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a week in France

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Hello Everyone,
I'd love some advice from you seasoned travelers. I'm spending a week in England visiting relatives at the end of July, early August, and planning to fly from Manchester to Paris to meet a friend who has never been to France. I'm a novice there myself, having only been once - on a tour. We want to see Paris, but also spend some days in the countryside. I think we'll have about 7 days total. Suggestions? There may be three women traveling together by then, with two of us going on to Madrid for a week afterwards. How can we make the most of France in 7 days? Provence seemed like a good idea after a few days in Paris, but is it too far? Should we find a countryside location with easier/shorter access to Paris?
I haven't read a lot of forums yet, so haven't looked at hotels suggestions, or areas of Paris to stay in either, so if you want to throw in a good suggestion for where to stay in Paris, too, that would be great!
Thanks!

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