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14 days of travel (including fly in & out) - itinerary help Northern France, Germany and Belgium

Trying to figure out an itinerary.

I’ve got 14 days total for travel – including the flying in & out. We have decided on France, Germany and maybe Belgium. My hubby wants to see D-Day stuff in Normandy. We will fly into Paris and spend 2 days in Paris. My hubby has no desire to see any of the museums in Paris. He is not an art/sculpture guy. I’ve already been to Paris, so I won’t miss it. I was thinking 3 days in Normandy. (Is that enough?) Also, we plan on taking the train from Paris into Brussels for a day or two. And am wondering about taking a train from Paris into Germany. Looking at the Rick Steves Time & Cost map – Koln is a 3 hour ride from Paris, with Berlin another 5 hours. Are we better off going to Koln and then Berlin or going to Frankfurt? OH – we will be traveling with a small dog.

We will either go in March, May or October. I like the prices of the flights in March though but wonder if the weather would cooperate with us. If it’s just cold –like 40 or 50 degrees, that’s no biggy.

Thanks

Posted by
4125 posts

Just a few thought, since I don't think I can address your whole itinerary.

Bundle up really well for Normandy in March. Expect rain.

Three days is a good number for Normandy with a focus on D-Day.

Try to design an efficient itinerary. Going back and forth to Paris will eat up what little time you have. Fly open jaw.

Decide where you really want to go this trip and drop the other places because you really do not have enough time to do it all. If a city only rates 1 day then skip it all together.

If you can possibly see your way to having a second trip someday, plan to do the eastern half of your itinerary in one trip and the western half in another (you decide which one).

Posted by
2081 posts

I will echo what Adam said about your plan. Look at traveling in some path and try not to cris-cross your path alot.

If you know where you are going, you can use google maps and plot out the areas and start jotting down where you want to go and see if any path pops out. As far as Normandy is concerned, you may have to either leave to Brussels/Germany from there or head back to Paris. Others may have a better idea if its better to depart france from paris.

A comment about hubbys interest in DD stuff and not artsy. The Army Museum/Napoleons Tomb is in my opinion a nice museum for military stuff. Napoleons tomb is also there. quite impressive too.

Normandy. You dont say if youre going to drive in Normandy or ? You can see alot in a guided tour, but not everything. Chances are it will be mostly the USA sector unless you choose a different tour. I have no idea on the other sectors, yet, but im sure others will chime in about duration.

There are some good museums up there too. One in Bayeux and one in Caen. There are others, but i didnt see them and again, others will chime in about them. IF you go to Bayeux, i would try to see the Bayeux Tapestry. It is really impressive.

ALso, think about the moving around. you loose valuable doing time. You can see alot go by, but not be doing something.

Brussels is nice, but unless you are going to see some museums, i would head to Bastogne or some other WW2 related place. From what some people told me in Bastogne, there is suppose to be a really nice military museum at the Grand Place. I havent looked into it, yet.

I was in Cologne this Sept and i loved the place. But why do you want to go?

If you and hubby have interests it maybe helpful to list or state so that others maybe able to filter out where to go or not. As i see your plan, you are just planning on going to citys but i cant see any reason for them. Are they WWII interests?

happy trails.

Posted by
62 posts

Well, the hubby has never been to Europe. We were talking to a friend who was telling him about all these cities that are accessible by train. He wants to basically see the D-Day stuff in Normandy and then eat and drink his way through the trip. I'm totally ok with that. We love to just sit in cafes here at home and people watch.

Maybe we should wait till the Fall? Just thinking if it will rain alot - our dog will not be very happy wandering around in the rain.

Posted by
2081 posts

Travelgirl,

The WWII happened all around those areas and it would just be a matter if your hubby wants to see more than just Normandy. But if thats all hes interested in, then i would try to spend more time on what YOU want do outside of Normandy.

Drinking/eating. You can do that anywhere and everywhere.

