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6 days in French Riviera and Aix en Provence

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My husband, 2 sons (17 and 12), and I will be arriving into Nice from the United States at around 11:30 am near the end of July and staying in the French Riviera and Aix en Provence for 6 days before we head to the Italian Riviera. We would like suggestions on how to divide up the trip.

We would like to drive to Aix (inland route) and stop at some of the little towns along the way. We hear it is a beautiful drive, especially this time of year. On the way back to Nice, we also want to hit some of the smaller towns like Cassis. Of course, we will want to visit Antibes, Cannes, St. Tropez, St. Paul de Vence, Menton, Monaco, etc. We have been told that it is not smart to try to drive East on the Coast of Nice at this time of year due to traffic, so we were planning to take trains.

We think we will be too tired to drive when we arrive the first night. We had originally been planning to stay the first night in Nice, then drive to Aix for 2 nights, then back to Nice as our home base for 3 more nights.

Our second plan was to spend the first night in Antibes, the next 2 nights in Aix, and the remaining 3 nights in Nice.

Now that I started looking into accommodations, I remember the reason we usually rent apartments, so I am thinking maybe we should stay in Nice for 3 nights and then Aix for 3 nights or perhaps Nice for 4 nights and then Aix for 2 nights.

Because I have never been to any of these places, I was hoping that someone might have suggestions.

We like eating, shopping (unique items--not T-shirts and not brand name items), little towns, people watching, tourist attractions, art (but not so much museums), and eating (higher end). (Of course, if anyone has any "can't miss" experiences, we welcome those as well. I am just beginning my research.) We will likely go to the beach once or twice for an hour or two, but it is definitely not the focus of our trip.

Any recommendations on how to best divide up our time given your knowledge of the area--traffic, transportation, our interests, time of year, etc.?

Thank you!!!

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