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Provence and Amalfi Small Town bases

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This will be our third trip to Europe. We are hooked! The past two times, we've stayed more or less for four nights in each of five places, total of 3 weeks travel. This year (late September/early Oct) same idea, we fly into Paris and out of Rome. We've visited Paris once before and are eager to go back. In between the two cities, we want to make this a water themed vacation. We found that we enjoy vacation rentals in small villages - last two times we visited and loved Amboise, Florence, Montepulciano, Colmar, Murren Switzerland, Bruges, Riquewihr, France and Cochem, Germany. Thanks to many other Fodorites we made lots of informed good choices.

We like the smaller of these the best, and with it the ability to travel to at least one other village. We rented bikes in Cochem and visited Bielstein and hiked/trained to Burg Eltz, for example. While in Riquewihr we pedaled to nearby villages on two of the three days.

We have narrowed down our three stops to: Provence, Cinque Terre, and the Amalfi Coast.

Judging by our "slow" travel preferences, (we don't intend to rent a car because seeing lots of sights isn't the goal, living and market shopping and boat/bike rides/walks/café sits are what we want, what pairs of towns in Provence and Amalfi could you suggest? I read a post of someone who stayed in Arles and went to "nearby Collia, rented a canoe, and viewed Pont du Gard from riverside for the first time". That is what floats our boat! There's lots of info on CT, but I'm getting confused, especially about Provence (or should we concentrate on Cote D'Azur instead? not big city lovers and don't care about seeing rich people but the seaside would be wonderful, although I know there's no sandy beaches, that's ok. Saw a rental in Villefranche-sur-mer...). Provence sounds beautiful and very varied. Arles sounds lovely like Riquewihr. On Amalfi, we want to be close to the water, not up high in one of the hill towns. Is there a small village that would work?

Is casual biking possible in Provence? Sounds like it's too windy and hilly for us flat-landers (we live in Florida and bike and swim and kayak often but don't do well on hills!).

Thanks for any and all suggestions! Sorry for the ramble, I wanted to explain as precisely as I could. :)

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