Thanks to the fact we hand pick all of our fantastic villas in Aquitaine, you can be sure that if you’re travelling with the kids you’ll get the perfect place to stay – whether they need a high chair or 24/7 wifi access for those important Facebook updates. Either way, getting out and exploring is the ideal way to take some fantastic family holiday memories back home with you, so we’ve found seven of the best family activities in Aquitaine to delight kids of all ages.
1. Trot away the day at Centre Équestre Marina
Why go: Kids are naturally drawn to animals. There is something about the sight of a furry, cuddly creature that makes their eyes light up. Even more so when they are allowed to interact with the animal. At this equestrian centre, which has access to trails in both the Landes Forest and along the ocean, 10 docile ponies await your little riders. Kiddies under six can safely try out trotting on a leading rein while older children can opt for beginners’ lessons or play cowboy for the day on trekking outings. Adults can, but don’t have to, merely watch from afar; they can also saddle up for an adventure on one of the stable’s graceful Anglo-Arab steeds, who are equipped to carry full sized humans.
Location: 5 Rue Marina, 40200 Mimizan, France
Book: Call +33 5 58 09 34 25
2. Climb the Cordouan Lighthouse
Why go: For many children, lighthouses are something they recognise from the pages of storybooks, and are synonymous with adventure, danger and even mystery. With Cordouan Lighthouse, the journey alone is reason enough to come. Kids will love boarding the boat for the exciting trip out to the remote sandbank where the lighthouse is located. And the adventure doesn’t end there. After disembarking, they’ll have to wade through shallow water to reach France’s oldest still-in-use lighthouse. Once they arrive at the tower, they can scale the 301 steps to reach the top. Parents will need to book in for a visit with one of the licensed companies who depart from Le Verdon-sur-mer, Meschers-sur-Gironde and Royan ports.
Location: 33123 Le Verdon-sur-Mer, France
Book: Online at Estuaire Gironde
3. Spot feathered fliers at Teich Bird Reserve
Why go: Common consensus dictates that birdwatching is typically the preserve of the silver-haired generation, but tots, tweens and even teens will find it surprisingly fun. Think of it as a real-life game of ‘Where’s Wally’ that will help sharpen your children’s observation skills. Group tours can be organised at the Teich Bird Reserve, which is located on the shore of the Arcachon Bay. During these excursions, you and your sprogs will be provided with binoculars to use as a guide leads you around this avian honeypot, helping you to identify the different species you see. Depending on the time of the year when you visit, you might see such species as white storks, white-spotted blue throats and grey herons.
Location: Rue du Port, 33470 Le Teich, France
Book: Online at Teich bird reserve
4. Ride the Petit Train de la Rhune
Why go: From Thomas the Tank Engine to the Hogwarts and Polar expresses, children seem to go loco for locomotives. Tiny trainspotters will be pleased as Punch with a journey on the Petit Train de la Rhune, an old-world funicular that chugs its way up a 1920s-era track to the summit of a Pyrenees peak. The journey lasts just 35 minutes – short enough to not strain junior attention spans. Expect far-reaching views of the Basque Country at the top and be on alert for pottoks (the sturdy Basque ponies that roams this region) as well as majestic griffon vultures, a foreboding bird of prey known to frequent these skies. Check the forecast before you depart for the train; the summit of Rhune is at 900 metres and cloud cover can spoil the vistas.
Location: Col de Saint-Ignace – 64310 SARE
Book: Online at Petit Train de la Rhine
5. Enjoy a play day at Kid Parc
Why go: With tot-friendly rides and paddling pools, this amusement park is sure to elicit whoops from your youngsters, particularly if your nippers are still in single digits. The rides, among them spinning cups, carousels and mini-roller coasters, are fun but still tame enough to appeal to the meeker members of your family. Kids will have a blast jumping around on the trampolines, toying around in the play areas and splashing in the shallow pools. There is also a miniature train here, which circles around part of the park, as well as dining and picnic areas for when hunger inevitably strikes. Bringing your whippersnappers here is one way to ensure a complaint-free day.
Location: 131 Route des Lacs, 33470 Gujan-Mestras, France
Book: Online at Kid Parc
6. Peer into the past at Ecomusée de Marquèze
Why go: This fascinating open-air museum, which comprises a series of historic timbered houses, has lots for younger visitors. A vintage-style train clatters through the site, and there is a scattering of old farm buildings here waiting to be explored. The houses are decked out with period furnishings and designed to represent the homes or workplace of different tradesmen. Inside each are costumed actors who relate tales of 19th-century life in Landes. Bulking out the child-oriented activities are traditional games like ‘Palet Gascon’ skittles as well as words games, puzzles and workshops (weekends and school holidays only) where little boys and girls can learn how to spin wool, prepare pastries and other old-style pursuits.
Location: Route de la Gare, Sabres, Aquitaine, France
Book: Call 05 58 08 31 31
7. Storm the castle at Chateau de Bonaguil
Why go: Many chateaux in the South of France are simply grand manor houses that, though undeniably beautiful, do little for young imaginations. This magnificent medieval stronghold, however, is the real deal having functioned as a defensive structure. Despite being partially ruined, Chateau de Bonaguil is still captivating, and awash with tunnels, soaring towers, caves, staircases, dungeons and battlements for curious young besiegers to nose around. Be on the lookout for the centuries-old graffiti, which brings youthful visitors even closer to its military past.
Location: 47500 Saint-Front-sur-Lémance, France
Book: Call 05 53 41 90 71 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for more Aquitaine inspiration? Find out how the locals make the most of their city in our authentic guide to Dordogne. There’s also out top ten family-friendly villas in the South of France if you’re looking for somewhere swish to stay that the whole family will love, and if you’re looking for something specific just ask our concierge team for help.