My wife and I toured Europe with our Rick Steves book in hand on our fifth wedding anniversary 21 years ago. We visited Brussels and Bruges on that trip along with many special places in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. We rented an inexpensive car and stayed in hostels and had a great time.
I'm reaching out to the Rick Steves online community now for last-minute travel advice on a trip we're taking later this month. We are spending Christmas with friends in Osnabruck Germany and have a few days at the end of our trip for another adventure. We're flying in and out of Paris to save money, and are renting a car and driving to Osnabruck when we arrive on 12/22 and flying back out on 1/1. We plan to be in Osnabruck through either 12/29 or 12/30 and then have a couple of days and nights to wander before our return flight. We currently have a reservation at a hotel near Charles de Gaulle on 12/31 for convenience.
My question is, given a couple of extra days and knowing we start in Osnabruck on either the 29th or 30th and must end up at the Paris airport New Years Eve, where could/should we head with the kids (ages 16 and 11)? We aren't big on museums or even history, but would love to spend time in either Belgium or France doing any of the following: hiking (but not camping), touring quaint towns, general sightseeing, sampling food (and beers), shopping Christmas markets. Having great options for running would be a plus also.
Our original plan was to spend the last couple of days in Paris and enjoy New Years Eve at the Eiffel Tower watching fireworks, but as many on this board probably already know we learned that there are no fireworks there on New Year Eve, and France in general isn't big on celebrating New Years, at least not like we're used to.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.