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other than Paris, what is a must see for France?

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Hi all...

My husband and I will be traveling to France for the 1st time on March 13th 2015. We arrive in Paris on March 17th and will be there for 6 full days. We would like to go to another location for 3 nights prior to Paris. I was thinking we should just stay in France since I'm sure there's much more to see. If there is something amazing in another country thats close and easy to get to Paris from, I would also be open to that. We are not huge museum/architecture people. We like to see how the locals live, enjoy good food and wine, pedestrian filled streets, non tourist shops, outdoor markets etc.

We already have a tour planned to see Normandy so we don't need to see that. I keep hearing go the the south of France. Nice, Monaco etc. My only hesitation is the weather in March might be cold and I also feel like there will be super high end stores (which I'm not interested in) and other than that, I'm not really sure what else we might enjoy there.

I am very overwhelmed and will be leaving in 5 weeks. I appreciate any suggestions and advice on how to make my trip the most effective with travel and such. I should also add, since we will only be there for 3 nights, being somewhat close to an airport will be great.

Also, we have always been hotel people. While traveling in Europe last year, some of the locals were adament that we should book thru air B and B instead of hotels. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance!

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