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Travel Thursday: France, Belgium, and The Netherlands

Nov 30, 2023 12:45PM ● By Bre Pizzolato

Destination: France, Belgium, The Netherlands

Dates: November 15 - 24

Travelers: Ryan (Owner of Framework Home Inspection) and Brandie (Teacher at ZCSD) McNabb; and daughters: Ainslie and Anniston. 

 

 Choosing the Destination 

For Ryan, the mastermind behind the trip, France held a special place in his heart, having visited the country twice before. However, this time was different – it was a family affair. 

“I've been to France twice before, and Belgium once, but never with my wife and daughters. So, I really wanted to bring them as a bucket list trip. Ainslie is a senior this year, so we called it her senior trip!”

Since Ryan had been there previously, he already knew exactly where I wanted to take them. The journey started in Paris, where the family landed and immediately embarked on a road trip. The first stop was Bruges in Belgium, a 3.5-hour drive from Paris. A one-night stay allowed them to soak in the medieval charm of Bruges. 

The next day, they made the 30-minute drive to The Netherlands. The road then led them 5 hours North to the French coast in the Normandy region, where a two-night stay in an old farmhouse awaited, followed by a night on the iconic Mont St. Michel. The adventure concluded with a four-night stay in Paris.


 

Longues Mer France Old German Gun Battery and Look Out site.

Exceeding Expectations

Unexpected detours often lead to the most delightful discoveries. The McNabb family experienced this firsthand when they made a spontaneous decision to drive 30 minutes to The Netherlands, ending up in the quaint town of Sluis

“When we saw how close we were to The Netherlands, we literally just selected the closest town on the border and started the GPS. Sluis was ‘postcard’ perfect! We walked around, shopped, got some pastries, cappuccino, and then browsed the local ‘Jumbo’ grocery store. It was an unexpected side trip that turned out to be a highlight.”

Ryan also highly recommends visiting the Bayeux Tapestry. This historical masterpiece, depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, left a lasting impression and added an unexpected layer to their exploration of Normandy.


Words of Wisdom 

 

Reflecting on their journey, Ryan expressed no regrets about their jam-packed itinerary, emphasizing the joy derived from every minute of their European adventure. Driving in Europe was surprisingly easy, dispelling any apprehensions about navigating foreign roads.

“Don't be afraid to drive in Europe. It's super easy.”

For those planning a visit to Paris, Ryan recommended a minimum of four days to truly savor the iconic sights without feeling rushed. He also recommends getting around Paris via the subway system for its ease of use, safety, and cleanliness. 

 

Mont St. Michel is at the top of Ryan’s must-see list. He urges everyone to experience this marvel at least once in their lifetime. 

History buffs, in particular, will love exploring the treasures of Normandy, while Belgium, often underrated, stands out as one of Ryan's favorite destinations.


Destination Vibes: Perfect for All Occasions

France and Belgium, as experienced by the McNabb family, proved to be the epitome of versatility. Whether you're traveling with family, seeking a romantic getaway, or indulging your inner history buff, these European gems cover all the bases. 

“France and Belgium are perfect for a family, history buffs, and a romantic getaway, it truly covers all the bases.”

If you have an amazing trip that you would like to share, email: editor@porchandparish.