The purpose of this chapter is to analyse how Amsterdam, the ‘Venice of the north’, competed in the minds of the French with its sister city in the south during the ancien régime. The analysis will be based on a large corpus of travel narratives, alongside published travel guides and writings frequently consulted by travellers at the time. This chapter will, first, briefly review the increasing popularity of the ‘trip to Holland’ and its connection to Franco-Dutch relations from the late sixteenth century – the birthdate of the Dutch Republic – to the early nineteenth century. It will then focus on the eighteenth century, where the early signs of what would become the more ‘leisurely’ trips of the nineteenth century can be observed. Finally, the chapter will offer a close textual ‘reading’ of the French traveller’s perception of Amsterdam, exploring the accounts, impressions and itineraries in surviving travel narratives to uncover the reasons behind Amsterdam’s popularity. 1