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Frustrated! 1st trip to PARIS & France in JULY: Need Cheery HELP!

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Hello, fans of Paris & France. I'm getting frustrated and would appreciate supportive, inspiring advice. I haven't booked anything yet for our 1st trip to Paris & the French countryside. JULY 2014 is now the date for our 2-week trip, for my husband and I.

7 nights: Paris & Versailles
8 nights: 1 or 2 "bases" in the French countryside


We were originally aiming for June in Paris & the French countryside (possibly Provence). But since the happy announcement of a grandchild, who is due in June, we've moved the date of our trip to JULY. Traveling with my husband, just the 2 of us. We will rent a car if needed, or take trains.

My Rick Steves guidebook for France is FRUSTRATING me, as it seems unusually Plodding. Not as helpful as his Italy guidebook was. I've also got a Fodors guidebook to France. But it's now October, and I want to start booking this trip!

JULY WEATHER AND CROWDS??? Please suggest the spots in France where YOU feel the weather is good in July, and the crowds are not so overwhelming as to make you wish you were elsewhere?

Wish List:
--Scenic countryside (including natural features, NOT only farms)
--Charming small town or village
--Eating & drinking adventures...especially if we can eat well without dressing fancy!
--Cultural & historical adventures
--Friendly locals who might be patient with me practicing my beginner's French!

Please feel free to give me your Subjective advice. I always find it inspiring to hear what YOU love when you travel! It won't help if you tell me to do a lot more research. That's all I've been doing, and I'm not making progress. My Rick Steves guidebook is actually boring me.

PARIS: Will probably post a separate question on PARIS accommodations. I'm a light sleeper, and appreciate a quiet room, which in a noisy city is often overlooking a quiet garden. Ideally I'd like a central location, and if it's owner-run, that's often fun, if the owners chat with the guests. Sometimes a hotel is necessary in a city...although I don't like big impersonal hotels. Budget: Somewhere between moderate and splurge for Paris, but we don't need the most expensive hotel in Paris. I don't like renting a place, since I appreciate owners or staff who can answer our questions each day.

THANK YOU, Fodorites!

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