. To be honest I'm a bit intimidated to drive in Europe and have enjoyed taking trains when I traveled in the past. We'll see....
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 10:51 AM
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Just a thought for you: while "winging it" is admirable, if you and your family do later want to see certain landmarks such as Anne Frank house, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, etc. it is recommended to purchase timed entries as soon as you can, especially since you're traveling in high season.

Even with some passes, the lines can be long with those and can effectively cut into your sightseeing as well.

YMMV, but something to consider.

Edit: perhaps i was reading too fast and interpreted your post as a "not including plans for each stop" as not that you won't later. Oy. Forgive me!
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 11:07 AM
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Lille is one of my least favorite large cities in France. Too much of it was destroyed in WWII (and I think WWI also). But as you stated, it is convenient in getting from Amsterdam to Tours (I assume you really mean St Pierre des Corps).

I strongly recommend that once you get to St Pierre, that you rent a car for visiting the Chateaux country & nearby Brittany. The Loire chateaux area is best visited by car, and so is Brittany. Travel between St Pierre & Rennes/Brittany involves a train change and takes 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 hrs in the middle of the day. Then how do you get elsewhere in Brittany???? You can return the car in Rennes, St Malo, Vannes, and Quimper to get back to Paris by train (with 0 train changes).

My wife & I have vacationed for 13 weeks in Brittany and around 8 weeks in the Loire chateau area. I developed a 20+ page itinerary for Normandy & Brittany that describes our favorite spots. I have a "shortie" for vistiting the Chateaux area. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at my Fodors name at AOL & I'll attach them to the reply e-mail.

If you can find your way through the LA freeways - you can handle France (stay away from Paris).

I was raised in San Gabriel.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Jan 18th, 2023 at 11:14 AM.
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Old Jan 18th, 2023, 11:54 AM
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Travel_Nerd - Thanks for the info . Will definitely be posting more when we decide all the spots we want to visit in each locale.

StuD - I was actually born in San Gabriel! Live about 15 miles east these days. I'll rethink not having a car. Also, thanks for the info about your previous trips. I'll email you for that info. I appreciate the willingness of everyone here to help.

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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 08:14 AM
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Wondering if Bruges would be an acceptable replacement for Lille? Seems like Lille is not a fan favorite here.
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 03:33 PM
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we really enjoyed Lille. we went there by train (there are 2 stations one for Eurostar etc and one for local)-travelled from paris. we went there to visit the Australian WW 1 areas at Fromelles. .There's lots to see round Lille area as well.
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 04:35 PM
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What about Ghent? It has such a lively riverfront with restaurants, music, etc. close enough for a day trip to Bruges.
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 09:33 PM
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If you are driving into the city you choose, be aware that in Ghent there is a Low Emission Zone (LEZ, also found in Antwerp and Brussels) and while you can drive into the city, you have to register your car and buy a pass. Your car has to meet certain environmental criteria, which most (new) rental cars do. It's not a problem, nor is it expensive, but takes a little planning.

If you drive to Bruges they don't recommend driving into the centre. Certain streets are closed to traffic and if you drive in you won't be parking. You are supposed to park in one of the parking stations such as those on the outskirts (for example at the railway station) and catch a bus (or I guess even a taxi) to your hotel. So maybe Bruges is not ideal for your plans.

Last time we drove to Bruges (part of a longer holiday with a lot of driving), we stayed in a hotel outside of Bruges (the Green Park Hotel Bruges) so that parking was not difficult or costly and so we could set off on the road easily in the morning. We probably need not have worried as parking at the station is inexpensive compared with hotel car parks. But it was a nice experience, even though I thought the rooms could do with a freshen up. We were with other Belgian families, not many foreign tourists, and there was a pool which my daughter and husband used in the evening after we retired from sightseeing. The breakfast was very good. However, for many people part of the charm of Bruges is being there after the tourists leave and staying in the centre for the evening. You might also have a hotel with a particular ambience in mind, and so this might not be the hotel of your dreams. Anyway, I submit it as part of our experiences, take it or leave it.

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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 02:52 AM
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i think London is fine for your first destination. It is however a huge city and I would take a day or two from Paris and add it to London. You can do some day trips from London if you wish. It has been a long time since I was in Lille but I would not put it high up on my destination list unless there is something specific about Lille that interests you. Do think you need a car for Brittany and the loire valley. if you can handle the 405 you can drive in France outside of Paris with GPS and a navigator. You might want to add time to your Brittany destination by adding Normandy instead of Lille. This part of France does get a fair amount of rain which you will have to take into consideration. Also there was a lot of summer heat last year in Europe so you may wish to book lodgings with AC in London and Paris.
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