best places to visit in France for families…family friendly vacations!
best family ski resorts, best family beach vacations
France is an excellent destination for family friendly vacations, with lots going on to keep the kids happy and amused.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing or action packed holiday, you will find something to suit your style.
France has its fair share of amusement and theme parks, too. But you don’t even need to go to these (or spend a fortune on entrance fees!) to have a good time in France. Inexpensive family vacations are definitely possible.
Here are some ideas for family friendly vacations in France – where to go, where to stay, and what to do, as well as some practical advice, taken from our own personal experience travelling with kids.
When To Go
Or rather, when not to go, that is the question!
If you’re travelling with school-age kids, holiday time will most likely need to be scheduled around term breaks.
Still, it’s good to know when France has its own public and school holidays, so you can avoid the most crowded (and expensive) times of the year where possible.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make for your family friendly vacations in France is where you will stay.
Camping is very popular with french families and facilities range from basic to luxury so you’ll find something to suit your budget and taste. A few of the top operators include Canvas Holidays, Siblu and Eurocamp.
The Chateau des Ormes in Brittany is popular for family friendly vacations, and has an impressive range of facilities, such as kids clubs and a golf course. The tree-houses are a real hit (must be over 8 yrs).
If camping is not really what you’re looking for, self-catering vacation rentals are a great option, especially if you’re in a larger group.
You can stay in a complex type arrangement where you will be mixing with other holiday makers, or you can choose something a little more private.
You’ll find that many Bed and Breakfasts offer rooms with a cot or crib, and this can work well if you’re bringing a young baby.
For young children, we love Tots to France, which specialises in family friendly accommodation in France, and also provides advice on travelling with in France as a family.
Another popular website that families use is Holiday Rentals:
Self-catering holiday villas & apartments
Find the perfect holiday villa or self catering apartment on the UK’s no.1 holiday rentals site. Choose from one of 180,000 rental properties. Book direct from the owner for great value.
You could also consider staying on a farm (try the Bienvenue a la Ferme network) – and the kids will just love it – although we would recommend that you have a fairly good grasp of the language, unless the owner can speak english well.
Family Friendly Vacations: Where To Go
And now to the fun bit! Where are the best places in France for family friendly vacations? Best family ski resorts? Best family beach vacations?
Family Summer Vacations: Hiking in the Alps
Ski resorts in France have nannies, creches, childcare, and all sorts of activities to keep the kids entertained while you hit the slopes.
We love Ski Famille based in Les Gets, a resort with traditional style buildings (rather than tower blocks) – an hour away from Geneva airport. What’s unique about Ski Famille is that they provide childcare in the chalet where you are staying (rather than a centralised creche), and it’s part of the cost of the chalet (rather than a separate, additional cost).
How about seeing France by boat? Canoeing in the Dordogne is great fun and not expensive. There are lots of canoe hire companies, most of them between the towns of Souillac and Limeuil, where you can hire all the kit and kaboodle, and trips can range from a half day to a few days.
Or, if you have younger kids you might like to go on an organised boat trip. The most well known is Gabarres based in La Roque Gageac – they use traditional wooden boats (advance booking is recommended).
If you’d like to try the Riviera, the Port de Crouton Plage beach, in Juan-les-Pins, is in a protected bay with fine sand and shallow water – perfect for kids.
Villefranche-sur-Mer and Menton, also on the Riviera, are both quaint and colourful towns with child-friendly beaches. They’re a little less ‘party’ focussed and more down to earth than some of the ritzier resorts along this stretch of coast.
Our favourite family summer vacations would have to be in the French Alps. It’s is a wonderful way to spend some quality time together as a family, with fresh air and great food.
And the best part? These are inexpensive family vacations. Walking doesn’t cost anything – you just need a good pair of walking shoes! Accommodation will also be cheaper in this part of France because you’re not coming during ski season.
The experience of swimming in alpine lakes, breathing fresh mountain air and walking through lush meadows carpeted with wildflowers is hard to beat. And the kids will sleep well at night from all the exercise!
Samoëns, in the Giffre valley, is one of our favourites. It’s only an hour’s drive from Geneva airport.
Samoëns is a traditional, unspoilt village, but still with all the amenities you’ll need.
There are literally hundreds of marked walking trails in the area; there’s also fishing, tennis, an open air swimming pool, and golf courses. For the adrenaline junkie, you’ll find mountain biking, white water rafting, canoening, paragliding, rocking climbing, and canyoning…there are even adventure parks with ‘assault courses’!. All abilities are catered for so if you want a gentle ramble or a more strenuous hike, there will be something that suits all ages and abilities.
You could try chalet rentals through Peak Retreats (www.peakretreats.co.uk).