Tips for Paris/Brussels

Dec 20th, 2017, 09:17 PM
  #1  
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Tips for Paris/Brussels

Flying into Paris Jan 8 to meet my 20 YO, Daughter, we have from Jan 8-15 for paris, brussels and wherever we decide (want to visit a couple breweries in Brussels). We plan on using trains and buses to get around except flights to Madrid and then to London. My current plan is
Jan 8-11 in Paris
Bayuex Jan 11-12 for a tour of the D-day beaches and that area
Jan 13 head to Brussels to visit Cantillion Brewery and westvleteren abby for a few more beers
Jan 15-18 head to Madrid to see where my daughter is going to School
Jan 18 or 19 fly to London to catch my flight home.
This is not a definite schedule and can be slightly manipulated.
Now for my questions:
Does this seem doable?
What are the best ways to get to Normandy?
What are some must sees in Paris/Brussels/Nomandy?
Any recommendations on cheap places to stay in any of those places?
Should we pre book trains/buses or is it fairly cheap to book them day of travel if we decide we want to stay somewhere a day or two longer?
If I arrive at Heathrow at 0830 will I have time to get my checked bags from Iberia air, then recheck them on Virgin for my 330pm flight home? Or should I just fly in the night before saving the hassle and stress of missing my flight?

Thanks for any help
sfdtiller is offline  
Dec 20th, 2017, 11:14 PM
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Normandy visit; two good ways. Take a tour , they pick you up, take you around and show you stuff. You can do tht from Paris or go to a rail head and get a pick up or from staying in a major town like Bayeux. Or... Catch a train to a railhead like Caen and hire a car and do it your self.

The tours are very good and if I only had one day I'd do that. Normandy needs a car to get around and while France is not that tricky there are a few things to learn which might not be necessary for a holiday.

Trains, see seat61.com for overview, generally book trains early (but say CDG to central paris is on the day on the commute train). How cheap do you want the accom?
bilboburgler is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 01:38 AM
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There are no must-sees anywhere. Grab a guidebook or two and decide what you're interested in doing. You're not in any of those places long enough to get more than a tiny taste of them anyway.

What is "cheap?" How many euros do you have to spend per night for accommodations?

It is cheap to buy train tickets for same-day travel if traveling on regional trains. For long distances you can save a LOT of money buying in advance.
StCirq is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 04:02 AM
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Visiting Westvleteren Abbey will be a challenge without a car. If you want to buy beer there, you have to reserve this in advance. They only have limited availability.
Tulips is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 04:21 AM
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Fly home from Madrid using a multi-destination search function for the itinerary. It's probably too late for that advice since you likely have your tickets.
Although I like European trains, the ride from Brussels to Madrid is a haul (especially hung over.) Consider flying. www.skyscanner.com is good for one-way European budget airlines. The starting point for any rail research, as already mentioned, is www.seat61.com
Whatever your transport, you will be paying top dollar/euro for fares since you are booking at the last minute.
Southam is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 06:06 AM
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Should we pre book trains/buses or is it fairly cheap to book them day of travel if we decide we want to stay somewhere a day or two longer?>

Yes like others say booking FAR in advance can save tons - like on Thalys (www.thalys.com) trains Paris-Brussels - save about $100 if book early to get limited in number discounted tickets. Ditto Paris-Bayuex (www.oui.sncf/en) -

Trains best to Bayeux from Paris Saintg-Lazare station. To Brussels from there back to Paris and take Thalys train. For lots on trains www.seat61.com is a wealth of info and also I like www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Brussels to Madrid yes fly.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 08:19 AM
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In Brussels, the Horta museum:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...7622960216715/ and subsequent pictures, unless Art Nouveau does not interest you.
Michael is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 08:20 AM
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sure, there's nothing about it that isn't doable. Visiting Normandy in early January wouldn't be appealing to me, but you can do it.

