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Help with plans for Provence, Dordogne, Burgundy and Paris

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Hello, I'm looking for some advice on fine tuning 6 weeks in France in June-July 2012. I've been trawling forums and have posted on some and dealing with contradictory views (but that's to be expected with everyone having their own perceptions). Anyway, hoping for some advice from those who have travelled in these areas of France. My husband and I will be driving from Northern Italy (where we'll have been for 6 weeks) and picking my sister up in Nice around June 2nd. We want to base ourselves in Provence (and I've done a separate post about that). My main question is around timing and travelling between places. It makes sense to stay in Provence for at least a week given we are meeting my sister in Nice. I was considering the Languedoc area but after reading earlier threads I've decided that as this is our first visit to France, Provence and the Dordogne will be better options. We have always wanted to visit Burgundy and a friend of mine was recently in Beaune for a week and loved the area. My problem is the logistics as it looks like it might be quite a way from Provence to Dordogne and then to Burgundy. Our last two weeks we were going to devote to Paris but we're flexible - less time is an option.

Although it seems a shame to drive long days from one place to the next we don't want to be stopping off overnight and would prefer to travel to an area we want to spend time in and base ourselves for 5-7 days at a time. It seems to me that many gites and other self-catering accommodation require Sat-Sat rental. We want to experience being in a place, go to markets, shop and cook for ourselves, some eating out to experience the local cuisine, walks in countryside, riding bikes in the countryside, historic places and buildings. What we don't want to do is rush around seeing 'must-sees' of any description. Hope some of the experienced travellers on this forum can provide some useful suggestions. I'll see what responses I get to this broad topic and if need be will post questions about specific areas later.

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