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Need help planning a driving route France to Amsterdam

Need help planning a driving route France to Amsterdam

Old May 23rd, 2022, 06:56 AM
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Need help planning a driving route France to Amsterdam

Hi all:

We are in the very early stages of planning a driving trip for late October to early November. We will probably have 5-7 days to drive from Avignon to the AMS area, but could lengthen or shorten the time as needed. Right now we are thinking of spending 1-2 nights in Lyon and 1-2 nights in Dijon (we have been to both places but not for 5 years plus) and then after that I am not sure of other stops or overnight stays. We will probably take the route that takes us through Luxembourg. We won't detour to Strasbourg as we have been there fairly recently. And give that it will be November, we probably don't want routes that go through mountainous areas that could have snow.

After Luxembourg, it looks like route choices (or slight detours) could take us through or to Liege, AAchen, Eindhoven, Breda, Rotterdam, and Utrecht as choices. Are their cities or towns or villages that we should focus on visiting or planning as an overnight stop?. I know so little about this area I thought I would ask some of you who live or have visited that part of the world.

Thanks for ideas and input-it is always extremely valuable!
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 07:11 AM
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'Maastricht isn't on your list. You may enjoy it. It's about 2 hours from Luxembourg city.
You can also visit Margraten US cemetery from there or on your way there.
It is about 2 hours from Maastricht to Utrecht, about 45 minutes more to Haarlem.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 07:22 AM
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The A31 autoroute (or the corresponding normal highways) should take you from Dijon to both Nancy and Metz, both of which are very worth visiting. (It is completely free starting in Toul.) Basically it is the north-south backbone of Lorraine and continues on to Luxembourg. In Luxembourg, I like going over to Remich and driving on the road along the Moselle.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 07:50 AM
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Moselle is not so nice in November, and can flood. Also a roundabout way of getting into the Netherlands.
Some roads direction NL from the Moselle are also still closed after the disastrous flooding last year.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 08:36 AM
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Instead of Liege, Namur has a really pleasant, doable city center, as does Leuven. Mechelen is also pretty in the center, with great beer at the Het Anker tasting room, where Gouden Carolus is made. Antwerp might be a bit big and bustling on a driving tour, but Breda is very nice. If you are following a course further east then Baarle-Hartog is the city that is carved up like a jigsaw between Netherlands and Belgium, which is kind of fun. Further north you can see Kinderdijk, the large collection of windmills. You can park the car and take a ferry from Ridderkerk to Kinderdijk (and rent bicycles there to cruise past the windmills), and after that continue by ferry to Dordrecht for an afternoon, another really pleasant town.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 09:03 AM
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Thank you both for the suggestions. I had meant to add both Nancy and Metz to the list. I have been to both but MANY years ago and I don't think my DH has visited either. And I will add Maastricht to the list of places as we plan our route-it looks charming. We can keep our eye on the rain conditions around the Moselle area and see what we think about that.

Also, it looks like Aachen is a spa city which seems like could maybe be nice in the late fall And it is only 40 minutes from Maastricht so maybe we could stop for lunch and a soak in Germany before spending the night in Maastricht?

If we did go to Aachen that it looks like we would skip Liege. I don't have strong memories of Liege. I stayed overnight there many years ago on a drive back to France from Berlin, but don't think I thought it was super memorable....although to be fair I got in pretty late and didn't have much time there.

When you use google to plot from Luxembourg City to Aachen they offer three routes that are almost identical in time and distance:

The E25 that is the most easterly route through Belgium near Bastogne and then connects to the second route choice which is taking the E42 though Clervaux Luxembourg. That second route eventually connects over to the third route choice which is the most western route that leave Luxembourg City and heads right into Germany on the 60 via Echternach and via Bitburg and St. Vith.

