France isn’t all art galleries and wine tours. There are many child-friendly attractions to be found here too from theme parks to outdoor adventures. Here are just a few ways to make the most of a France vacation with kids.
Take a trip to Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is one of the most popular attractions in Europe and is ideal for visiting with kids. Ideally a trip to this park is something you want to plan over a couple days in order to get on as many rides as possible. It’s also worth paying for a Fast Pass (especially if you’re visiting in summer) so that you don’t waste most of the trip waiting in queues. You can find many cheap campsites and hotels around Disneyland. Alternatively, you can pay extra for the convenience of a hotel on the park (these Disney-themed hotels can also help to continue the magic). Shop around for family deals online.
Try the other theme parks
Disneyland isn’t the only theme park in France worth visiting. Futuroscope is a sci-fi themed amusement park near Poitiers that combines rides and experience with some of the most cutting-edge technology in the world. Puy du Fou in Les Epesses meanwhile has many historical live actions experience that can allow your kids to travel back to various eras from the middle ages to the Roman empire. Then there’s Parc Asterix, dedicated to the famous French comic character, where you’ll also find plenty of rides. Other theme parks include Vulcania, Aqualand and Festyland.
Walk with dinosaurs
If your kids love dinosaurs, a trip to Parc de Prehistoire de Bretagne is a must. This 20 hectare park sports over 30 life-size dinosaurs hidden around the park as well as various scenes of cavemen hunting and camping. There are information plaques that can help you learn about each exhibit, all with English translations, and the park is set in a beautiful natural environment where the kids can play and explore their imagination.
Explore a chateau
There’s no shortage of castles in France to choose from. These chateaus are well-preserved and are great for kids, containing exhibitions on knights and medieval life. For fairy-tale castles with spires, you’re best heading to the Loire Valley where there are chateaus around every corner. Meanwhile, if you head to the south of France, it’s worth visiting the walled city of Carcassonne, where you’ll find a magnificent medieval castle. On top of castles, there are many other historic sights to be found such as the picturesque abbey of Le Monte Saint Michel – one of France’s most popular historic landmarks. Such attractions can be great for kids and adults alike, offering an educational experience whilst allowing you to recapture a piece of historical life.
Go skiing in the Alps
France is also one of the most popular ski destinations in the world. If you’re planning a winter vacation, why not head to the Alps and try out one of the many ski resorts? Many resorts have kids’ ski classes that can be great opportunities for making friends – meanwhile, you can do your own thing for a few hours whether it’s hitting the slopes or enjoying some of the Alpine bars. There are lots of family-oriented hotels and shared chalets to consider that comes with all inclusive food and drink, a pool and spa facilities. There may even be excursions that you can take to various attractions in the area.
Hit the beach in the south
Kids love the beach – whether it’s a chance to build sand castles or play in the sea. The south of France has some incredible beaches that could be ideal for a family vacation. Whilst there are plenty of beaches in the North in the likes of Normandy and Brittany, heading to the south will guarantee you better weather. Regions such as the Camargue have some great mediterranean beaches, whilst Grau-du-Roi is another popular spot for families. On top of being able to visit the beach, the south of France has many other attractions from historical cities to natural wonders. Aigues-Mort is a famous medieval city that is certain to fuel your kids’ imagination, whilst the Camargue salt flats have a mystical feel with their pink waters and flamingoes. You could even head to Nice and St Tropez – the playground of the rich – and marvel at the sports cars and mega yachts.
There are lots of rivers in France that are excellent for kayaking and canoeing. This can be a great family activity – you can rent out a private canoe or take a tour and meet other families. The Dordogne is a great river for kayaking with relatively slow waters and lots of sights along its banks including chateaus and bridges. The Archeche meanwhile is an equally scenic region for kayaking – here you can paddle under the mighty Pont D’Arc, which is a huge rock archway. A good kayak company will give you all life jackets and be able to give you to tips on places to stop and have a picnic.
Look for a kid-friendly hotel
There are many child-friendly hotels across France. Such hotels could come with family rooms and various facilities such as swimming pool, play area and table tennis area. There are even child-friendly chateau hotels that could allow you and the kids to experience the night in a castle! Try to find these hotels online and book them early so that you’ve got a good chance of getting a room. Such hotels are likely to be more busy during the summer holidays – if you’re able to take your kids away on vacation during school term time, you could be more likely to get a room and could even save money.
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Alternatively, stay in a campsite
Campsites can be a cheap alternative to hotels. You don’t have to stay in a tent – many campsites in France have mobile homes and fixed caravans to stay in with showers and cooking facilities. On top of this, some of these campsites may have their own restaurant and swimming pool, as well various attractions catered to kids such as children’s clubs, kids entertainment, mini-golf courses, play areas and even go-kart rental. Of course, not all campsites are child-friendly, so it’s best doing your research online to find the best ones.
Don’t be afraid to go dining
Don’t be put off French dining by thinking that it’s all too formal or grown-up – many French restaurants accomodate kids and offer kids’ meal choices such as burgers, steak and chips and small pasta dishes. Look for restaurants with outdoor seating and areas to play so that your kids don’t get too bored sitting at a table. That said, French dining could be a great way of getting kids used to restaurant etiquette. There are lots of French foods that kids will love including tasty sweet foods like crepes and ice cream and drinks such as hot chocolate. Look out for places that offer great desserts and hot chocolates to keep your kids happy.