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Travelling from Normandy through Belgium to Amsterdam

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Apr 28th, 2013, 06:45 PM
  #1
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Travelling from Normandy through Belgium to Amsterdam

We will be arriving in Paris at the end of May and our plan is to travel through Normandy to Belgium and on to Amsterdam. As Canadians, we have family who fought in WWII and want to visit the Normandy beaches and the battle sites . Can Normandy, Belgium and the Netherlands be visited via rail only or is a rail/drive pass the best option? Any recommendations about how to travel, places to see and accommodations would be greatly appreciated!
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Apr 29th, 2013, 12:15 AM
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Hi, I don't know the battlegrounds in Belgium for Canadians but if you can be more precise I can tell you if you are better off by car or rail. For the most part the rail network in Belgium is very dense and functions extremely well, but it could be that you want to visit somewhere in the Ardennes like Bastogne, in which case you would need to take a train to Libramont and then a local bus. I've never done it but I can imagine that this might be the point where one throws up one's hands and says: can't we just drive?

You might be interested in this thread which was topped recently:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-elsewhere.cfm

I believe Farrermog (a Fodorite) has done quite a bit of visiting war cemeteries so you might click on his name and see his other posts.

Lavandula
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Apr 29th, 2013, 12:58 AM
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We have visited the World War 11 sites in Normandy. We have also visited World War 1 sites in Picardy & Flanders, including an evocative Canadian site with a large elk? dominating the area. However, we had a car that allowed us to easily locate the sites. I am unsure if public transport will enable your visits, as many were out of towns.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 03:07 AM
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Is this a one way trip? If so then a car is perhaps not the best option given the drop off fees. If it is a round trip back to France then I would hire a car. It will give you more flexibility and you will be better able to visit the sites you want. Don't forget the Canadians played a huge part in liberating the Netherlands too and there are many places of interest for you here too.

Alternatively you could of course hire a car in each country and train between the countries.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 03:09 AM
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Oh and you won't want a car in Amsterdam itself, but if you want to visit WW2 sites then a car will be useful in the Netherlands.

You need to do a bit of planning perhaps as to what you want to see, and where, then look at whether public transport is feasible for everything or not.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 07:11 PM
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Many thanks to everyone for your responses! Yes, it's a one way trip which is why the rail/drive pass had been suggested. Does anyone know about this? We'll be visiting the Normandy beaches, Dieppe, Vimy Ridge then in to Belgium and Ypres, Brugges, Antwerp, etc. Again, all suggestions are greatly appreciated!
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Apr 29th, 2013, 07:16 PM
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Have you considered a night or two in Honfleur?
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Apr 29th, 2013, 08:00 PM
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Hi again SMRFJR, Ypres is a WWI site, but wonderful to visit anyway. The Menin Gate is very impressive; be sure to be there at sunset for the bugler. To visit war cemeteries like Tyne Cot you need a car - no question. But it is worth it. There is another thread on this at the moment and the advice I gave there is that car rental in Ypres is hard to access. Here is what I found:

http://www.goldenpages.be/automobile...-rental/ieper/ (look at the map to see what I mean).

Or alternatively pick up a car in Bruges, Ghent or even Kortrijk (Courtrai), all of which should be easier - bigger companies, more choices, more central pick-up locations.

Lavandula
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Apr 30th, 2013, 06:17 PM
  #9
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Yes, we're trying to find accommodations in Honfleur - any suggestion? Many thanks lavendula for your suggestions. Looks like renting a car in Bruges would be better. Any experience with rail/drive packages, or does such a thing exist?
Thanks again!
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Apr 30th, 2013, 08:15 PM
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I stayed at the Best Western Le Chevel Blanc. It was fine with a great bathroom. All rooms overlook the harbor. There is a public parking lot to the right of the hotel (if looking at the front of the hotel).

Lots of recommendations from others here on Fodors for other hotels, b&b's, etc.
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