Provence with Kids (A Dream Come True for Families!)

I fell in love with Provence long before I ever set foot on French soil. The lure of Provence from photos and literature led me to dream of visiting this region of France for years. When I finally traveled to Provence, I had my two children in tow. I was a bit worried that my expectations were too high and that Provence with children would be less than ideal. I needn’t have fretted, though. Not only was Provence even more beautiful than I had anticipated but also it proved to be a wonderful vacation destination for families. Here is what to do in Provence with kids!

Villes-sur-Auzon in Provence, France
The village of Villes-sur-Auzon in Provence, France (Photo credit: znm666,

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1. Explore plentiful Provençal villages.

Provence’s picture-perfect villages are great fun for families to explore. Each offers its own unique shops, cafés, and patisseries. We alternated days spent close to our temporary home in the village of Gordes with longer day trips to other areas.

We enjoyed the nearby villages of Joucas, Roussillon, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Oppède-le-Vieux, Ménerbes, and Lacoste. Every village was a little different from the others and all were just as pretty as you’d expect.

Little girl riding carousel in Provence, France
My daughter riding a carousel in Provence (Photo credit: Lisa Goodmurphy)

Meanwhile, larger towns in Provence offered more sightseeing options. Many featured old-fashioned carousels, which delighted my younger daughter. The beautiful Abbaye de Sénanque and its famed fields of lavender were also nearby.

My daughters were content to spend part of each day exploring the region before returning to our villa for an afternoon swim. Then our family enjoyed leisurely dinners at charming nearby restaurants. It was one of the most laid-back, pleasant holidays we have ever taken as a family.

Abbey of Senanque and blooming rows lavender flowers in Provence, France
Abbey of Sénanque and blooming rows of lavender flowers (Photo credit: StevanZZ,

2. Shop family-friendly markets.

Kids of any age will enjoy visiting the weekly markets that are held in the villages of Provence. My daughters loved shopping for food, especially bread and fruit.

After our trip, we laughed at how many vacation photos included my older daughter with a baguette in hand. She just could not get enough of the delicious freshly-baked bread sold at the markets! Perhaps even more fun was browsing the various stalls for little things like hair bands and other trinkets.

Teen holding a baguette in the market in Gordes, France
My teen holding a baguette in the market in Gordes, France (Photo credit: Lisa Goodmurphy)

3. Appreciate Van Gogh and other impressionist artists.

During a trip to Provence with kids, art enthusiasts will appreciate the opportunity to learn about the many impressionist artists who have made their homes here over the years, like Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh.

Look for a large Cézanne exhibit at Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence, where the French artist was born and lived his life. Also in Aix-en-Provence, Hôtel de Caumont features a large permanent exhibit of Cézanne’s work.

In Arles, art fans should plan to dine at the famed Café Van Gogh, which starred in the artist’s famous painting, Café Terrace at Night. My family also stumbled upon easels around Arles that held posters of the masterpieces that Van Gogh created, on the very spots where he painted them. At the time of our trip, Van Gogh was my younger daughter’s favorite artist, so she thoroughly enjoyed trekking around this French village in search of the easels.

Little girl with Van Gogh posted in Provence
My younger daughter loved learning about Van Gogh in Provence (Photo

4. Learn Roman history in Provence with kids.

Before planning our trip, I did not know there was such a Roman influence in Provence. My family visited the Roman Theatre in Orange, and a Roman Arena and Theatre in Arles. We also explored the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct that was built around 19 B.C. to supply water to the city of Nîmes and the surrounding area.

In the walled historic area of the city of Avignon, we toured the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes). This 14th-century Gothic palace functioned as the primary papal residence and headquarters of Catholicism during the 1300s. It was fascinating to learn about this unique era in the history of the Catholic Church. Plus, my kids enjoyed exploring these sites so much, they didn’t even realize they were learning history!

To get the most out of this experience, book a tour of Roman sites in Provence.

Pont du Garde Roman aquaduct in Nîmes, France
Pont du Garde Roman aqueduct in Nîmes in Provence (Photo credit: Lisa Goodmurphy)

5. Practice speaking French without fear.

A vacation in Provence with kids provides the perfect opportunity for your family to practice speaking another language. In Provence, fewer people speak English than in larger cities like Paris, so learning at least a few phrases in French is very useful. Plus, Provence is one of the friendliest places in France in which to practice your French!

Attempting to speak with locals in shops, restaurants, and markets helped my children realize that learning another language is an important life skill, not just a school subject. By the end of our two weeks, my teen was comfortable ordering from menus and was able to follow simple conversations. Meanwhile, my grade-schooler was quite pleased with her ability to use even a few words.

Want to learn un petit peu de français before you trip? Take a look at how Rosetta Stone will help your family learn a new language!

Villa with pool in Gordes
The pool at our villa in Gordes, France (Photo credit: Lisa Goodmurphy)

6. Live the good life at a villa in Provence.

Immerse yourself in French culture and live like a local by renting a villa for your visit to Provence with kids. Idyllic villas are available for rental throughout the region.

