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Car rental Belguim

Hello,
We are traveling end of April 2024 ( 6 of us). Flying in to CDG spending 4 days Paris then to Normandy for 3 days. Using the train / metro while in Paris. Renting a car in Normandy. When we depart Normandy by train we are staying in the Netherlands for one week. In the Netherlands the first part is in Utrecht then down towards Maastricht. My question is I thought about a car rental in Brussels and return car to Brussels and fly out of BRU....? Is this a good plan? What is the best place to rent a car there, we will be arriving by train from Normandy.
Or take a fast train to Amsterdam and rent a car and drive to Utrecht ?
I am not familiar with the ease of best car rental or difficulty driving from either airport.
We are open have not purchased air tickets yet. Thank you for your kind assistance.
Dawn

Posted by
7486 posts

Is this a first trip to Europe?

I don't think there is a reliable rule about airport rentals being more expensive (as in the US, because of airport authority fees, for example) in Europe. But you might expect more car choice, or maybe more (of the few ... ) automatic transmissions at airports. BTW, a problem in Belgium is getting gas just before returning the car at BRU, if you have any trouble with your credit card at an UNATTENDED gas station. BRU is a major airport, with multiple rental desks. But the train goes to the three downtown Brussels stations, not to the airport. Special airport train easy to take, however.

No one on this newsboard agrees with me, but my wife failed to get the automatic transmission she reserved at BRU about ten times, on business trips. The company had an exclusive deal with the one big-three rental company.

You do not want to rent a car in Amsterdam proper. I personally would not want a car in the Amsterdam-Utrecht area. But it's certainly helpful in Normandy and in eastern Netherlands. Always a drag to park in a city visit, of course. Not sure why you want to drive to Utrecht - are there stops to make on the way? When we drove across the Netherlands, we deliberately chose banal business-hotels on the edge of town, so we could count on a free parking space, and a quick park after a day of driving.

You might wish to think about the large jumps in your vacation. Normandy is way west of Paris, and quite far from the Netherlands. Have you calculated the wasted time in travel? Are you aware that you will have to change rail stations, not just trains, in Paris to get to the Netherlands? Are you really going to Maastricht, or to the Hoge Veluwe area?

Posted by
6520 posts

It sound a lot easier to take the train from Paris to Utrecht, and a train from Utrecht to Maastricht.

Posted by
11 posts

Second trip to this area but was 25+ years ago. Taking my grand daughter & her husband and daughter and son in law. We will be sight seeing from Utrecht area by car with the exception of train into Amsterdam. Then driving to southern part of the Netherlands and plan to return car. Is it fairly easy to return rental car to the Midi train station in Brussels and then get to BRU?

Posted by
359 posts

In short, no, it's not easy to pick up or return a rental car to Brussels Midi. Did it once, never again. It's downtown in a confusing maze of streets and the rental car location is not easy to navigate. I'd pay extra to rent or return at the airport.

Posted by
1382 posts

Are you really sure you need a car? What does your day by day itinerary look like?
Public transport in the Netherlands and Belgium is very well organized. Depending on what you plan to see and do, you may not need a car.

Posted by
11 posts

Staying on the outskirts of Utrecht and plan to go to Amsterdam by train then drive to Volendam/Marken, Keukenhof, Delft, Giethoorn ..... we previously drove down the Rhine River towards the Maastricht area, such a beautiful drive. Hence why we wanted to rent a car. We also did VRBO house rental and will need to by supplies. Sounds like I need to rent car in BRU airport, for ease of return if we plan to fly out BRU.
Thank you for your kind replys!!

Posted by
7486 posts

I have taken a car to Keukenhof, but that was the same day we returned it before our Amsterdam stay. I would not take a car to Delft or Volendam. These are places well-served by unreserved, inexpensive trains. Wait until you see how narrow the aisles and spaces are in the paid-parking garages you will be forced to search for and use. Even in rural places, the 15-minutes to get off the highway, find your way in town to the garage, and park and pay really eats into your sense of "freedom of the open road". This is not like going to the Mall at home.

