The focus in France is on living life to the fullest and enjoying things of beauty…architecture, fashion, art and some of the world's best cuisine. From sophisticated Paris and the swanky Côte d’Azur, to the breathtaking French Alps and beyond, there is much to explore in this proud and diverse country. I asked some popular travel bloggers to weigh in on their favorite towns, cities and regions to visit in France with kids. Need help deciding where to go in la belle France? Check out these 10 best destinations in France for families!
Paris – The City of Lights
Paris may have a reputation as being a city for lovers but when my husband and I visited with our daughters we discovered it is a wonderful family destination as well. There's something for everyone in Paris – history, art, famous landmarks, and fabulous food. Visiting the city's famous parks is a must when in Paris with children. Be sure to walk through Luxembourg Gardens and take your children for a spin on the old-fashioned carousel in Tuileries Gardens. A cruise on the Seine offers a unique perspective on the famous landmarks of Paris as well as a chance to rest weary legs after a busy day of walking. Ascending the Eiffel Tower and taking in the view over Paris is something your kids will always remember.
– The Spunky Travel Mama Lisa Goodmurphy, Gone with the Family
Dordogne – Castles, Caves and Adventure Parks
Located in central France, Dordogne is a lesser-known gem for families, with a huge variety of things to do and see. It has some of the oldest cave paintings in Europe, fantastic medieval castles perched over the Dordogne River, adventure parks that wow kids of all ages, and much more. Idyllic villages offer authentic self-catering accommodation options where families can live like a locals for a week or more.
– Amie O'Shaunessy, Ciao Bambino
Montpellier – Student City with Stunning Center Square
Located in the Languedoc region in the central south section of France, Montpellier is student city, with universities aplenty and a youthful, hip vibe. (It's also where I studied during my junior year of college!) The town’s large center square, la Place de la Comedie, is one of the prettiest you’ll find in all of Europe. The square is surrounced by cafes perfect for people-watching and is flanked by a gorgeous opera house at one end and the tree-lined Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, at the other. Parents and young artists will appreciate Musee Fabre, a small but impressive art museum featuring works from the Renaissance to modern day. Take a stroll along Promenade Royale du Peyrou to see a statue of Louis XIV on horseback, Port du Peyrou (the town's refurbished arc de triomphe), and a Roman aquaduct and water tower. For a break from historical and cultural sites, take the kids to the (free!) local zoo, Parc Zoologique Luneret to visit 128 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and more. In summer, the beaches just outside of town are filled with French and foreign tourists seeking sun and sand at a more affordable price than what can be found to the east along the French Riviera.
– The Travel Mama Colleen Lanin, Travel Mamas
Strasbourg – A Blend of French and German Cultures
Located just across from Germany along the Rhine River, Strasbourg is a picture-perfect, very walkable French city with a German accent. While in Strasbourg, be sure to do a walking tour of La Petite France. Arguably the cutest neighbourhood in Europe, you won’t want to put the camera down. Located in the Grande Île is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg, the second-tallest cathedral tower in France and the sixth tallest church in the world. It is undoubtedly Strasbourg's finest architectural highlight and a must see when visiting the city. Strasbourg is also filled with great restaurants and brasseries; be sure to try some local favorites like a tarte flambée, an Alsatian take on pizza. It’s best to wander the streets and find a place with an outdoor patio where the kids can play in the courtyard. Every morning, try a different bakery in the square for some of the best cafe au lait served with a kugelhopf, an Alsatian brioche cooked in the shape of a crown.
– Nicole Wears, Traveling Canucks
Les Arcs – Snowy Mountain Adventures
The French Alps make a beautiful destination for families to ski together and have fun, with breathtaking mountains everywhere, including the majestic Mont Blanc. My family loved our time at Les Arcs ski resort in Bourg-Saint-Mourice, Savoie. In addition to skiing, families can toboggan down the slopes on a run for children from ages 4 and upwards. Take a swim in the pool at Mille 8 in Arc 1800's Aquaffun, a water park featuring waterslides, fun fountains for kids and amazing views of the skiers and mountains beyond. Warm up in mountainside restaurants with traditional cheese fondue. End your day by gathering around bonfires for toasting marshmallows.
