The most popular ideas for families taking a holiday in France are camping or staying in holiday resorts (both can offer extensive facilities for young and old alike). Here are five more specific suggestions for family holidays in France:
Beaches of Vendee / southern Brittany
The beaches of Vendee or southern Brittany. The extensive long sandy beaches on this part of the coast of north-western France are popular with both French and overseas visitor, and when you tire of beaches there are harbours and towns to explore (especially Brittany) and other activities laid on for visitors (especially Vendee).
The Vendee beaches such as Sables d'Olonne are ideal for small children. Suggestions: Sables d'Olonne or La Baule (more upmarket).
Gites and villas deep in the heart of the countryside might not be quite what your children are looking for - but can be a great idea for a family holiday if you choose carefully. The more popular destinations cater to all ages - so in the Dordogne for example there are reconstructed prehistoric villages to explore, various 'adventures in the tree tops' kind of parks (a challenge for Mum and Dad as well, you'll be pleased to hear!) and every teenage lad enjoys canoeing on the river.
With a bit of careful planning they will be so worn out at the end of the day that you can relax in your villa and look out across fields of sunflowers with a glass of ine in your hand while they fall asleep in front of the TV.
See Dordogne gites
Surfing and Biarritz
Older children and those willing to drive a bit further will enjoy the beaches further south near Biarritz. The Atlantic waves are more rough here so less ideal for smaller children (although numerous land-locked lakes with their own beaches will ensure their safety, so not too much to worry about while learning to surf should wear out the most energetic teenager.
When you tire of the sea you can explore Biarritz or head into the western Pyrenees for a change of scenery.
Camping - anywhere!
More popular each year, especially with families having children in the 4 - 12 year old age groups, camping holidays are no longer a fortnight in a wet tent (although that is possible if you prefer). On modern 'campsites' you are as likely to be in a mobile-home or chalet as a tent, and the larger campsites have a wide range of activities laid on for the children, along with a selection of swimming pools and water-slides as well as on-site restaurants and bars.
They are usually situated in places where other attractions are close to hand - historical towns, seaside etc - in pretty much all regions of France - so everyone should be happy.
Our recommended supplier of camping holidays in France is KeyCamp.
I wasn't sure whether to include this one - but Paris can be family friendly (better for children over about six perhaps). A few ideas include going up the Eiffel tower, around the city on an open-top bus, taking one of the famous flat-bottomed bateau-mouche boats along the Seine, or for the less timid perhaps a trip into the catacombs. Of course Disneyland Paris is also close by...
It is also possible to rent apartments at a pretty good price that are more flexible for a family than a hotel, and mean that every meal doesn't need to be a fraught or expensive experience in a parisian restaurant.
See Paris apartments
More family friendly suggestions...
What's so different about a family holiday?
A family holiday in France will usually mean one or more of the following:
- Children's activities, either formally arranged (e.g. trampoline courses 9-12 on a Tuesday morning) or informally available (e.g. a public swimming pool wheer all the children get to meet and play together)
- Something moderately interesting for Mum and Dad to do while the children are otherwise occupied!
- Things to do together as a family in the vicinity - Disneyland, the zoo, perhaps bike hire etc
- Sensibly priced restaurants or self-catering facilities - eating out every meal with a bunch of kids can get pretty expensive
- A family holiday usually needs to be a reasonable price, whether in France or anywhere else. This might also mean impy a reasonable driving distance from the channel ports or from Holland / Belgium for visitors arriving from northern Europe.
- A beach. Not always crucial but lots of family holidays are based around the beach, and luckily France has a very wide selection of great beaches to meet all requirements.
The key to success is to know what your requirements are, and your budget, and plan accordingly. One thing is sure - the choice of family holidays in France is so wide that there is sure to be the perfect holiday for your family here somewhere!