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How to take the Scenic View from Paris to Provence?

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I am starting to put together an itinerary for 2 1/2 weeks (18 days) in France in May. We are flying in and out of Paris. The first week we will be using a village in the Luberon, just outside of Avignon, as our base to explore Provence, and specifically the Luberon. We have two full days upon arrival to get from CDG to Avignon (have been to Paris before so no plans to spend more than a day or so in Paris on the tail end of the trip). I am debating between taking the train to Avignon and renting a car from there for two weeks or else just renting the car in Paris (more flexibility this way, but way more driving).

If we drive, it would be nice to see something else of France enroute to the region we will spend most of our time. I would love to see the Dordognes region, but note that it will add four+ hrs of driving time and we won't have much time when we are there. We have only 2 days to get from Paris to Avignon. I know it isn't ideal, and we will - of course - have to go back if we want to really "see" anything in the area, but do you think it is worth the extra driving to spend the afternoon of one day and the morning of the next in the area? I have no specific "must-sees" at present. I just think the area looks beautiful. Is there a better route that makes a scenic (non super highway) two day drive from Paris to Provence?

The second half (9 days) of our trip will likely include some hiking and sightseeing in/around the Gorges du Verdon and other parts of southern France. Still not quite sure of the itinerary, and possible we could include Dordognes on way back to Paris. The main question about the 2nd leg I have right now is whether there is a good 2 day scenic route to get from the Nice/Northern Italy back up to Paris, perhaps taking in some of the Alps?

A couple of final points: Flying into CDG is not negotiable given where we are coming from. Hiking, natural beauty, good food, wine, beautiful architecture and scenery are my priorities for this trip (not museums, cities, cultural events etc.)

Thanks!

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