Having a home away from home means much more space to spread out. Plus, it is often more cost-effective than staying in a hotel. Families will appreciate having separate bedrooms for privacy, a kitchen for meal preparation, and especially a private pool for cooling off after a day of exploring in the heat of a Provençal summer.

The most difficult part for me was sorting through all the choices and deciding which village and which house we wanted to call home for our two-week stay. Take a look at the many gorgeous vacation home rentals in Provence via VRBO!

Your vacation in Provence will pass very quickly and, if your family is anything like ours, then you will wish you could do as Peter Mayle did and spend  A Year in Provence instead of just a week or two!

Ready to go? Book a tour of Provence now!

A beautiful street scene in Provence, France
A beautiful street scene in Provence, France (Photo credit: Konstanttin,

Explore more of France.

Want to explore France but you’re not sure where to begin? Most likely, you’ll arrive in Paris and it would be a shame to visit France without exploring the City of Lights. Read our Paris with kids tips to prepare for your French vacation.

After a few days of exploring museums and cathedrals, treat your kids to Disneyland Paris. Here’s what you need to know about visiting Disneyland Paris with kids.

There is much to explore in France besides Paris and Provence, of course. Take a look at the best destinations in France for families!

For a vacation in the French countryside, consider staying at the idyllic Le Chèvrefeuille Bed & Breakfast in Dordogne.

Provence, France with kids

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  1. Hi,
    I’m from México. I’m planning to spend a week (7-8 days) in the South of France with my husband and my kids (4 and 2 years old) in mid August.
    I was thinking in starting in Montpellier and end up in Nice. Probably spend a night in saint tropez as well.
    What would you recommend to visit in the middle and where to stay??
    Thank you

    1. Hi Olga – How exciting! I lived in Montpellier for a year during college. It’s such a hip college town with a beautiful central square. I loved the Luberon region of Provence with all of its wee charming towns. Aix-en-Provence and Arles are probably the most popular Provencal towns but Ils-sur-la-Sorge is gorgeous and so is Gordes. Enjoy France!

  2. J’adore! Provence is my favorite all time destination. We go there every summer to enjoy the warm climate, sunny days, lavender & fields full of sunflowers. Our fovorite region is the Vaucluse and the Luberon with magical towns like Lourmarin and L’Isle sur la Sorgue. Rent a holidayhome with a pool and your perfect vacation can start 🙂 Love it!!

  3. Hi Lisa,
    What village did you stay in? Did you fly to France and then take a train? I am going with my 8 year old daughter, my mom and my aunt in July toLondon and Paris and we are wanting to spend some time in Provence. I’m not sure if we will go Paris train to Provence then take a train to London, or london train to paris train to Provence… but I don’t want us to backtrack all the way to paris to fly home. What did you find the easiest way to reach provence?

    1. Hi Kitti,
      We rented a villa that was just outside the village of Gordes – it was very central for visiting most places in Provence. We were in Provence the entire two weeks of our vacation. We flew to Marseilles via Munich from Toronto and rented a car in Marseilles to drive to Gordes. I believe it took about an hour and a half or so to drive to Gordes from the Marseilles airport. Perhaps you could fly to London, train to Paris, train to Provence and then fly home from Marseilles.

    1. Hi Ryan – Lavender blooms in Provence from May or June to July or August. I went one year in August and our tour guide was certain there would be no lavender still growing in the fields but we lucked out and were able to see (and smell!) the beautiful purple blooms.

    2. Hi Ryan – it’s one of those things that isn’t entirely predictable. We arrived in Provence for our two week vacation on July 31st. The lavender had bloomed early that year and had already been harvested so we missed seeing it. I intend to go back someday to see the blooms!!

  4. Oh, I forgot Fontaine de Vaucluse, deffinitely do the Kayacking there, Kayack Vert is the better of the two, and go down the river to Isle sur la Sorgue, Very nice when its hot!

    And when it isnt the Acrobranch (climbing around in trees, zip wires, etc) is a lot of fun, damn tiring and a good way to keep fit! 🙂

    Fontaine also has caves, an old paper mill, and a good museum to the war. A lot of people think its a bit tacky and touristy, but ignore them and go, its a rich place for tourist activities.

