As promised, here is my travel diary with what we did in France and recommendations on what to skip and things to see if you ever find yourself heading to wine region or the French Riviera! I decided to break this post into two parts so that you can see enough pictures and get a clear idea of what to do without the post being way too long and overwhelming.
To begin the trip, I flew into Lyon and headed to Cluny, a small village in the French countryside with old cobblestone streets, pastel buildings, shops and patisseries. It always makes me jealous that some people get to live in such inspiring, gorgeous, and historical places that have an authentic and innate charm about them. The drive took about an hour and a half. Things I would recommend:
1. Rent a car if you are outside of a big city like Paris and plan to see multiple regions. Its way easier getting around and you can find great deals on day rates.
2. Research the hotel you stay in to make sure that when it is hot, the AC works really well and the reviews of the hotel are all great. Not that you should be at the hotel hardly at all, but at night in the summer it can get toasty and uncomfortable if there is a weak AC or none at all. Ours was called Hotel Le Potin Gourmand was great but the AC was a little weak but so cute and had an amazing restaurant as part of the hotel. The breakfast was included in the room and was so delicious.
3. If you are looking to visit and see a small town but also have other more populated areas you are heading to, like the South of France, I would keep the smaller villages to a couple days and move along. They are amazing, but very small and you can see everything in the matter of a couple hours.
4. Many restaurants and cafes in smaller towns and villages close down at 2 and don't open up again until dinner time, so be sure to get lunch before then and plan accordingly. I skipped lunch one day because we were busy walking around and wine tasting and was thinking I could get a bite when I got back. I was hungry for hours waiting for something to open!
5. Cluny Abbey is a former Benedictine monastary in Cluny and is gorgeous. Its definitely worth a peek or even just a stroll nearby to check it out. You can't miss it, its huge. Like I said, the town is very small so everything is a short walking distance away.