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Retirement Celebration trip: Loire Valley or Provence?

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After 32 years of teaching, I'll be retiring this year, and DH and I want to celebrate with a trip to Europe. We are at the beginning stages of planning for this summer and need help choosing a destination.

I've done a bit of research on both areas, and can't decide between the elegance of the chateaux in the Loire, or what appears to be the quaint, more rustic charm of Provence. Already I am finding myself spending hours on websites, and need a little direction!

We have been to Paris and traveled more extensively in Italy. We love Rome, Venice and Florence, but particularly enjoyed driving around Tuscany and staying in small towns such as San Quirico d'Orcia and San Gimignano.

A perfect trip would probably mix some picturesque historical towns (and shopping) with quaint villages...could anyone help us decide which area would be better? Thanks in advance for any assistance.

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