How to Travel in France with Kids

Paris Snow Globe

With its size being nearly states of Colorado put together, France houses everything you would like to find within one country, from monumental mountains to stunning coasts facing different seas, and from medieval small villages to iconic large cities.

Although it is certainly hard to make a choice of where to go when traveling with the whole family, be aware that you will hardly decide wrong. With practically almost the entire country being child friendly, there is no doubt that there are more than enough places and activities that kids and family will adore and enjoy together.

Outdoor Activities

It is important to consider that, despite being a bundle of curiosity and energy, kids tend to shut down and get irked more than usual when being in an unknown place that is nothing like home, which is completely understandable. So, keep it fun, keep it versatile and most importantly, make space for all necessary breaks and you’ll see how smoothly everything runs.

Decide to take a swim at one of France many beautiful beaches, such as those in Normandy, Brittany, Nice or Côte d’Azur, and don’t forget to go on one of the many boat tours or take a look around and learn about the rich history often found in the old towns in these locations. Sail, kayak or snorkel in the turquoise waters off Corsica. Head out into one of the wonderful French mountains and camp for a few days, a very common activity amongst the French, or go skiing at one of the countless mountain resorts that cater to families.

Check out the magical historical villages of Les Baux-de-Provence, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle or Charroux, and if you have the luck of visiting during a warm, sunny day, fetch a few baguettes, cheese, fruits and snacks to prepare and enjoy a family French-style picnic while appreciating the fairy-tale looking surroundings. Visit the various landmarks and idyllic parks in the famous City of Lights, or go rollerblading by night; bike the streets of Montpellier, walk the pave ways of one of the well-known cities in the Western Provence or feed and run after pigeons in any plaza.

Another family fun option is visiting one of the many amusement or theme parks based in France, or a cool festival, be it Disneyland Paris, Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse, Fraispertuis City, Park Asterix, Terra Botanica, or the over-the-top Renaissance festival of Le Puy de Fou. Going to one of France’s National Parks also makes for a worthy wildlife watch experience: Párc National de la Vanoise, Réserve de Bisons d’Europe or Pointe du Hourdel are amongst the most popular natural sites for families.

Le Puy du Fou - Le Drakkar
Le Puy du Fou – Le Drakkar

Indoor Activities

Most Wednesdays, weekends or throughout France’s school holidays you will be able to find kids’ workshops being organized by most, if not all, major museums. Make sure to book and pay the corresponding fee (usually from €5.00 to €25.00) a few hours to a day in advance.

Another option is to check at the facilities’ entrance for children activities and/or rent an audio guide device and download the corresponding’s museum or monument’s apps for additional entertainment.

Aquariums are a magical experience for people all ages, but kids are simply in awe. Get to know Aquarium La Rochelle, L’Aquashow or the Aquarium of Biarritz and see and learn about some of the most incredibly amazing creatures we all share this special planet with.

Accommodations

There are various hotels, bed and breakfasts, guest houses and resorts that offer good options for traveling families; however, it is advised to book well in advanced to ensure availability, especially during the high summer season. In rural areas, it is highly recommended to check out camping sites, as these will ensure kids have endless fun time opportunities as well as to meet and make friends with other children their age. A very useful local site to help your family find suitable accommodation is http://www.familiscope.fr.

Another great option for families is renting appropriate accommodations on Airbnb, as it allows you to live in quieter areas that are in general, more or less secluded from all the touristic fuzz. Benefits linked to choosing Airbnb are that first of all they usually lower expenses related to food, as most of the times you have access your own kitchen and this allows you to cook your own meals easily.

Secondly, it allows for a more local experience; you will basically be living like a French resident for a few days or weeks, have local neighbors, you’ll get to go to a French boulangerie to buy your morning bread.

Thirdly, it can provide you a more private and cozy experience and atmosphere; you are no longer stuck in a 7- or more story building with a bunch of other visitors, but you rather have your own space. Cons, of course, are usually related to lack of services provided by hotels, such as cleaning, cooking and so on. In the end, just as everything else, your choice or preference will depend on what you and your family are looking for.

Transportation

The French Railway System SNCF, or high speed trains provide great connections between major cities and towns all over France; this is the option for comfortable and easy travel that can be fit within an itinerary and allow you no worries about directions; instead, focus on the nice views, while keeping an eye on the children. If you, however, decide to adventure on a road trip and have the advantage of making stops whenever and wherever, there are numerous car rental options that can offer what you need. Whereas for the tight-scheduled travelers, sometimes flying from destination to destination may be the best possible choice; there are a few budget airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, Hop, among others that you can check out.

French Restaurant
French Restaurant

Dining Out

Having the chance of enjoying some of the best of French cuisine does not have to be a hardship when traveling with kids. The majority of French restaurants offer menus for children, and when burgers and fries or spaghetti with tomato sauce becomes too boring, you can ask the waitress or waiter to give you half a portion of any other dish that is listed in the menu. To save money on sodas, you can ask for a free pitcher of tap water and flavored fruit syrup, which will usually cost you around €3.00—less than any other fizzy drink.

Although many French restaurants are kid friendly, the French are known to be a rather quiet culture when it comes to eating. They seem to take their time when visiting a restaurant and thoroughly savior their plates, making it more of a pleasurable experience. Therefore, kid friendly is far away from being a synonym of running around the place screaming, as you would usually find tolerated and accepted in other countries.

Photos:

Le Puy du Fou: By Padpo (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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