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Amsterdam/Paris/Marseille with side trips to Normandy/Lori

Hi I will be traveling to Europe for the third time and need advice on which would be most cost effective. We my 69 year old mom and a friend will be arriving by plane on September 3,2019 to Amsterdam where we will stay for three days and I was thinking of purchasing the IAmsterdam Card. As we want to see Rotterdam and the windmills etc and all that Holland has to offer. Next is Paris and Marseille from September 6-17.

Arriving in Paris via train from Amsterdam
Purchasing the Paris pass with transportation.

We would like to take a tour of Normandy as well as one of the Loir. Also want to see Marseille. Debating on renting a car or purchasing a French Rail pass is the best economical option. Any help suggestions would be truly helpful as I want this to be a wonderful experience for my mom she has never left the USA. Thanks Danielle Cherie

Posted by
1767 posts

hey danielle
are you traveling from the USA which will be an overnight flight and arrive jetlagged on the 3rd? watch the time of arrival and if you can get an early check in if arrival is before 2-3pm, if not waiting with luggage and your travelers. don't plan a whole lot that day, walking around getting acclimated to time difference. take a train the next morning to rotterdam for a day trip, next day a tour or such to windmills and some time around amsterdam, back to hotel to pack up for train to paris. that's not a lot of time there but it's your vacation. any mobility issues means extra time. pack light, carry luggage or push over uneven streets, carry up steep stairs, (not many elevators/lifts), trains. check if worth buying amsterdam card if you're not there long enough. rail pass may not be worth it, look at or or compare prices, check times and book early for discount. buy a multi-city (fly to one city depart from another city) no backtracking. amsterdam is expensive so book hotel/apartment early. check or, read fine print, steep stairs or steps, share kitchen/bathroom. lots to think about and research, any help you need just ask away. want mom to have a great and wonderful time, don't rush.

Posted by
7050 posts

Have you bought the plane tickets yet and if so are you flying into Amsterdam and out of Paris?

Logistically and realistically you might trying to do to much. You might cut Marseille it is in the opposite direction of Normandy and the Loir. I took my 70 year uncle on a trip similar and his doctor afterwards told him he took the trip of a 48 year old because he got dehydrated big time and I felt fine.

You probably should buy point to point train tickets instead of a rail pass which does not necessarily save you money or make train travel easier. You save a lot when you buy train tickets 90 days in advance.

Sort out the ports you are flying into and out of and tell the forum; that will make it easier for others to give you advice on how to go where you want to go.

Posted by
5221 posts

In three days (two full days after your arrival day) you won't see "all that Holland has to offer," or even all that Amsterdam has to offer. I suggest focusing this time just on Amsterdam.

The Thalys train service between Amsterdam and Paris is fast and easy, not expensive if you buy tickets well in advance.

You'll have to decide how much time to spend in Paris, Normandy, the Loire, and/or Marseilles. With ten full days (not counting arrival and departure days) I'd suggest paring down this list. Marseilles is the obvious outlier but if you really want to go there, then fly home from there (via Paris if necessary) to save time and money vs. backtracking in Europe.

There are guided day tours from Paris of the Normandy and of the Loire, Google can help you find them, but they will be very long days and brief stops at particular sights. I'd suggest driving yourselves in these areas, or one of them, for at least two or three full days. That may not leave you enough time to see and do all you want to in Paris. The Paris Pass is seldom a good value, but the Paris Museum Pass can be if you use it efficiently. A rail pass is unlikely to be a better value than paying fares to specific places you want to go to by train -- between Paris and Marseilles, Paris and Normandy (Caen?) or Paris and the Loire (Tours?).

Get a good guidebook and map from the library, sit down with them and work on some day-by-day plans based on what you want to see and how long you can spend in each city or area. Hope that is some help.

EDIT: I see your post is under "Money Saving Strategies." You may want to re-post under "General Europe" or under the countries you want to visit. You may get more replies, and more useful ones, that way.

Posted by
4125 posts

If cost is a factor, the "Paris pass plus transportation" is a poor value.

You will be better off buying a museum pass plus one or more carnets (10-ticket packets) of metro tickets.

If you will be staying in Paris for a week or more, another good transit option is the Navigo pass, a weekly metro pass that lasts from Monday to Sunday (so, not a great choice if you are leaving town on Tuesday! and also not helpful for Fri-Sun in your case).

A car is pretty useful for exploring Normandy, though many are satisfied by taking a train to Bayeux, staying 2 or 3 nights, and taking a guided tour of the Normandy beaches. I'd arrange to hire the car there rather in Paris.

You should compare costs, but the rail pass is not the deal it once was. Point-to-point rail tickets are pretty reasonable, often with good discounts if you buy in advance. Still if you will be traveling by rail to and from Normandy and to and from Marseilles, it might work out.

There is a wealth of information here:

Posted by
3 posts

Hello I thank all of you for all your help and advice. Mom decided she now does not want to go to Amsterdam but would rather see Paris and the South of France instead. So we most likely will arrive and stay in Paris for a few days and rent a car and drive down to Marseille making a stops along the way and enjoying the scenery and towns living like locals as I have done on my last two trips to France Germany and Italy. I have never been to the south of France and Provence region yet. So this will be moms first time overseas I want it to be special for her as well as fun.