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Road trip from Paris to Venice

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Hi there, we are wanting to travel from Paris through the Loire Valley to Avignon/Provence, stay a few days and then onto the coast to stay in / around Nice for about three days, before then making our way over to Italy to stay in Cinque Terre for a couple of days. We leave Paris on 17th September and need to be in Venice Sunday 25th.
We have both done the touristy trails before and this time want to be on our own time, seeing as much of the countryside and experiencing the real France as possible. We're not so keen on castle viewing but obviously seeing some of the grandeur and history will be a highlight. We are generally wanting to have a fairly relaxed holiday type road-trip.

Some questions:
1. Is it worthwhile (i.e. is the extra time going to be worth the countryside/trip) to travel through to Bordeaux and then loop back around to hit Avignon/Provence region and if so, should we stay in Bordeaux or somewhere outside of it that is more quaint/country-sidish?

2. We understand that to rent a car in one country and drop off at another we would pay a drop charge. I can see that we can get a car for approx $400 - 500 USD a week, with another $150 USD for the drop charge. Is it much better to drop off in Nice and then pick up again in San Remo perhaps?

3. With the car hire, as we are from NZ we are unsure if we should book now or wait until we get to the UK or even in Paris. Ideally we don't want to have to pay more than required so your help here would be great!

4. I understand having a car in Cinque Terre is not a good idea, so should we drop off in Genoa or is there another port we could drop off at? Or should we stay just out of the Cinque Terre region, still allowing us to visit by train etc but still retain the flexibility of having the car as we would quite like to make our way to Sienna and through Tuscany if we can.

5. Finally, is it fine to drive into Venice or recommended to drop off at an earlier port?

Your help would be much appreciated!
Thanks

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