My daughter and I will be spending a few days in Brussels and Paris in late July. We are debating whether to spend 2 or 3 nights in Brussels and 5 or 6 nights in Paris. We'd like to make a day trip to Bruges from Brussels and one or two day trips from Paris. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Do things tend shut down on Sundays? I understand that a lot is closed down in Paris on Mondays? Thanks!
I would say that Mont St. Michel makes a fine day-trip from Paris, but at the time of your visit, its narrow street and ramparts will likely be packed shoulder to shoulder with tourists. If you enjoy touring Gothic cathedrals, you could make a trip to Chartres. There is also Versailles, Fontainebleau, the rest of Normandy and, if you must, Disneyland Paris.
If you have never been to Paris max your time there (more nights) as Brussels and Bruge are second-tier cities (as far as sights, etc...) I am going to both for the first time this summer... (2 nights Bruge, maybe 1 night Brussels...) According to Rick's Guides, Brussels can be seen in a matter of hours. You are probably better off spending the two nights in Bruge with a day trip to Brussels. Bruge is listed as a 1 full day/2 night experience in the Guide. I am considering just spending an afternoon in Brussels.
I agree...if you don't have to spend 2 or 3 nights in Brussels, don't...it's not worth it. As an earlier poster suggested, Bruges is worth 1 or 1 1/2 days, and Paris will soak up time much better than Brussels, which can be seen in less than a day. If you are in Brussels for any length of time, try visiting Amsterdam for a day. You can arrive by train from Brussels as early as 930 am and leave as late as 830 pm....11 hours to visit. The train journey itself takes about 2:45. And don't pay the extra money for a Thalys train trip...it saves about 5 minutes over the IC trains of the Belgian or Dutch railways.
Tom, I will be in Paris the first week of June this year and we were looking into doing a day trip to Mt. St. Michel. We are not renting a car and are relying on mostly train travel. When you say that this is a good day trip, what is the best way to get there without a car? We would really lake to take this site in, but thought that it would be too far away. Thanks.
Brussels can be done in about 1 day (anything over a day or two, and the city gets rather stale, I've found). And though I've never been, many people I've talked to speak more fondly of Bruges and Antwerp than Brussels. In any case, maximize your days in Paris. Paris itself requires a good 4 or more days to visit, but as posters above have mentioned, you'll want to make day trips to Versailles, perhaps Chartres, etc.
SUNDAYS: for shopping, department stores are closed for sure (Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps), as well as most small boutiques. Though there will always be something open on the Champs-Elysée and in the Marais area. Also, some museums will offer discount fees on Sunday. MONDAYS: small shops will be closed again on Monday, and a good number of museums are closed as well (museums generally close on Monday or Tuesday). The big sites like Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Sacré Coeur are open every day.
We were in Brussels last year and I agree one night is plenty.Brugge is much better.In Brussels if you arrive on a fri,sat or sunday you can get a hotel thru the TI for a great rate.We stayed at Hotel Congress for 50E(reg.rate 150e)Brussels as Rick says in high on Ambience and low on sights.I agree.best regards jack