Our plan for your French family holiday includes laughter, animals, rides and a whole lot of fun.
Of course, a plan to holiday in France will probably include visits to its iconic landmarks, its historic and bustling cities, perhaps even some ski lessons for the kids. Here are three suggestions to add to all the fun…
Rent a villa
Holidaying with family requires you to have a great base from which you foray out, and one at which you can comfortably rest and recoup after each day’s exertions. Hotels don’t always work for families, which is why we’re commending you find yourself a gîte, or a holiday villa, in which you can self-cater and lounge without worrying too much about paying for pricey meals en famille or about other guests complaining about youthful shenanigans. The website www.franceforfamilies.com has many options to check out. Also consider Le Logis du Pressoir in the Loire Valley’s UNESCO World Heritage Site of Loire-Anjou-Touraine National Park, which was once a wine estate and today offers families a heated pool, fresh croissant delivery to the doorstep and a tree house for the littlies. In Brittany, the Le Bois Coudrais holiday community (above) has four villas with private patios.
Go on a cycling trip
A biking trip is a great way to holiday with kids over 12 years, especially since you can visit a string of great sites along the way. Pack light, of course, since luggage will weigh you down as you pedal along. Cycle slowly and take in the beautiful countryside, enjoying the cobbled streets, the quaint towns and the gentle rivers. Because cycling is popular in France, you’ll find great routes and infrastructure. An option to start you off could be a chateau hop across the Loire Valley, starting in Saumur, taking you through Chinon, Azay-le-Rideau, and ending in Loches. This will take three days and you will marvel at the chateaux built from limestone sourced from the surrounding cliffs. The website www.loire-a-velo.fr is great for planning a journey in the Loire Valley, and has a free audio guide, route map and list of accommodation available enroute. Or start in Bordeaux and cycle to Toulouse along the Canal Lateral de la Garonne.
Find some magic
France has some great amusement parks, which are guaranteed to always be a hit with the kids. Parc Asterix, a short drive from Paris, is perfect for children who love Asterix, and recreates Galle with six different worlds and a bunch of attractions.
Puy Du Fou in Les Epesses has dramatic recreations of Viking, Gladiator, Roman, English and French times gone by, but also the Cinéscénie every night, a tableau of events that has 1,200 people in its cast.
Les Machines de L’Île, on the island off Île de Nantes near Brittany, is known for its towering mechanical elephant, which carries people across the park, and a host of steampunk creations inspired by Jules Verne and Da Vinci’s worlds.
And, of course, there’s Disneyland Paris near the capital.