France for Kids: Where to Go and What to Do

A holiday to France is certainly a treat for the grown-ups. With outstanding gastronomy, the best wines in the world, and towns and cities steeped in history, a French vacation is made for culture vultures. Throw in the awe-inspiring countryside backdrops and unbelievable coastal sunsets, and you’ve got an adult paradise. But there’s also a world of fun and exploration for the little ones too.

From the vast outdoor space and exciting activities to the museums, children’s parks and the castles and fortresses that look like they’ve been plucked out of a story book, there’ll never be a dull moment.

So if you’re planning a family holiday to France this year, take a look at some of the best regions to go with toddlers, babies and children. Here we have some great advice on where to go and what to do when you get there.

Brittany

The region of Brittany is absolutely fantastic for families. Not only does it have the most inviting seaside resorts in the country, but it’s also a great place for activities and outdoor pursuits. So if you’re planning on getting the kids active or you just want to make sure the whole family gets some fresh air this summer, head to Brittany and get ready to embrace the beautiful outdoors world around you.

Where to Go:

There’s a huge 2,800 km coastline so you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to seaside towns. We particularly love the region where our featured property, Le Rhun, is located. This region, which translates to “end of the earth” in English is a magical destination for families. There are some great beaches and a beautiful national park. Other towns that are worth looking into are Saint. Malo, Rennes and the commune of Saint Brieuc.

brittany

What to Do:

Beaches in Brittany are not only great for sunbathing and sandcastles (grab your buckets and spades), but they’re also fantastic for surfing. The waves are ideal for first timers – fantastic for kids wanting to learn to surf. There are also more than 1,700 km of cycle routes in the region and so many safe places to ride, so the whole family can explore Brittany on two wheels. In addition to outdoor activities, you’ll also find many museums, play centres and kids’ attractions. Including the old paper factory at Moulin à Papier de Pen-Mur, Enigmaparc (jungle adventure), La Porte des Secrets Museum in Brocéliande Forest, and the fantastic Océanopolis Aquarium.

Loire Valley

Just a short ride from Paris, this sophisticated region is the epitome of French splendour. From its prolific castles and magnificent mansions to the refined gastronomy and wine tasting, it’s a paradise for grown-ups. And for the kids? Well if the kings, queens and fairy tale fortresses aren’t enough to tantalise their imaginations, the theme parks and petting zoos sure will.

Where to Go:

Loire is divided into four main departments. We would recommend staying near the central department, Indre-et-Loire, where you will find seven of the major Loire Valley chateaux. Or in the Regional Natural Park Loire-Anjou-Touraine for the most spectacular scenery to wake up to every morning. The Château de Chargé cottages are located right in the heart of the park, as is our featured property, La Grange.

What to Do:

The best chateaux of the Loire Valley are Cité royale de Loches, Chinon, Chaumont, Blois, Meung Castle, Chenonceau, Amboise, Clos Lucé, Chambord, Villandry and Rivau. These are just of a few of the major chateaux to visit, and kids of all ages will enjoy exploring the grounds with the feeling that they’ve travelled back in time to the land of kings, queens and mystical dragons. Beautiful villages and vineyards surround the castles and fortresses of the region, so there will be much to explore on foot. Cycling is also a great activity in this part of France, and there are many attractions for children of all ages. Some fun family ideas include kayaking or sailing down the Loire River, visiting the Caves of Savonnières or spending the day at Mini Chateaux, Zoo de Beauval, Anjou Adventure Park or Hollypark.

Burgundy

The historical region of Burgundy is known for its world famous wines, incredible food, peaceful canals studded with grand châteaux, and its fabulous capital of Dijon. Whether you’re a foodie, a wine enthusiast or a culture vulture, there really is so much to do here. And whilst some parents may wonder whether Burgundy’s grape-laden acres could mix well with kids, we beg you to dig a little deeper. As this region is also great for nature walks, hiking and cycling. And there are plenty of attractions to keep the little ones entertained too.

Where to Go:

We have a lovely featured properties that is around an hour’s drive away from Dijon.  Les Logis Du Theatre, is just a 200 metre stroll from the centre of Poligny which is a small town in the scenic Jura winelands, not too far from the border with Switzerland. Other popular destinations include Beaune, Auxerre, Vézelay, Chablis and Macon.

burgundy

What to Do:

Worried that your little monkeys will be bored in Burgundy? We have some fantastic day out ideas! Including a visit to the MuséoParc Alesia where kids of all ages can enjoy interactive fun and learning about pre-Roman history, the zip wires and adventure courses of AcroGivry L’Aventure en Forêt, the zoo and attraction park of Touroparc, and the replica castle for children at Guédelon.

Provence / Cote d’Azur

The Provence region is located in south eastern France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. This area is known for its diverse landscapes, from the Southern Alps to rolling vineyards and the beautiful coastline. Home to the glamorous Cote d’Azur, this region is the epitome of French luxury. With harbours lined with yachts and some of the most exclusive 5-star family villas with pool, a holiday here will be truly unforgettable. Take your little ones to the best beaches along the French Riviera and they will never want to leave.

