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France and possibly Belgium intinerary advice needed

Well, I’m starting to plan a 25th anniversary trip. I’d like to perhaps go to Alsace, Paris, and Bruges. We got cheap business class ticket to Madrid, so that’s the start for 2 nights. Flight home can be from Paris or Brussels.

I can catch an Iberia Madrid to Strasbourg flight. So maybe
Madrid 2 nights ( fly to Strasbourg)
Strasbourg 3 nights
Train to Paris 3 nights
train to Bruges 3 nights
Brussels 1 night before flying home.


Forget the Belgium leg and instead add other France stops after Alsace, ending in Paris for 4 nights. But I need inspiration on where to go. We’ve been to Normandy and Nice in the past, but I’m no France expert. I’d prefer not to rent a car and only take trains.

Any help appreciated!

Posted by
396 posts

What month? and what do you like to do/see? An Anniversary trip screams "France's most beautiful villages" tour. There is a map you can buy which will show you where they are located. With only 11 nights to spend I would cut distances/time travled down to as little as possiable. Have you been to Spain before? Without knowing all the particulars I would say split the time between Madrid and Paris, with a day trip or two from each. J

Posted by
3062 posts

You can take a direct train from Madrid’s Atocha station to Avignon TGV (7h 30m). Good day trip options from Avignon are:
Pont du Gard (bus 1h)
Nimes (train 45m)
Uzès (bus 1h)
Orange (train 30m)
Côtes du Rhône wine road (you may need to take a tour or rent a car for the day).
You can take a direct train from Avignon TGV to Paris (2h 45m).

Posted by
68 posts

We’ve been to Spain, yes. And Paris several times. End of April, beginning of May is the timeframe. The trip is 12 nights, or including the flight day.

Avignon is an idea, thanks.

Posted by
7569 posts

It seems like you have plenty of travel experience, but I would not take so many long rides in 12 days. Depending on whether your objective is beautiful small villages (that was a reply, not your statement) or specific cities, I would try for more efficient ground travel.

Most people who mention Bruges have it as non-negotiable. It is a time-consuming "spur" trip, but it is very romantic. There are equally romantic towns in France. I value Antwerp much higher than Brussels. I wouldn't start in Spain but you have the air ticket. How about: Strasbourg-Cologne-Antwerp-(daytrip to Bruges, daytrip to Gent, Brussels art museums if desired)-Paris direct from Antwerp or fly home from BRU. There are also the scenic Middle Rhine (home from FRA) or Amsterdam if you haven't been there.

Posted by
68 posts

I think I’m leaning towards dropping Alsace and heading to Belgium after Madrid. Then train to Paris for four nights, home from there. I like what I’ve researched so far on art museums in Belgium. We are overall more interested in art than wine and wine villages. We have been to Amsterdam before, yes. Great museums.

So with that in mind, where to sleep in Belgium to do day trips from? I see Tim favors Antwerp, but has anyone else done this sort of trip?

The new plan would have:
Madrid 2 nights
Belgium 6 nights (Where to sleep?)
Paris 4 nights