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Trip planning/dreaming, Belguim, France, Luxembourg, Mosel River Germany

I'm roughing out an itinerary to be used in the future. Looking for some input on the route. We'll start in Amsterdam since we can fly there direct. We'll stay in Harlem and/or Delft and then head to Belgium where we are interested in Bruges, Domme and Ghent. In France we'd like to see Verdun and the Champagne region, possibly Chantilly. We are also considering Luxembourg and Cochem/Mosel Germany. I hope to use trains until we get to France. If we wanted to see Flanders and WWI sights, would we need a car? If so, we won't go. I'm looking at picking up a car in Reims (or another Champagne city) see Champagne area and Verdon and then drive to Luxembourg and Mosel River and then back to France to return the car and fly out of Paris.

We've been to Amsterdam and Paris. We've been to France 4 or so times. We will have 3-4 weeks, probably would take the trip in the Fall. I'm not sure Brussels interests us. We've been to Alsace and along the Rhine.

Is there a route that makes the most sense in terms of transportation and car pick up? I think 3 nights in Luxembourg and another 3 in Mosel is probably enough?

Feel free to suggest other cities in Belgium or Northern France. We love small, scenic French villages. I believe I am a Francophile!

Posted by
20290 posts

Reims is not a simple train trip from northern Belgium. Looks like a TGV to Paris or CDG then back to Reims. You might pick up the car at Lille Europe as there are several big agencies at that station, then drive from there.

Posted by
5779 posts

I knew Reims involved a Paris transfer and it was 2-3 hours, but Lille looks like a great idea. I don’t think we’d want to return in Lille, but, likely we can return elsewhere. Lille looks like a city we could spend a bit of time.

Posted by
2000 posts

From Bruges there are tours to Ieper/Ypres for visiting the WW1 sites.

Lille is an easy train ride from Bruges or Ghent and is as already noticed a much used place for picking up a rental car for those visiting France, besides this is Lille also certainly worth a visit to my opinion. On the way to Reims worth a visit are Arras for it’s two beautiful main squares and Laon, a lovely hilltop town and known for it’s cathedral. Between Arras and Lille Vimy Ridge is a famous WW1 site worth to see if of further interest.

Edit: For next month I am planning a trip to Metz, Nancy and maybe Verdun too. However still not decided yet going to there. In general it’s not the best part in France for finding scenic villages, especially compared to those you can find for instance in Alsace and Normandy.

Nevertheless worth considering further:

Romagne-sous-Montfaucon east of Verdun for it’s American cemetry.
Rodemack for it’s citadel.
Fort Hackenberg east of Thionville, once part of the Maginot Line.
Luxembourg city.
Esch-sur-Sûre and Vianden, both lovely villages. The castel in Vianden is open to public.
Trier, famous for it’s Roman history.
Bernkastel-Kues, like Cochem nice place to visit along the Mosel river.
Burg Eltz, one of Germanies finest medieval castles.

Posted by
5779 posts

Thank you, Sam and Wil. So here is a plan I'm pondering:
1. Haarlem, Delft and The Hague (where is the best place to base?)
2.Bruges (bike trip to Damme and day trip to Ghent
3.Lille, pick up car, drive thru southern Belgium to Luxembourg City for 4 night stay
4 Moselle River (Winnigen, Cochem, Trier, where to base?
5 Drive to Champagne stop in Verdun (or overnight if necessary
6Drive to Lille to return car, stop in Laon on the way
7Stay in Lille, day trip to Arras, also, maybe Amiens as a day trip??
8Train to Amiens, Chantilly,
9Stay in Chantilly, possible day trips to Auvers, Senlis, Paris
10Chantilly to CDG, hopefully with public transportation

Posted by
67 posts

You could take the train from Ghent to Brussels and then to Luxembourg city. Once there you can take the train to Trier and Cochem or rent a car in Luxembourg. It's gonna be a lot faster. Lille is a detour if you want to go Luxembourg.

From Luxembourg to Rheims is about 2 hours 30 by train.

Posted by
5779 posts

@NSTTSN, that’s an interesting and attractive option. I’d have to rent and return in Luxembourg. I’m only finding AVIS and they are a fair more expensive than renting out of Lille. And then I’d have to get a car again in Reims. The renting/return/transfer to train, twice, would take some time, but, I think it’s worth exploring a bit more.

Posted by
4383 posts

Just curious-what's the attraction to Luxembourg? I definitely agree that you should skip Brussels, but Ypres was eye-opening to us. WWI just doesn't seem to get much attention in the US.

Posted by
67 posts

Luxembourg city is quite nice and if you like hiking Mullerthal has some really nice trails.

@julesm if you like small scenic French villages Durbuy might be another nice stop. You might like Bouillon and Dinant too. You could pass there if you opt to rent a car in Lille and drive through the south of Belgium towards Luxembourg.

Posted by
5779 posts

I know people that have gone to Luxembourg and have really liked it. I hear it is a more expensive place to travel, so we'd only stay a few days, but it is on the way to the Moselle from Belgium. Luxembourg might not be on everyone's "radar". I'm also seeing that there are not a lot of the more common travel guides for the country.

I'm very excited about this itinerary, so any additional thoughts are most welcome. I think it will be a fall trip. Its looking like Fall 2023 may not work, but perhaps 2024 would work.

Posted by
4383 posts

We have been to Ypres and it's worth renting a car to go there. I think that anyone who wants to have a clearer picture of European history must go to Ypres. I don't think most Americans have any knowledge of what a catastrophe it was. And the countryside there feels so peaceful today.

Posted by
14580 posts

Both the British and the Germans viewed Ypres as a meat grinder. utter carnage. Ypres in Nov. 1914 saw the final destruction of the original members of the BEF that landed in France in August 1914. The Germans call the place, "das Kindermord von Ypern. "

Posted by
5779 posts

Sounds like there is a lot to do related to WWI and WWII in this area. Thanks

Posted by
14 posts

There is a small WW1 site very near the champagne region of France call Belleau Wood. Not a big site but if you have a car anyway, I thought I'd put this on your radar.
It's an important site for the US Marines, part of our history but not whole lot to see. Their is a US military cemetary and chapel, and nearby where the battle took place there are some things to see as well. (Artillary pieces , a statue , and some plaques detailing the battle.
Good luck and have a safe trip.

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

If you do decide to go out to Belleau Wood (Bois de Belleau), that is easily done from Chateau-Thierry / Marne which was the scene of dogged fighting in the last German push on Paris , the Marines having been injected to stop them, the Marines' operation in Belleau Wood was one of those sites.

In Chateau-Thierry you'll see the American Church and the memorial to the US 3rd Inf. Div.

This past trip I went back to Chateau-Thierry, the first time since having visited the town in 1997. Then, I had two main reasons for going there: see the Anglo-French cemetery from WW1 and seeing where the Marne flows through and the bridges.

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

If you are in Arras, I know of 3 sites dealing with WW2.

Two are military sites,.... one plaque on the Welsh Guards as the last British unit to pull out of the city in 1940 before heading to Dunkirk , and the first British unit to enter to liberate the city in 1944.

The 2nd military site deals with the surprise British armour counter-stroke in May 1940.

The 3rd site is grim and poignant, it's an execution site where French resistance members were shot, called "Mur des Fusillés" (locals told me of this), located not very far from the British WW1 Military Cemetery.