Thank you for all of your tips and suggestions. I appreciate your feedback. I'm going to stick to my list of cities to visit but will adjust the time frame to each city. Once I get my flight booked (hopefully very soon), I will plan out my trip.
Someone mentioned (I can't remember who) that Provence is best seen by car. I'm not going to rent a car. I was planning on visiting everything by train, bus and walking! I may reconsider and go to the places that another member suggested; "About France: Monte Carlo, Nice and hitting Reims when you travel to Paris."
I have thought about what all of you said with regards to traveling south first and then north. My big dilemma right now is deciding which city to fly into first: France or Italy? t_maia suggested flying into Paris first and then Italy b/c I can save on train tickets in Italy. Sounds good. I'm trying to listen to my gut instinct, "Where do I want to go first? Do I want to start in Paris and finish in Italy, or start in Rome and finish in Paris?" Do, do, do, do; Do, do, do; Do, do, do, do, do-do-do-do; Do, do, do..... (theme song from Jeopardy). lol.
Thanks again for your input.
P.S. Would I book my budget flight from home or once I'm in Europe? Does it really take 12-16 hours to get from Rome to Paris? Someone mentioned that the train ride is nice b/c you get to see the view. However, I will worry about my main flight first and then decide.