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Paris to Cologne via Luxemberg

Travel Forums Europe Paris to Cologne via Luxemberg

1. Posted by kerriemel (Budding Member 3 posts) 7y

Hello

I finally got the courage to book a trip for myself and my three teenage children to travel overseas. I am a single mum that has no sense of direction so I am starting to feel a little daunted.
I have a garmin Sat nav, and I downloaded all the europe maps so I think that I will be ok...but...our budget is tight and I have just been reading about all the expensive toll roads out of france.
We are flying into Paris, hiring a rental car and driving to Cologne via luxemberg and I also want to stop at the Carolus Thermen hot spas at Aachen..(do they wear clothes in there?)
How can I avoid tolls???
Is there any cheap eating places in Paris?
We will be driving in January, and I have neevr even seen snow before so I am nervous about driving in it- do i need chains on the tyres? Is there an easy route with no big twisty mountain roads?
thanks
kerrie

2. Posted by lil_lil (Travel Guru 462 posts) 7y

Since I don't drive and I've not done such a route, I can't answer your driving/route related questions.

Tolls: the way to avoid it is to take scenic routes and skip the motorways. Garmin will probably do a good job, but no harm checking Mappy online for the driving directions either. Plus Mappy tells you where there will be toll or not, or if you want to avoid toll (click on "more options" and check avoid toll road), it can provide an alternative route rather than the quickest (which is likely to use motorways).

Yes, there are places that's reasonably cheap to eat in Paris. It is also usually cheaper to eat out at lunch time than at dinner. There are also plenty of fresh markets to buy bread, cheese, fruits and some even sell fresh roasted poultries - and they're usually fairly cheap. What kind of food are you looking for, and do you have specific dietary requirements?

3. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

We are flying into Paris, hiring a rental car and driving to Cologne via luxemberg and I also want to stop at the Carolus Thermen hot spas at Aachen..(do they wear clothes in there?)
How can I avoid tolls???

We will be driving in January, and I have neevr even seen snow before so I am nervous about driving in it- do i need chains on the tyres? Is there an easy route with no big twisty mountain roads?

Paris to Cologne via Aachen normally has no big mountains, but going through Reims, Luxembourg and Trier you'll hit the Hunsrück - unless you make a detour down south to Saarbrücken. These are not big mountains, but the Hunsrück can have some steep slopes and some heavy snow.

Google maps can help you plan a route that has no mountains, not even hills, just switch the view to show the "Terrain".

When you rent your car insist upon winter tyres and snow chains - most rental cars have "allround tyres". Real winter tyres will make it easier for you to drive in snow. Chances are you won't need snow chains. My family lives in Germany and nobody I know owns snow chains or has ever used them, but you should have them in your rental car nevertheless.

http://www.carolus-thermen.de/

According to the site (read between the lines, they mention changing rooms) you bathe in the Therme with swimming suit, bikini or swimming shorts. Only the Sauna area is nude-only. Since the water in thermal spas is very aggressive I would recommend bringing an old swimming suit that you can throw away after your visit.

4. Posted by kerriemel (Budding Member 3 posts) 7y

Thank you so much for your advice. It is very helpful.
I dont have any specific dietry requirements, and the markets sound great.
Are the thermal spas suitable for a young teenager with mild eczema?
We are so excited and cant wait to see whats over there...there is not much architectural history here in australia.
kerrie

5. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

Are the thermal spas suitable for a young teenager with mild eczema?

Teenager yes if they are well-behaved (thermal spas are more for older people who want to relax), eczema - I don't know. You'd have to ask a doctor.

Some spas are specifically suitable for people with eczema, while the water in other thermal spas makes the problem worse.

Information on the water at Aachen Carolus Therme and diseases that can be treated with it

In Germany the health insurance companies sometimes pay for extended stays at thermal spas, people who are sick can get extended treatment there. Rheumatism and asthma are common ailments that are treated in mineral spas. Eczema too, but it depends upon the water in the spa. Salt water is most common.

Looking online I find recommendations for Bad Rothenfelde, St. Peter Ording in Germany, Bad Deutsch-Altenburg and Bad Gleichenberg in Austria and some other spa towns in Spain and Eastern Europe - these spa towns are specifically suited for people with eczema. Bad Rothenfelde is closed to Aachen and Cologne. It is approx. 2 hours 40 min driving time from Cologne to Bad Rothenfelde.

If you are set on Aachen I would recommend that you write a letter to the management of the Carolus Therme and ask about the effect their water has on eczema. They should also be able to give you the address or contact details of specialised doctors who can see your child before s/he goes into the water and then can make a recommendation about yes or no.

6. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

Some more tips: When driving in winter make sure you got blankets in the car, one blanket per passenger. The rental car company won't provide them, it is best if you bring them with you. These shouldn't be small blankets, but warm and large enough to wrap a person in.

The blankets are in the case of an accident or big traffic jam, if you need to stop the car for more than an hour your car will get cold very quickly. The blankets will then provide an extra layer of warmth. You should also make sure the tank is at least half-full and that you have some hot tea or coffee in a Thermos flask and some food. Better safe than sorry.

If you already got them down sleeping bags can be a good alternative to blankets. They pack down much smaller, but are much more expensive to buy.

When driving in snow go gently. No hasty movements, steady at all times. Snow is ok to drive in, what really sucks is ice. Watch out especially for roads where the snow has thawed and then frozen over, this is the most dangerous of all conditions. In Germany the Autobahn (the A+ number roads) is toll free and least likely to have masses of snow, if there is snow the snow sweeping machines will be on the road within hours.

7. Posted by kerriemel (Budding Member 3 posts) 7y

Thanks so much for all your information.
It has given me a lot to think about.
I will buy blankets there rather than fly them from australia, and donate them to charity when we leave i guess...
How about I just wipe all my plans...and ask you- what i should do?
I just wanted to go to the spas because i thought it woul dbe nice to soak and unwind after a drive, and i thought it would be fun for the kids.........judging from your reply I think it may not be suitable......as typical teenagers they would be more likely to want to jump around in the water and annoy each other.
So, I have to drive from paris and end up at cologne. I wanted to find soemthing fun to do along the way- or something interesting for the boys. we will have already been to euro disney...
i want to try and avoid mountains and tolls
what way would you suggest? is brussels interesting? or down through strasbourg?
we will be leaving paris on the 8th Jan, staying in cologne for two nights, up to hamberg for one night, over to berlin for two nights..then flying to frankfurt and home....
a very quick trip....
any ideas and suggestions will be appreciated.
thank you
kerrie

8. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

I just wanted to go to the spas because i thought it woul dbe nice to soak and unwind after a drive, and i thought it would be fun for the kids.........judging from your reply I think it may not be suitable......as typical teenagers they would be more likely to want to jump around in the water and annoy each other.

You are right about the spa being a great place to unwind. There are some spas that are family friendly while others are posh old geezer places. Teenagers usually hate the latter, but you never know what a place is going to be like before you get there.

My mother's solution to the "teenager problem" at spas was outright blackmail: I went to XYZ (read Eurodisney) with you and what is more I paid their ridiculous entry fees. I did you a huge favour. Now do me a small favour back and behave yourself when we go to this spa. I really want to relax there, I deserve it after putting up with you brats 24/7. Woe to you if you cause trouble. And wait until you are there before you complain, you might even like it. Etc, etc.

And if your teenangels don't behave the worst that can happen is that you all get kicked out. At which point it is time for a motherly rant along the lines "I have never been so ashamed of you in my entire life...".

My advice would be not to miss out on the spa experience just because you are afraid what your brats will do. I would even go so far as to leave them in the pension or hotel to their own devices in front of a PC or with a book and hit the spa myself without them. My mother definitely did it with me and my siblings when we were teens and objected to the 4th visit in 7 days to an "old geezer" spa.

we will be leaving paris on the 8th Jan, staying in cologne for two nights, up to hamberg for one night, over to berlin for two nights..

That is an impossible trip. You'll be spending most of your time in the car. Keep in mind that at this time of the year the sun rises around 8 am and sets by 5 pm. So most of your sightseeing and driving should be crammed in between this time.

Paris to Cologne is a nice drive that hits a lot of nice places as long as you skip Luxembourg. I can recommend visiting Brussels. Brugge is supposed to be nice too. Aachen definitely has some highlights. A possible route that you should consider would be Paris-Amsterdam-Cologne. I have heard good things about Utrecht if you are going that way.

viamichelin.com can help you find a route that is toll free. But it is sometimes better to just pay the tolls because the roads that have tolls will be cleared from snow much faster and are designed not to go up and down mountains so much. You only pay tolls on the fast major roads in France and it is not that much: a mere 13 EUR for Paris-Brussels. Avoiding the toll roads between Paris and Brussels would mean adding 1 1/2 hour of driving time, are you sure you want to do that?

BTW, have you looked at the costs of car rental yet? Normally the car rental companies do not allow international drop-off and if they do they charge steep fees.

9. Posted by dnicholson (Full Member 146 posts) 7y

I think there are a lot of cheap places to eat in Paris, and I think you can find them anywhere while you drive. I think if you don't have any sense of directions you can ask for directions if you're lost or out of the way.