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First trip to France!

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Hello! I'm in the beginning stages of planning a 7-9 day (depends on how flights work out) trip to France. The trip would be easier for me to take early/mid August, but I could also make it work in mid October if that is better! This will be my first major trip, so I'm looking for some advice! I'm hoping to hit Paris, Loire Valley, and Marseille or Nice. I plan to fly in and out of Paris. So, what are your suggestions on:
1)length of time spent in each location, 2) method of travel between each location, 3) where to base myself in Loire Valley 4) deciding between Marseille and Nice and 5) if it's worth it to wait till October instead of August.
Any other bits of advice would also be welcome!

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