Here's a screenshot of the choices:


Three route choices from Luxembourg City to Aachen

Any thoughts about those choices?
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 10:22 AM
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The road north of Bitburg, up to the 60 is still closed after last years flooding I believe. Of the three routes you show I would choose the highlighted one.
Fill up in Luxembourg. It is the cheapest country for fuel!

Liege is pretty forgettable imho.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 10:48 AM
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Okay, thanks for the info on the routes! And I am glad it's not just me that didn't have strong memories of Liege
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 02:01 PM
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There is a big petrol station (or stations) at Wasserbillig in Luxembourg, right before the German border. We usually get fuel there, but it's probably out of your way if you are not going via the Moselle. I am always amused by the name which means 'cheap water'. I am guessing -billig means something else in Lëtzeburgesch because there are a few place names ending with it.

I do have some memories of Liège - it's a little gritty, I never paid it much attention because of first appearances. It does however have a special train station designed by the architect Calatrava (Liège Guillemins I think).

Lavandula

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Old May 24th, 2022, 06:58 AM
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Thanks I will look up the train station-we do like interesting architecture. Gritty was the first word I chose when I talked to my husband about my few memories about the city, so I guess we are in synch there

In terms of petrol, the car we are leasing this year is a plug-in hybrid, so I am hoping that will help us out on prices a bit. Supposedly we can sign up for a card that allows us to use electric charging stations across countries. So I need to read more about that. I know we will be using petrol on the trip-not full electric. But at least that will be a help.
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Old May 24th, 2022, 07:58 AM
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More public charging stations in the Netherlands than anywhere in Europe. I assume they also work for plug-in hybrids. I know they tend to have a quite limited full electric range.
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Old May 25th, 2022, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by hetismij2 View Post
More public charging stations in the Netherlands than anywhere in Europe. I assume they also work for plug-in hybrids. I know they tend to have a quite limited full electric range.
Yes I do realize that the "all electric" range is low. Luckily I will have a month or so at our place in France to test out driving in all electric mode and figure out what works. I have read and watched car review videos that say that the best way to use an hybrid plug in car is to turn it on to all electric mode when you are just going to do errands nearby and then turn it back to the "variable mode" (let the car decide when to switch between petrol and electric) when you are on longer drives or need faster acceleration going on to dual carriageways for example.

I also read a statistic that 80% of owners of plug in hybrids never switch it to all electric-thereby losing some of the petrol-saving benefit of the car. So I am hoping to optimize the all electric feature of the car when I can. And I hope that the card that that Peugeot Open Europe supposedly is going to supply us with actually works. In theory, you can open an account and use the app to use charging stations in all countries in Europe-or least the ones we will be in. But I am not really planning our driving based around being able to recharge easily except at our own place in France. That said, I am super impressed by the number of listings in the Netherlands that list charging station nearby! So it doesn't surprise me that they have the highest number of public charging stations!
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Old May 25th, 2022, 07:09 AM
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My brother has a plug-in hybrid and loves it, using it on electric only locally, and as a hybrid when he goes up to the Lake District to his daughters, or to Wales to his lady.
We are debating switching cars at the moment, may or may not happen this year, but because we need to be able to carry bikes, and preferably to tow, since we have a small trailer - useful for amongst other things collecting heavy sails for DS1's ship, a plug in hybrid is a consideration, though we may lease a full electric with towing ability. We were looking out for charging stations when in France, without an app then, and saw a few, but along the motorways they seemed few and far between.

I shall enjoy reading any trip report you make, it sounds a lovely trip.
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Old May 25th, 2022, 07:33 AM
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Luxembourg used to be a paradise for cheap petrol, as the number of the stations near any border point with Belgium, France or Germany can attest. You no longer save nearly as much as in the past, but you will still save money by filling your tank in Luxembourg. But if you miss the last station, it is no longer a tragedy.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2022, 08:00 AM
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Thanks kerouac for the heads up on the gas. We have a friend in Luxembourg, so we will probably be stopping there for at least a lunch or a coffee so I will check petrol prices when I get closer.

