A potpourri of European travel for the exceptionally naive
July 7, 2014 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I leave from Manchester in a few days for Bruges, Ghent, and Paris. My questions concern how best to bring quasi-necessities in carry on, vegan food, beer, and activities. Do you know much about these places and these questions? You can probably help me out. More specific questions inside.

I have a day and a night each in Bruges and Ghent, and five days in Paris, so for the activities and food in the Belgian cities, highlights are probably better than a range of possibilities. I'm vegan and I like all styles of beer. I've had a wide range of the Belgian beer that's available in America, so beers that aren't exported are ideal, even if they're not the absolute best. Literary, architectural, historical, and artistic destinations are of interest, in roughly that order. I'll be traveling alone for much of the trip except some portions in Paris. I speak enough French to get by in a pinch but prefer places where English is acceptable. Maybe I should mention that I'm in my mid-twenties, since age can be important for nightlife.

Okay, in approximately chronological order based on when I will need them:

1) It'd be ideal for me if I were able to bring some hair product, toothpaste, and Dr. Bronner's on my trip. I will only be using carry on bags. What kind of store does one go to in order to buy 100ml containers for this stuff in England? In Manchester specifically would be best.

2) Will I be able to buy safety razor blades easily on the continent, or should I leave the razor behind and just use disposables for the trip?

3) What do you think is most interesting to do in Bruges? What beer bars are most interesting and ideal for somebody traveling alone? Where can I get a good vegan meal?

4) For Ghent, but the same questions as for Bruges. Interesting things to do, good beer, vegan food.

5) In Paris, I'll be based in the Marais. What stands out in that neighborhood?

6) Of course, I know the usual suspect museums in Paris and whatnot, but what other places might be worth visiting? Good day trips would also be great.

7) And is there any particularly interesting vegan food to be had? I'd be particularly interested in vegan interpretations of traditional French cooking.

Thanks so much!
posted by vathek to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To the first two:

1) Sainsbury's has 4 for 3 on travel size goods, including packets of containers at the moment. If not that, Boots or Superdrug should be fine.
2) Cartridge razor blades (Gillette Fusion, Mach 3, etc) are fine in carry-on luggage.
posted by ambrosen at 4:02 PM on July 7, 2014

In Belgium it's likely that you will be handed a literal book of beer selections. As for recomendation, I'd ask the server/bartender.
posted by humboldt32 at 4:55 PM on July 7, 2014

In Paris, I'll be based in the Marais. What stands out in that neighborhood?

Oh man. Head to Rue des Rosiers and do a falafel taste-off between L'As du Fallafel and Chez Hanna. (If the lines are too crazy for seating at either one, you can get food to go super quickly.)

If you go to Notre-Dame, stop by Sainte Chapelle while you're in the neighborhood. It's kind of hidden inside the Palais de Justice, and the times I've been there it's never been terribly crowded.
posted by asterix at 5:18 PM on July 7, 2014

Behind Notre Dame, to the right in a corner of the park, is the Deportation Memorial, which you wouldn't know was there unless you'd been told. It's a memorial to the Jews of Paris who were sent to the concentration camps. It'll take no more than 15 minutes to visit, but it's well worth it.
posted by essexjan at 9:19 PM on July 7, 2014

The Deportation Memorial was closed when we were there a few days ago.
posted by purenitrous at 9:54 PM on July 7, 2014

In Bruges, be sure to tour De Halve Maan brewery. It's worth it for the view from the roof. And have a beer at 't Brugs Beertje.

I enjoyed dinner at Malpertuus, but their menu isn't online and I'm not sure if they serve anything vegan. There are quite a few cafes around the corner (on Geernaarstraat), which is a good place to drink beer if you want to sit outside and watch people. If you're interested in buying any chocolate, visit Dumon Chocolatier across the street.
posted by neushoorn at 10:20 PM on July 7, 2014

Do the disposable thing while you travel - you don't risk losing the handle of your razor if you leave it at home.

In Paris, if you have any interest in impressionism, go see the Musee Marmottan Monet.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:41 AM on July 8, 2014

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