If all you want to do is to chill, eat/drink and people watch, then youre off to a good start. Its the details that will get you and will need some help on.

happy trails.

Posted by
1797 posts

I love dogs, people in France seem to love dogs but I gotta ask, why the dog?

Posted by
808 posts

We were at Omaha Beach on Valentines Day one year and the weather was wonderful - so you never know. We drove from Paris. WWII sites we also enjoyed were Nuremberg and Berchtesgaden. Brussels - meh. In Belgium I loved Ghent - great city for atmosphere, art and beer to hangs for a few days.

Posted by
6570 posts

I would be embarrassed to take my beautiful AKC Rottweiler to Germany. Compared to German dogs, my Rot is a bad behaved, spoiled little boy. We always send our dog to a good kennel while we're away, and he doesn't suffer.

Your itinerary may be a little aggressive for the time allowed. Remember that the days of arrival and departure are wasted days. And every day spent on a train moving to another location is not productive.

I try to travel somewhat in a straight line for efficiency. Normandy is northwest of Paris and out of the way if you're going east. You might can check for day tours out of Paris to the Normandy region. Then you could head toward Koln and the east. Belgium is northeast, and it's also somewhat out of the way if you're wanting to see Koln and Berlin. I have no desire to spend time in modern cities like Frankfurt, but the airport's great.

The airfares go up about $200 on March 28, 2014 when the Spring airfares kick in. Spring weather varies--sometimes good and sometimes bad. We usually start somewhere south the last of March and travel to the north. The airfares for the rest of 2014 are up in the air, but they are expected to remain very expensive through the Summer and Fall.

Posted by
511 posts

We spent three full days in Normandy in late March 2013. Wore our winter coats and needed them as it was cold and windy. Spent two days on a guided tour of the American sectors (with Dale Booth, excellent) and one day seeing the tapestry and exploring Bayeux. Stayed in Bayeux and trained to/from Paris. It seemed the right amount of time to us. Husband and sons love military history and want to cover Sword and Gold beaches next time. Also we saw the museum at Utah beach, but didn't have time for the others which I hear are excellent.

That's a long-winded way of saying that some people could spend a week in Normandy and others only need a day. I suggest you read up on what there is to see and do in all the places you're considering and make a plan that sounds good to you both. As Rick often says in his guidebooks, plan as if you'll be back. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to see and do it all.

Posted by
1437 posts

Double and triple-check the rules regarding taking your pooch aboard the plane - the regs seem to vary quite a bit from airline to airline. Also check again a few days before you are due to leave, as the rules seem to keep changing and become enforced as soon as they change. You can thank lawsuits, passengers rights (allergies), and unfortunate incidents for this state of flux. The very last thing you want to do is to be forced to make an impossible choice at the check-in counter... Good luck to you and pooch.

Posted by
62 posts

Marty - I tend to get "ADD" over historical sites. I want to see it, but after a couple of hours, I tend to wonder what's for dinner. LOL. I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time.

Posted by
658 posts

I know you said no art/sculpture museums while you're in Paris, but you may want to consider visiting the Army Museum. It has a lot of great exhibits and information on WWI and WW2. We spent about 2 hours there and only got through the WW1 section! This might be a good prelude to visiting Normandy. http://www.musee-armee.fr/en/english-version.html

Posted by
102 posts

There are more than just the airline regulations to take into consideration. All dogs have to be chipped with a ISO 11784 transponder, they have to have a rabies vaccination within a year but no less than four weeks from traveling, your vet will have to fill out a long European veterinarian form (search: Annex II Veterinary Certificate), and you will need to get that document certified by your state's USDA APHIS office. On top of that the airline might require you to have a travel certificate for your dog and there are certain crate/bag requirements. Additionally, once in Europe, different countries have different regulations. Animals crossing borders here travel with an EU pet passport to stay in compliance with local law.

That said, Europe is a very dog friendly place. With the exception of museums and some food stores, dogs can and do go pretty much anywhere. In Munich you are even allowed to bring your dog to the zoo.