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Channel Islands to Mediterranean

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My husband and I (in our 50's) have not been to Europe since we were each teenagers; me to visit family in Jersey and Brittany; he to visit distant family in Yugoslavia (so called at the time).
we are starting to plan 3 week vacation next year, preferably starting late August.

We would like to start in Jersey where I still have cousins and end up on a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean - perhaps even back to Croatia or perhaps southern France or Spain.

I'm a bit overwhelmed with choices and thought perhaps a rough plan:
5 days Jersey - beach walks, good dining, historic sites.
7 days France - perhaps skip Paris since perhaps not enough time - we like smaller cities - thinking Mont St Michel, Normandy....then what? which directon to wander south?
5 days beach - with side trips to visit historic sites

Would car rental be stressful? We are small town Canadians not used to crazy traffic. Any suggestions on path south, and stops along the way, or perhaps even take the train south and get another car? Also some suggestions for beach town on Mediterranean (not wall to wall people!)

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