So here is where we are so far on the trip planning and I would love some more input:

We will stay in Nimes for 5 nights mostly to explore the area around and back towards Narbonne, then after that we have 11 days to allocate before we go to our rental near Schipol for 4 nights before we catch our flight. So I am trying to figure out where to spend that time. It will be the checking in on November 1st and checking out on November 12th when we check into our rental near Schipol. We want to see a few things down near the Avignon/Aix-en-Provence area (like visiting the Chateau La Coste art walk for instance) So I thinking maybe we spend 3-4 nights somewhere near Aix or Avignon. Since we will have a car I think I would prefer to not stay in a city itself. We have visited both places before so we do need to visit them to see the in-city sites. We would prefer to stay in either a smaller town or village since it nice to be able to walk a bit for food shopping or to eat dinner but we are open to staying more in the country. Any ideas of places we should stay in that area? We have spent time in St Remy which to be honest isn't my favorite. But to be fair we were there in summer when it was packed with visitors.

If we spend 3-4 nights in the Aix area then that leaves us 7-8 nights between Aix and Schipol area. Any thought of where to spend those or how many nights to allocate? We would like to have a great lunch somewhere on the outskirts of Lyon but don't want to venture into the city. So if anybody has great suggestions there I would be very interested. But I can troll around foodie sites for that kind of info.

We could spend a night around Lyon or not. Otherwise, places that are on our radar as possible places to spend a few nights and use as bases to explore might be Dijon or Nancy (the new gastronomic center in Dijon could be interested to visit) in France and maybe in the Netherlands we could stay near Maastricht? Maybe we should head further west and explore more of Belgium and take a more westerly route after that? Or do you guys think the eastern part of Netherlands heading more straight north towards the Arhnem area before headed west might be more interesting? In theory we could explore the area down towards Rotterdam when we stay in the Schipol area since it literally is only 30-40 minutes away.

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Old Jul 8th, 2022, 02:43 AM
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Or do you guys think the eastern part of Netherlands heading more straight north towards the Arhnem area before headed west might be more interesting? In theory we could explore the area down towards Rotterdam when we stay in the Schipol area since it literally is only 30-40 minutes away.

Schiphol - Rotterdam is 20 minutes by Intercity Direct, driving is about 40 minutes and then you have parking to contend with: at a premium, in Rotterdam.

Driving up through the south and east of the Netherlands via Maastricht along the river Meuse gets you the beautiful national park De Maasduinen and you can visit Overloon (Operation Market Garden) and Nijmegen before ending up in Arnhem. Both are charming cities. Further north you can visit the string of Hanseatic cities along the IJssel river, all the way to Zwolle via Deventer and Zutphen.
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Old Jul 9th, 2022, 06:19 AM
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Thanks menachem! I was thinking that south and east did look more promising as a route. Once we are at our final rental south of Schipol, we are planning on using public transport as much as we can-certainly to go into any of the cities. Having driven in large cities in Europe for 30+ years, it is impossible to recognize how much countries are trying to limit car traffic into cities (which IMO is a the right approach.) I have been very impressed by the really great system of park and ride lots, so one of first stops will be to get a card to be able to use those lots easily while we are there.
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Old Jul 9th, 2022, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by jpie View Post
Thanks menachem! I was thinking that south and east did look more promising as a route. Once we are at our final rental south of Schipol, we are planning on using public transport as much as we can-certainly to go into any of the cities. Having driven in large cities in Europe for 30+ years, it is impossible to recognize how much countries are trying to limit car traffic into cities (which IMO is a the right approach.) I have been very impressed by the really great system of park and ride lots, so one of first stops will be to get a card to be able to use those lots easily while we are there.
Nijmegen is gorgeous. Just saying.
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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 07:46 AM
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thanks-adding your comments to my driving notes
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Old Jul 10th, 2022, 08:11 AM
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Nancy is worth a stop:


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