Working on our France trip for next June. We will stay in Paris for 5 nights, then off to the countryside. I'm leaning towards Provence for a full 6 nights. If we do that should we stay in one place or divide 3 nights between two locations? I"m thinking of staying in St. Remy. Where else, or just stay put? Also, should I consider Loire instead? I am not a good decision maker and go back and forth about both. Would it be worth a day trip from Paris? Thanks for the help!
Will you have a car? IMO St. Remy is a good base in Provence, and I would just stay put there rather than move to another location. Consider taking the train from Paris and picking up the car upon arrival. 6 days is too long for the Loire - 3 nights is adequate. You could combine 3 nights in the Loire with 3 nights in Normandy. Again, a car is recommended. You could day-trip to both places from Paris, but with only 5 days in Paris, I'd stay in Paris as there is more than enough to do there. Get a good guide book and some maps and study them. Then you will have a better idea of which areas appeal to you the most. For a 2 week trip you don't want to do more than Paris and one or two other areas. Have fun planning and have a great trip.
Susan, if you want to see some beautiful countryside in France, you might also consider visiting Normandy. It is absolutely beautiful and only about 2 hours from Paris. On the way to Normandy you can stop in Giverny to see Monet's home and garden, which is magnificent! We have visited Normandy and Provence in recent years and found that while both areas are fantastic, we found the ountryside in Normandy incredibly beautiful. We were so charmed by Normandy, we can't wait to return again soon. Also, if you or your husband like the history aspect, the World War II Landing Beaches, Museums, Memorials, American Cemetery are all fascinating to visit. My family stayed at a great B&B called Le Mas Normand, which we all enjoyed immensely (even my kids). It was in a good central location for visiting the area. Note: we also just spent three idyllic weeks this past summer in Provence, and I still love Normandy more.
I actually did see Normandy this last summer, but it was only a glimpse since it was a one day excursion from a cruise ship. We did a private tour with Overlord Tours. We saw Omaha, Utah, American Cemetery and Sainte-Mère-Église. It was really great, but I think the weather being cold and windy took away my enthusiasm for the area. It also wasn't really a fair shake since we were only there one day and just drove through. So, it really doesn't draw me back the way Burgundy did. I do hate to miss the Loire, but I've heard so much about Provence and how everyone loves it, I hate to miss out on it. So, right now I'm thinking of taking the train to Tours, renting a car and staying one night in the Loire region, dropping the car, then train to Provence (essentially back to Paris and then Provence) for the remaining 5 nights. Maybe staying in one region (St. Remy?) and renting a car for that full time. It looks to be too far to drive by car to Provence - 7 hours. Does this seem reasonable?
My all time favorite place to use as a home base for provence is St. Remy. It is the perfect size town for a base. Lots of great restaurants, shopping, the best market and easy drive to so many places. I usually stay for quite a while when I am there as I am often with lots of photography friends, but there is certainly nothing wrong with trying another location for a few nights if it is an easy enough move. You may find your own favorite town.
The TGV goes from Paris to Avignon. We based in Avignon and rented a car. We liked Arles, Vaison Le Romaine, Ilse sur le Sorgue , Gordes, Roussillon. We found Avignon to be a great center point and we ventured out each day in a new direction. There are so many towns to see and it's fun to get "lost in Provence" for an afternoon and enjoy the country side.
If you must visit the Loire this trip I think the way you've figured it out is the way to go. Note however that you can see many great Renaissance chateaux as day trips from Paris. Chantilly, Fontainebleau, Versailles.
Since I posted this I have reworked the itinerary and come up with a new plan for France. We will fly to Paris 5 nights, train to Loire 3 nights and then onto Provence (staying in Apt in the Luberon) for 5 nights. Right now the question is whether we want to do the long drive from Loire to Provence and keep the car and be on our own time schedule, or drop the car in Tours and take the train to Provence and rent a new car. It looks like the cost maybe about the same and the time of the train is much faster, but then you consider all the logistics it actually maybe about the same.