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Paris - Venice

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Hi there
My wife and I are from South Africa and planning a trip in June this year. We land in Paris and leave from Venice. We plan on spending 3 nights in paris, then making our way south to Tours by train and then hiring a car and expolring the Loire Valley for a couple of days. Not sure where to go there - so suggestions welcome.
From there we plan on going south towards the coast then crossing the boarder and into Italy. We want to spend time in Florence and surrounds then make our way up to Venice.
We have roughly 10 nights for France and 10 for Italy and have only booked the 3 nights for Paris so far.
I really would appreciate some advice on places to do and see. We want to experience French and Italian country side, small towns, fine food etc - with a bit of the obvious tourist big city stuff.
Should we be hiring a car for the whole trip? Should be dropping off car in France and then hiring another in Italy etc [is that a cheaper option?]

Thanks

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