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First time to Europe

I’m a solo, active, off-the-beaten-path, first time Europe traveler looking to experience the nature and culture of Europe!

My work is sending me to Elspeet, Netherlands to run a retreat for a week September 6-11th. From Elspeet my current plan is to start my exploring on September 12th and head to Amsterdam for two days, take the train to Paris for two days and then fly from Paris to Nice on RyanAir for 2 1/2 days before flying out at 6 am Saturday morning September 19th back to Minnesota.


Also I am a jewelry designer and I am hoping to find some vintage/old jewelry and beads at markets my new designs.

This is the priority of my trip!

Anything like this in the Netherlands? Paris? Nice? In between? What's your advice?? Where should I go for local markets and antiques? Are there any good bead stores, shops craft places in these locations? Are here better countries for this?

I am planning on flying out of Nice only because I want to enjoy at least one day doing mostly nothing but relaxing and designing on the beach and Nice seems to be the closest to Paris. Thoughts here?

Any thing helps!! Thank you for your time!

Posted by
14925 posts

I'd just point out that 2 nights equals one full day of exploration. You'll use up at least 1/2 day each time you move, with packing/unpacking, traveling to/from the station to/from the hotel, and a little time to get oriented to the new surroundings. You only have 7 nights. Even if you leave Elspeet first thing in the morning, you won't have a full day in Amsterdam on the 12th.

RyanAir flies out of Paris from Beauvais airport. It is some way out of the city and will add to your travel time. Bear in mind that a 1.5 hour flight easily takes 5-6 hours door-to-door. Besides getting to/from the airport, you have to allow enough time to check in (and check your luggage - those short flights have lower allowances than the longhauls) and then collect your bag at the other end.

Posted by
5262 posts

The TGV train takes about 5 1/2 hours from Paris (Gare de Lyon) to Nice, plus you get to see the countryside flying past your window. Might be worth checking out.

Paris' biggest flea markets (puces) are probably St-Ouen, Vanves, and Montreuil. You'll get more info on these with a question on the France board.

I agree with Chani about your timetable. Not a bad plan for a fast first visit, but you'll be rushing a lot. Hopefully you'll want to return for maybe four full days in Amsterdam, a week or more in Paris, and a more leisurely trip in southern France. Plus other great destinations. Have fun!

Posted by
31471 posts

I agree with Chani about not using RyanAir if possible, as Beauvais is a long way out of Paris. That will add both time and cost to that supposedly cheap ticket. You could also consider using easyJet out of Orly. You could also take the TGV high speed train from Paris to Nice, as it will take about the same time, when all is considered (checking-in, security, boarding and de-planing, etc.). For travel in September, you may still be able to get some discounted tickets. Those trains have compulsory reservations that are specific to train, date and departure time, so you can't just buy a ticket and show up at the station and board any train.

Other than that, your travel plans look good. You might want to pack along a copy of the Pocket Paris guidebook as that will help you work out efficient touring. If you have a Library close, you could also have a look at the Holland & Belgium and southern France books.

Posted by
18 posts

So many markets and shops in Amsterdam it is impossible to choose! There are some lists that say it perfectly, all the places I like to shop, where I think maybe you can find some treasure:

I am sure I spend too much money at the Waterlooplein market.

This is also a fun market in a different part of the city and perhaps it will work out with your dates in the city:

It is fun to go to this market because you travel on the free ferry behind the station and get a nice city view.

I also found a blog with a good list of craft stores, better than I could put together myself even:

Paradise for antiques can be found here:

Here is a description in English:

This market is nice but may not be worth running to with such a short time, but I mention it because in the area are a few secondhand clothing shops that often have interesting accessories or items that can be re-used to make jewelry pieces. I have found some from time to time myself:

If you walk on the streets surrounding the market you will also find many fabric shops with some beautiful materials and sometimes beaded trims and things. I sometimes find really lovely things in these places.

Of course you can also find secondhand shops and interesting items in the center or on Haarlemmerstraat too.

Have a nice time!

Posted by
2 posts

Wow!! You guys rock. Thank you so very much for your advice and your time :) I have changed my flight so I fly out of Paris at 11 am on Saturday. This means my days between September 12th and the 19th are open and I can change my plans as I go. Yay!!

Another question, I plan to hop on the sprinter train to head to Paris from amsterdam.

Is there any tips or tricks you guys have in regards to buying tickets and riding the train? Is it safe? Can I buy tickets last minute? Do i have to buy online or can I get tickets at the train station?

Thanks a million!!

Posted by
12898 posts


It depends. Beauvais is a town ca. halfway between Paris and Amiens, nice town to visit, (no tourists to be seen ), has some historical WW 2 sites too. I did a day trip there in 2012, takes an hour by regional train from Beauvais to Paris Nord station.

Posted by
14925 posts

I never heard of Sprinter trains, so I looked for info online. From what I see on the German site, the only trains to Paris are Thalys high-speed (TGV) trains. The Sprinter only shows up going to Brussels from Amsterdam. The TGV tickets (Brussels-Paris) right now are €99 for tomorrow, but as low as €40 (really early in the morning) or €51 for Sept. 14-15. There are frequent trains from Brussels to Paris, so if the next one happens to be sold out, you can probably get a ticket for a later one the same day.

BTW You can buy an Amsterdam-Paris ticket today for Sept. 14-15 for €67. It looks like the Sprinter will add about an hour to your travel time and cost you a lot of money, because you will have to pay full price for the TGV ticket. You will also have to change trains in Brussels if you take the Sprinter. The TGV stops there, but you (and your luggage) stay on the train.