– Nichola West, Globalmouse Travels
Albertville – Olympic and Medieval History
Also located in the Savoie region of France, Albertville is best known as the site of the 1992 Winter Olympics, but the city's roots go as far back as 14th century medieval Europe. Remnants of both the Olympics and the age of castles still remain in a pastoral setting that is surrounded by mountains. The site of the Olympic stadium is now an open air park where citizens congregate for outdoor play. A winter olympics museum in the center of town features costumes, medal stands, and other collectibles from the games. The cobbled streets and narrow alleyways that were traveled centuries ago remain the same today in Albertville, giving visitors a snapshot into a medieval city. The Maison Rouge, a 14th century brick building houses a historical museum, is a highlight at the center of the city. For a full sensory experience, follow your nose to the Beaufort Cheese Factory where a museum display guides children in the process of making soft Beaufort cheese. Visitors can view the factory from the elevated gallery to see the large wheels of cheese at various stages of production. Samples and products of every kind are available to purchase in the gift shop.
– Jessica Bowers, Suitcases and Sippy Cups
Nice – Queen of the French Riviera
Nice is the main hub on the beautiful Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera. It feels small for such a large city and is very walkable. Basing yourself in Nice while you explore the surrounding areas (like Monaco and Villefranche) is a a great idea. Nice has beautiful Belle Époque architecture, miles of beach on the Mediterranean and lot to see and do. With 300 days of sunshine a year, the best things to do in Nice with kids are outside. Walk the Promenade Anglais and soak up the beachfront atmosphere before taking a dip in the water. Then visit one of the best playgrounds in the world at the Promenade du Paillon. Before leaving town, you must indulge in an ice cream from the famous Fennochio's; there are upwards of 70 flavors on offer at this French classic.
– Bethaney Davies, Flashpacker Family
Bordeaux – UN World Heritage Site City
Bordeaux is a city that will instantly make families feel comfortable, yet it still has that je ne sais quoi that makes it feel distinctly French. Take a historic self-guided walking tour, as the entire city center is a designated UN World Heritage Site (you'll pass plenty of carousels and big open squares for playtime). Also visit the Chartrons Market for amazingly fresh French food; the roast chicken and macarons were favorites of my kids. And don't forget to leave time to splash around in the water in front of the Place de la Bourse (or Royal Square). Located 300 miles southwest of Paris, Bordeaux is ideal for day trips to the beach or into the countryside for winery visits (several are geared toward families).
– Nicole Wiltrout, Arrows Sent Forth
Normandy – Unforgettable Lessons in World War II History
Normandy is a great place to teach and remember world history for adults and kids. While in this region, be sure and stop by the Caen Memorial Museum, which will give you the history lessons you need to know. Then take a trip to each of the American, Canadian and British beaches well known during the war: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Finally, you will need to go to the American Cemetery of Saint-Laurent, the final resting place of almost 10,000 soldiers who died in this region during the war.
– Cacinda Maloney, Points and Travel
Luberon – Ultimate in Provencal Charm
If you have ever read A Year in Provence or the other France-focused books by Peter Mayle, you have longed to enjoy the languid days and local warmth of Provence's Luberon, the primary setting of the series. And, if you are like me, you won't be disappointed with a visit to this region of hilltop villages. From its namesake river that encircles the town to fountains and watermills, water seems to be everywhere in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (translated as Island on the Sorgue River). This town is home to a darling antique toy and doll museum that will intrigue kiddos. Also in the Luberon, Gordes is a picturesque town cut into the side of a mountain with a gorgeous view of the verdant valleys of Provence below. Weave in and out of the town’s darling shops that sell decorative ceramics, packets of herbes de Provence, and other Country French goodies. Amid a fragrant field of purple flowers, the Museum of Lavender in Coustellet is worth a visit to purchase any manner of lavender-themed souvenirs.
– The Travel Mama Colleen Lanin, Travel Mamas
Book Your French Family Vacation
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Which of these destinations in France for families appeals to you most? Why? Let us know in the comments below!
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