The only way to get to Normandy that makes any sense is by train. What else would you do, drive? well, you can but I don't know why you would. You can save about 25 euro one way on those train tickets if bought in advance, but it isn't mandatory, they aren't that expensive anyway. so maybe 20 versus 45 euro. At least if you want the IC direct trains, which I would want anyway, but depends on your schedule. You don't save if you book a connecting TER.

It sounds like you already have your Dday tour plans made, if not, there are several good companies that do that from Bayeux.
Christina is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 11:01 AM
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Very little time in London? Maybe can D-Day area especially since weather could be terrible - not real cold but funky and dark and wet and spend a few days more in London?
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 06:18 PM
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-If I arrive at Heathrow at 0830 will I have time to get my checked bags from Iberia air, then recheck them on Virgin for my 330pm flight home? Or should I just fly in the night before saving the hassle and stress of missing my flight?-

Fly the day before. What if something happens and your Iberia flight is delayed or cancelled?
rialtogrl is offline  
Dec 21st, 2017, 09:31 PM
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Arrival at 8.30 am and next flight at 3.30 pm gives you plenty of time. Can you not book the flights on a single ticket so that your bags get labelled to the final destination?
Tulips is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2017, 04:20 AM
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Brussels itself can be covered quite quickly - most of the historical sights are close together. Make sure you see the Grand Place square, it's touristy but it's really spectacular. The Atomium tower on the edge of the city (Heysel metro station) is also pretty cool if you like futuristic things. There's an exhibition inside and there are great views all over the city. Consider adding a side trip to Bruges - it's less than an hour on the train from Zuid/Midi station and it's so so much prettier than Brussels there is so much history there! I hope this helps! Enjoy!
elisgriffiths is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2017, 07:40 AM
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Brussels most famous sight after Grand' Place is the Mannequin Pis - statue of little boy peeing - right near Grand' Place. Has become the symbol of Brussels it seems.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2017, 09:02 AM
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Well Atomium, from some long ago World's Fair or such, is also a symbol for Brussels. Was futuristic then and I guess now - a giant atom or such.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2017, 10:26 AM
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Tulips, I assumed the flight in and out of Europe was already booked. Maybe that was not the correct assumption, but if it is I would not do a same day flight if it is not on the same ticket (unless it is the same airline.)
rialtogrl is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2017, 10:44 AM
  #16  
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Thank you all for your replies, helps a lot in the planning.
I used miles for one way and sadly you have to RT on the majors to get home so I booked out of London, Premium Economy for $700 RT on Virgin vs. flying economy from anywhere else CDG,MAD,BCN,AMS,BRU for about $900. I have been to London before but will fly in day before just to save the hassle of a possible late flight.

As far as budget for Accom, would prefer under $100 euros a night. Have looked at Hostels but they inch up to the same price as many hotels in cost when booking for 2 people.
sfdtiller is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2017, 12:48 PM
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$100 euros> ??? which one?

$1.15 = 1 euro - tough for good hotels - consider the Accor chain hotels www.accorhotels.com for ones in city centers and deals.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2017, 07:39 AM
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As far as budget for Accom, would prefer under $100 euros a night.>

Have you looked at airbnb?
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2017, 03:23 PM
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I didn't realize the $ was only american, lol. I am looking at Euros cost not Dollars. I will check out Accor. As far as airbnb i keep seeing reference to people needing registration numbers in Paris so got a little nervous about that. Plus no idea what are good areas vs bad. They all look really beautiful and un-American (which I like).
sfdtiller is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2017, 04:31 PM
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Plus no idea what are good areas vs bad>

There are no 'bad' areas in Paris itself - northern suburbs perhaps. Paris city officials are in process of determining which airbnbs. Paris is cracking down on airbnbs and weeding out legitimate ones - we've had several threads recently on this. So if the airbnb meets the requires of city of Paris - I assume registration number would be indication of that - anyway for your budget goal per night may be the best way to go.
PalenQ is offline  

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