Destinations in southern/eastern France

Posted on February 16, 2016 | in Travellers Questions | by

My boyfriend (29) and I (26) are planning a trip to France this summer. Two years ago we went to Ireland and Scotland, and learned that we get overwhelmed by large cities and much prefer small towns and pretty sights. Another thing we learned was that we shouldnt try to fit an entire country into our vacation so that we can really appreciate the places we do visit. For these reasons, weve decided to pass on Paris for now and stick with the southern and eastern regions of France. As I said, we enjoy seeing pretty places, and we also enjoy hiking, taking photographs, and experiencing local culture (not necessarily just tourist attractions). We prefer to travel on a budget and hope to meet people, so when possible, we would like to stay in hostels.

We could use some help narrowing down (or swapping out) destinations. From research online and asking friends, we are interested in the following places:
* Colmar – Looks like its straight out of a fairy tale and I have ancestors from the area. Were pretty set on this one.
* Riquewihr
* Bern, Switzerland – It looks like well be driving through here, so it could be a good day trip. Ideas for things to do in the area?
* Annecy
* Mont Blanc – Is there good hiking here?
* Nice – Ive heard mixed-reviews (some have said it is too touristy), but it could be a good spot for hostels.
* Èze
* Saint-Paul-de-Vence
* Verdon Gorge/Lac de Saint-Croix – Hiking?
* Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
* Lavender Fields – Ive heard the Provence lavender fields in general are beautiful. Id love ideas of which to see.
* Var – I wrote this department down for some reason, but now I have no idea why. Is anything there a must-see?
* Cassis – Again, Ive heard mixed reviews, from "an absolute must-see" to "dirty and crowded." Would it be worth it to go and hike the Calanques?
* Montpelier – Worth stopping by on the way to Carcassonne?
* Carcassonne – This is another stop were really excited about. Weve found a hostel inside the walled city and we are stoked! Any ideas in/around the city?
* Estaing
* Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
* Rocamadour Our trip is going to be about 2 weeks, and this is obviously a long destination list, so Id appreciate advice on what to take off or if theres anything with which it would be worth replacing an item on here. The only destinations Im set on (unless you can convince me otherwise) are Colmar and Carcassonne. Many of the places on this list are on there because they are beautiful, medieval towns, but I dont want to see so many that I become unappreciative. Im the type of person who likes to see everything, so picking and choosing is my weakest area, and it kills me to know that I could be right on the border of Germany and Italy without venturing into them. Are there any places in those countries (near the border) that I should make an exception for? It looks like Geneva is a relatively cheap airport to fly in/out of, but Id like to find another airport towards the western end of my journey for the other flight, since a roundtrip flight doesnt seem like it will make much sense. Ideas? EDIT: I would also love ideas for how to pack. Ive heard that southern France can get quite warm, but Im not sure about how cold the towns along the French Alps will be. We could also use transportation ideas (car? plane? bus? train?)

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