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Itinerary help: St. Remy / Marseille / Nice then? end in Milan

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We are thrilled to be heading to Provence this August and ending our trip in Milan for the Formula 1 grande prix in Monza. We've not really explored this part of Europe so would love to get a nice mix of local flavor / "best of"s at our usual leisurely, pretend-we-live-there pace. We like to stay in do places with charm (Sevilla is a favorite, as is Krakow) that are big enough for us to find a wine bar or pub (or a few of these) that we can adopt as our "local". (A few years back we stayed in a gorgeous village in the Pyranees but about died of boredom as we like to watch and interact with locals - and this place had only 1 resto, with one patron and a TV set on. Of course we made the best of it but we now realize this was too remote!)

We have a few hard-set plans and would like to keep travel sensible (e.g., move in one motion, more or less rather than doubling back - we killed ourselves doing the opposite last summer). To this end, I'd love advice, please. We plan to have a car while in France.

We fly in to Marseille on Sat., 22 Aug
We meet friends in Nice/surrounds Fri. 28-30 Aug
We need to be in Milan Thursday, 3 Sept.

We thought we'd spend a few days in Marseille and surrounds (incl. Aix) as well as 3 days-ish in St. Remy and surrounds (Avignon+). We have no idea what to do from 31-morning of 3 Sept!

I'd love your thoughts on 1) which order to visit Marseille vs. St. Remy; 2) how much time in each; 3) any big recommendations for the St. Remy de Provence area or alternative bases for discovering this area? And the floor is yours for the 3-3.5 days between Nice and Milan!

We hope to avoid the crush of the riviera this time of year (which is also why we are sticking to Provence vs. Italy until we need to be there).

Thank you in advance for your help. Fodorites have always provided the best advice, we are so grateful!

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