Family Vacations to France

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France – Family Vacation Guide

A family vacation in France can mean anything from sailing on the Brittany coast to exploring the dazzling Côte d’Azur to adventuring in Paris. There are great stretches of wonderfully accessible wilderness, vast natural parks and entire mysterious regions to discover. And, even if you get no further than Paris, you’re in good company: it’s one of the world’s most-visited cities.

Why Go

  • Room to Explore

    France is the largest country in western Europe and one of the least densely populated.

  • Natural Beauty

    France has five mountain ranges including the Rhône Alps and the Pyrenees. The Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts offer a host of seaside options, and the Côte d’Azur has year-round sunshine.

  • Traditional French Beauty

    France has seven domestic national parks and you can visit more than 40 chateaux in the Loire Valley alone.

  • World-Class Skiing

    Les Trois Vallées in the French Alps is the world’s largest ski area.

  • One for Biking Enthusiasts

    You can bike almost anywhere on the country’s more than 600,000 mile road network.



  • Rich History

    Paris offers a vast swathe of historic monuments, and France as a whole has a total of 42 World Heritage sites, including Mont Saint-Michel and the medieval walled city Carcassonne.

Where to Go


The French capital might be celebrated for romance, but it’s just as wonderful for family vacations. Vast parks and gardens stretch from the city center to the mighty chateaux of Versailles and Fontainebleau. Disneyland Paris is regularly voted best in the world by families. And the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Palais Garnier opera, Arc de Triomphe and Notre-Dame Cathedral are just a few of the legends that make Paris such a monument-rich city.

  • The Louvre is the largest museum in the world and home to the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Nike of Samothrace.
  • Paris Zoological Park reopened in 2014 after a $149,550,625 overhaul, and is now one of the best urban zoos in Europe.
  • The city’s luxury hotels are between the 1st and 8th arrondissements. Hotels in areas like Belleville, Montmartre and in the 19th or 20th arrondissement will stretch a family budget further, but it’s never cheap to stay in Paris.

Take me to Paris

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Brittany thinks of itself as more Celtic than French, and no other region is more steeped in mystery, myth and legend. But it’s also one of the most accessible parts of the country for ferries and a longstanding favorite for family vacations. Choose the southwest for the most sunshine, sandy beaches, historic towns like Concarneau and Quimper, excellent campsites at Bénodet and brilliant water activities all along the coast.

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Near-neighbor to Brittany as it is, Normandy couldn’t be more different. Beach vacations here are seaside classics, with large 19th-century hotels, elegant villas, wide sandy bays, chic promenades and pavement cafés aplenty. Choose the coast west of Calais for timeless beauties like Le Touquet and Boulogne-sur-Mer. And don’t ignore Normandy away from the sea – the countryside is lush and lovely, Monet’s house at Giverny is here and Lyons-la-Forêt is said to be the most haunted place in France.

Countryside and coastal campsites are best in Normandy and there’s a wide choice of apartments and beach houses close to Calais.

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Loire Valley

Rich and fascinating, the Loire Valley is very easy to work for a family vacation. In and around the charming city of Tours is a good base for visiting chateaux, touring dozens of ancient towns and villages, playing on the beautiful lake beaches and getting to grips with the region’s more eccentric activities, like hot air ballooning.

Chambres d’hôtes and gîtes are ideal for families in the Loire Valley, and they’re everywhere. It’s also another good area for camping and almost every site has cute vacation chalets to rent, too.

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Southwest France

Whether you want Landes’ astounding Atlantic beaches, beautiful Bordeaux, climbing and skiing in the Pyrenees, surfing at Biarritz or a little touch of Basque in your French family vacation, the enormous southwest has it all.

Stay outside the cities in this area for historic vineyard cottages, pretty beachfront apartments and fantastic coastal campsites.

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Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur

Glamorous resorts are just a tiny bit of this wonderful part of France. Head into the mountains and go adventuring in the wild crags and gorges of Verdon. Find ancient cities like Arles, Aix, Avignon and Nimes, where they don’t need a shoreline to shine. Even a short drive from Marseille or Nice takes you into a world of hill towns and tiny hamlets, where it’s hard to believe promenades and private beaches even exist.

Choose characterful hotels in Côte d’Azur cities or chambres d’hôtes in rural areas, while coastal resorts to the west of Marseille are good for families and camping.

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Some of Europe’s best skiing is found in these towering mountains. But several of the winter-sport resorts are now spring, summer and autumn playgrounds, too. Lake Annecy is amazing in July and August. Lyon is the regional capital and from silk corridors to Renaissance architecture, it’s right up there with the most mesmerizing European cities. Plus, it’s a lot less busy than Paris and a delight at Christmas.

French own-brand hotel chains like Mercure, Accor, Ibis and Campanile are the best value in cities like Lyon and Grenoble.

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What to Do

  • Puy du Fou, Les Epesses
    An epic historical theme park and the country’s second-most-popular attraction of its kind after Disneyland Paris.
  • Disneyland Paris
    This resoundingly Gallic Disneyland is almost as much of a draw for kids as Paris itself.
  • ZooParc de Beauval, Centre-Val de Loire
    France has a lot of zoos, but this one is always voted best.
  • Parc Astérix, Paris
    White-knuckle rides for teens and plenty of cute cartoon fun for younger kids.
  • Fontainebleau, Paris
    Versailles is a must-do, but don’t miss captivating Fontainebleau Palace.
  • La Dune du Pilat, Bassin d’Arcachon
    The tallest sand dune in Europe is one for kids to climb on the Landes Coast – there are stairs.
  • Carcassonne
    The medieval fortified city of Carcassonne looks more Disney than Disneyland, but its all real, right down to its World Heritage status.
  • The Camargue
    Herds of wild white horses and flocks of flamingos are just the beginning of the magic in this unique southern area.
  • The Louvre, Paris
    The world’s largest museum takes days to explore – join a guided tour for the best parts.
  • Eiffel Tower, Paris
    All that kids imagine and more. It takes a head for heights to make it to the top, but the views are spectacular.

Educational Value for Kids

  • France has several of the world’s best museums and art galleries. The Louvre Lensis one of the most exciting exhibition spaces outside Paris.
  • The French love camping and campsites are perfect for meeting local kids and picking up the language.
  • Catch a hop-on-hop-off boat along the Seine – it’s touristy, but still a great way to learn about the city.
  • Visit Château de Chambord – it’s the largest of the Loire châteaux, and easily the best fun for kids.
  • Rent city bikes in Paris and tour Park des Buttes-Chaumont at the weekend – take a picnic.
  • Buy Paris Metro tickets by the book and tour the historic stations – this mode of travel is the best way to get around the city.
  • Visit local markets in towns and cities – they’re colorful, often chaotic and a real education for kids.

Getting Around

Public transportation is excellent and well-explained in major cities. Several now have bike-rental schemes, too.

Driving is the best way to see the French countryside. Only use highways if you’re in a hurry, although the toll prices vary and can be expensive.

There are fast rail services across the entire country, but don’t expect too many scenic journeys – France is big enough to keep trains away from pretty places.

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