  5. If your kids like nature (there are a lot of walks in the hills), old villages and markets, then they will like provence. If they like entertainment that’s more aimed at kids then it doesn’t offer much. Here is my list, as a long term resident, with family:
    1) The ‘Village des Automates’ is very missable,
    2) The OK Coral park (off the autoroute that goes to Martiges) is quite good for the price. The attractions give enough of a thrill.
    3) The new (2016) water park at Monteux is good. (The Karting there is also good, if a bit expensive, but it always is expensive)
    4) The Maze near Malmort is OK.
    5) The big caves up in the Gard (take in Pont du Gard at the same time), Grotte du Salamander, are impressive.
    6) For beaches the Carmargue is the best. Sand and plenty of parking (unlike anywhere on the Cote d’Azur. Saintes Marie de la Mer is the place to go there. Climb on the church roof, take in the bull run, or some French bull fighting (the bull is not killed, but the men stand a very good chance of being maimed!), and the Spanish vibe (a lot of Spaniards moved to the Carmargue to look after the bulls and it has a Spanish feel to the place), go horse riding (avoid sunset, the mosquitoes will eat you alive).
    7) And if you are there in winter, get some skiing in!

    So thats about it for kids, it really isnt that great.

    1. Thank you for the tips, Matt! I assume you’re joking that Provence isn’t that great for kids?!

  6. Lisa – great website. my wife and i are going to france for 2 weeks this june. we have one week to do whatever we want and we are thinking a villa in provence. where did you actually stay in provence (town?) and did you rent a car to travel or use other transportation (?)? much appreciated

    1. Hi Adam, we rented a villa in Gordes from an American couple via HomeAway – it was the ideal location for us to explore the area. We were there for 2 weeks and rented a car while we were there so we could do some day trips to explore the region. We visited Arles, Avignon, Orange, Aix-en-Provence and even travelled as far as the Cote d’Azur one day. Provence is a beautiful region of France – I’m sure you and your wife will have a wonderful time!

  7. Aloha,

    What a great post and a nice visit back to Provence, it has been awhile for me and it was nice revisiting some of these attractions and what a great way to do it by staying in a home rental, great idea.


  8. This sounds so amazing! I think my 8 yo son would like the Van Gogh points too. We are headed to Paris in July for only one night as a side trip from London. Now I wish we could add Provence! But Paris will be lovely, too, I’m sure. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Steph! Paris is indeed lovely! 😉 It’s difficult to see very much in a day but if you think that your son might be interested in an art museum then consider visiting Musée d’Orsay – it features the impressionists and is small enough for a quick visit. Both of my daughters love it! I wrote about our favourite three museums in Paris in this article on Travel Mamas which you may find usefu.

      Have a great trip!!

      1. He really only wants to see the Mona Lisa and the Eiffel Tower, so I’m hoping that’s a short enough list that we won’t have to spend the whole day in lines. I will check out your museums post, too in case we do end up with some extra time! 🙂 Thank you!

      2. Steph – my younger daughter was 8 when we visited last year and the Mona Lisa and the Eiffel Tower were her top priorities as well. 🙂 I was afraid that she would be disappointed by the Mona Lisa but she was thrilled. I wrote a post on my site about how excited that Emma was to come face-to-face with the Mona Lisa – it was such an exciting moment for her!

        Be sure to get to the Eiffel Tower first thing – my teenager slept in and we waited for a couple of hours in line as a result!!

      3. Good to know! I am still researching whether to find an English-speaking walking tour or just buy the tickets myself and do this on our own. We don’t know any French and some inside intel is always fun. Did you buy your Louvre and Eiffel Tower tickets in advance?

  9. Please let us know what sites you looked into to find the rental in Gordes. Would you recommend a place in Arles?

    1. Ellen, we found the villa that we rented on Home Away. The couple that we rented from lived in Michigan and I was able to speak to them on the phone before we agreed to the rental which made me feel that much more comfortable as it was our first experience renting a private home. They employed a local property manager who met us upon arrival and helped with anything that we needed.

      Arles is very nice but it is a city with a population of somewhere around 50,000 I believe. I prefer the smaller villages but that is really a matter of personal opinion.

      1. Hello- I live in New York and will be visiting Provence at the end of August for a week with my 2 young kids.
        Could you recommend the villa you stayed in please?

      2. Hi Priya,

        The villa that we stayed in was called Chemin des Reves and it was located just outside the hilltop village of Gordes. There are a couple of photos of it on the original article that I wrote on my website shortly after our trip. My daughters still say that this was one of the best vacations they have ever been on and it has been 8 years since we visited – they loved the villa!

        We rented the villa via HomeAway but I believe that it was also listed on VRBO and on the property manager’s website. If you scroll through the reviews on HomeAway you will also find the review that I wrote after our visit. You should check availability as soon as possible because summer months are the most popular – we booked several months ahead of our trip.


  10. Congratulations, Shanna!! Don’t worry about traveling with kids – it can definitely be done! I think that you can take kids anywhere that you want to go so long as you slow down and find a few kid-friendly things to do along the way. And kid-friendly doesn’t have to mean amusement parks – it can be as simple as having a picnic in a park or pausing to ride a carousel in a European village. Best of luck!

  11. I LOVED Provence…it was one of my all time favorite trips. I am happy to hear that it sounds like Provence will be as rewarding a destination with children as it was before. I love the idea of renting a house…it sounds like a such a relaxed way to see things and I think we will be doing a lot more travel in this style once our first child is born in August.