Posted by
67 posts

You'll be a lot in the car if you have only 2 weeks. You shouldn't underestimate the distance between all the things you want to visit. Most of the cities you want to visit in the Netherlands aren't exactly car friendly. Keep also in mind that the traffic in Belgium and the Netherlands can get very busy during rush hour.

I'd get a car at the airport (Brussels), it's way more convenient then getting one at Brussels midi. You'll be in the centre of Brussels while the airport is located next to high way. The time you'll gain by getting your car earlier, you'll lose by getting out of Brussels. Brussels has a new "circulation plan". A lot of the streets are one way now and they've implemented several zones with a maximum speed of 30km/h. I'd just avoid it to be honest. Even for locals it's sometimes complicated and mind your speed as there are a lot of cameras and speed controls.

Posted by
1382 posts

You still haven’t posted a day-to-day itinerary. I didn’t ask for that because I’m nosy, but because we can help you better. You say you plan to be here starting “end of April” which means your visit could coincide with several holidays in May which may have an impact on crowds and on opening hours of sights, shops etc.
None of the places you want to visit require a car. In fact in some places a car will be an expensive nuisance. And with 6 people plus luggage you’re going to need a big car.

Also I’m a bit confused about your statement that during a previous visit, you drove down the Rhine towards Maastricht. As the name of the city already suggests the river that flows thru Maastricht is the river Maas. The Rhine doesn’t run in the southern part of our country and doesn’t come anywhere near Maastricht. So I’m curious which part of our country you actually visited back then.

Posted by
11 posts

I am sorry I didn't list the dates May 1 to May 8. If I remember correctly we left the Kerkrade area and crossed into Germany and drove own the Rhine I think ???? It was a random drive and found it to be a wonderful and unplanned saw several castles as we drove.
Your opinion on the dates we are in Netherlands ?

Posted by
11 posts

You are correct that the Rhine we saw was in Germany, then we drove back to Maastricht, Netherlands

Posted by
1382 posts

What do you mean when you say your dates are May 1 to May 8? Do you arrive in the Netherlands on May 1? Or is that the day you plan to travel from France to Belgium to pick up your rental car? If the latter, I would think it would be very difficult if not impossible to do that. May 1 is Labor Day which is a major holiday in both France and Belgium. Lots of businesses will be closed.
In the Netherlands, May 4 and May 5 are holidays. But whether or not these will have an impact depends on what you plan to do that day.
Like I said, I’m not asking for your itinerary because I’m nosy, but because it will help the people here to help you better. I also think it can help you plan your trip better.

Posted by
11 posts

I apologize for the lack of specifics ..... but our schedule is loose at this time. We will be traveling by train from the Normandy area of France to Brussels on May 1st. Our thought was to arrive at BRU airport and get rental car there and drive to Kerklaan north of Utrecht. We have a VRBO rented there and will use as a hub base for daily sightseeing. Our plan was to go to Amsterdam by train one day. Kuekenhof gardens, Volendam/Marrken , perhaps Arnhem or Giethoorn. We leave morning of May 5th to go to Sittard again VRBO rented with daily sightseeing to Margraten American War Cemetery, Valkenburg, Maastricht, and Bastogne Belguim. What my husband and I remember most was the surprises along the way and such beauty as we drove the country side , while somethings must be planned I understand. I thank you for sharing with me the May holidays I was unaware. Do you think they will impact our plans and how to best schedule?
Much thanks, Dawn

Posted by
67 posts

Don't worry car rental shops at Brussel Airport will be open on the 1st of May. If you don't mind driving electric, you should check out Ufodrive. You get the car via an app and return it the same way. So it's open "24 hours". They have a fleet of Tesla model S.

Posted by
6520 posts

Is there any reason for a stop in Brussels? If it's just to rent a car that sounds like a really bad idea. Why not just take the train direct to Utrecht? Much easier, and saves you having to drive from Brussels to Utrecht which sounds like a really bad idea. That area is one of the most densely populated areas of Europe with some of the most congested roads. So unless you really enjoy this, take the train.

And if you plan to do the daily sightseeing by car, you are making a mistake. It's at least good that you don't plan to drive to Amsterdam, but Delft would also be much easier to visit by train. And he same is true for many other places you've listed.

You should also be careful when thinking about your past trip. A lot has happened in the Netherlands in the last 25+ years.