My husband and I are planning our first trip to France from May 17 - May 26. We are flying in and out of Paris, and plan to spend the first 3.5 days/4 nights in Paris, then take a train to Provence & rent a car there to explore the area for 5 nights/4 days. (I realize that it would make more sense to fly out of Nice, but the flights out of Nice were significantly more expensive and had multiple layovers, so we opted to fly out of Paris).
We are trying to determine where exactly to stay in Provence & would love your input. Rick Steves recommends Arles and Avignon, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on those cities, but we are open to other suggestions as well. We enjoy beautiful views, good food and wine, a great market, cafes where you can linger, perhaps somewhere for a short hike or bike ride. Also, when choosing a home base, we would like to keep in mind ease of getting a train connection back to Paris on 5/26.
We have also considered splitting our time between two different towns in Provence by spending 3 nights in one of the cities such as Arles or Avignon, and 2 nights in or outside of one of the small towns in the countryside, perhaps further north or east (maybe Vaison-la-Romaine or Roussillon), so that we can explore the area without driving back and forth to one home base all 5 nights and spending too much time in the car & would love to hear any suggestions on that.
We loved our stay at an agriturismo in Tuscany, so if there's anything similar to that in Provence we would consider that as well.
Thanks in advance!
For those who are more visual, this is how our itinerary would look:
Arrive around lunchtime on 5/17: Paris
5/21: Travel to Provence in AM / half day in Provence
5/26: Travel back to Paris in AM. Flight leaves CGD at 5:15pm.
PS - I know that many may recommend that we spend more time in Paris, but my husband strongly prefers the countryside to large cities, so we've come to this compromise regarding how to allocate our time in France. :) We don't plan on going to Versailles, so our 3.5 days will be spent in Paris itself.