Where to Go:

If you’re looking for child-friendly luxury accommodation near the glamorous resort of St. Tropez, book into Villa La Prairie. It boasts a prime location close to the coast and comes with everything you could ever need for your little ones. Or for a remote location but still within easy reach of Cannes, stay near the beautiful commune of Tourrettes. Other destinations you may want to check out for your family holiday in Provence include Nice, Marseille, Senas, Les Baux-de-Provence, Arles and Aix-en-Provence.

What to Do:

The first thing you’ll want to do when you arrive at the French Riviera is hit the beach, so grab your bucket and spade and get ready to have a fun day by the sea with your little monkeys. The beaches of the Cote d’Azur are fantastic for helping kids burn excess energy, and there are many family-friendly beaches to choose from. Other activities suitable for children include the beautiful castles of the region (such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Avignon), market days and shopping (such as the famous Isle sur La Sorgue), and scenic walks in the countryside (such as the walks near the village of Roussillon).

French Alps

The French Alps is famed for its ski resorts but there’s so much to do in the charming mountain resorts of the Alps – not just skiing! So if you’re travelling with little ones, you will definitely find something to keep them occupied. Whilst the skiing and winter sports season is open from December to April/May, there’s actually plenty to do all year round. So it could be a great idea to travel out of season.

Where to Go:

For a fantastic family ski holiday or winter getaway, we recommend the family-friendly resort of Les Gets (take a look at Chalet Perdu and Chalet Chambertin for accommodation). For seasoned skiers, Morzine and Tignes are also worth checking out too. And the smaller ski villages such as the commune of Châtel or Samoens could be the perfect destinations to relax and avoid the crowds.

french alps

What to Do:

During the winter sports season, families can enjoy skiing as well as a range of other snow-based activities. Including sledging, snowmobile rides and snowshoeing. Other fun activities in and around the resorts are hang gliding, bowling, climbing, snow cat driving and ice skating. During the summer, resorts such as Les Gets offer a wonderful place to walk, hike or cycle. Les Gets also features a number of events throughout the year so there will always be something to do together as a family.

Limousin

A beautiful region for adventurous families who want to get off the beaten track and explore the hidden gems of the French countryside. Limousin, with its rolling hills and traditional villages, can offer a wonderfully authentic travel experience. And with the baby and toddler-friendly villas we’ve found, you can enjoy this unique experience with your whole family. The area is definitely one of the most overlooked parts of France and whilst it doesn’t have the glamour of the French Riviera or the fairy tale appeal of Loire, it does have a beauty that is untouched.

Where to Go:

Some of the cities and towns that will charm you are Limoges, Bellac, Brive-la-Gaillarde and Aubusson, Guéret. Surrounding the Limoges and Bellac area are some of our lovely featured properties, all fully equipped and suitable for families with children. Chateau Ribagnac near Ambazac offers fantastic self-catering accommodation and there are horses, cows, sheep and chickens on the grounds (which the kids will just love). We also recommend Chateau Du Chiron which is north of Bellac and Vacances Vertes les Belles which is south of the region.

What to Do:

Whilst the Limousin region cannot compete with Loire for castles, it does have a few forts of its own which all make a great day out for all ages. Château de Jouillat, Château de Boussac, Châteaux de Saint-Hilaire et de Plas, Château de Turenne and Château de Ventadour are just a few of these. Take a tour of the south and spend the day in beautiful Brive-la-Gaillarde as well as the pretty surrounding villages.

Normandy

It’s home to Omaha Beach, the famous site of the D-Day landing. It boasts a dramatic coastal landscape steeped in history. And it’s one of the best places to taste fresh seafood in France. This fantastic region is one of the most underrated parts of the country, and we think it’s fantastic for families. Normandy may not have the glitz and glam of the Cote d’Azur or the fancy resorts of the Alps, but it’s got a unique kind of charm that will beguile you all the same. From the humble pebble beaches that resemble a classic British seaside to the maritime beauty of some of its coastal towns, there’s so much for the ocean lover.

Where to Go:

Experience Normandy’s seaside charms at Arromanches-les-Bains (stay at La Ferme de Longues), where you will be able to see the remains of the Mulberry Harbour, the temporary harbours during World War II. Or head further inland to the quiet villages and communes of Trun, Aubigny or Saint-Pierre-Canivet. Even inland, you will still be within easy reach of ports such as Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre and Calais.

normandy

What to Do:

There are zoos, amusement parks and theme parks suitable for toddlers, safari parks and other fun family-friendly attractions across the region. If you love art, history and culture then Rouen’s medieval old city is a must – home to Monet’s favourite cathedral and a fantastic place for walking around or a spot of lunch. For the kids, there are miles and miles of beautiful beaches including Barneville-Carteret, Houlgate, Trouville-sur-Mer, Etratat and Omaha.

If you’re feeling inspired to start planning your French adventure, then get in touch with us today and we can help you decide where to go.

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