If you think a visit to the South of France is better suited to the older and more genteel traveller, then it’s time to think again. Yes, there are a lot of wine tours, golf courses and tiny shops to stock up on gourmet cheeses, but the delights of the region go well beyond the more “mature” choices on how to spend your days away.
If you’re talking the kids on a family holiday to the South of France, not only will you be enjoying the Mediterranean climate and the fantastic French countryside, the whole family can also have some serious adventures that will (potentially) make your trip the best family holiday you’ve ever had. We’ve had a look around and found these fantastic family activities and a whole lot of things to do with kids in the South of France – and there’s bound to be one that everyone can agree on!
1. Get the kids into cooking
It’s not exactly the most adrenaline-pumped activity (which is why we put it first) but it still makes for a damn enjoyable day – and it might even get the kids giving you a hand putting the dinner on. Cook in France offers a great range of single day classes across Dordogne that are great for encouraging the little ones into the kitchen (and giving you a little bit of Continental inspiration too).
2. Get biking
It might seem like another fairly sedate suggestion (don’t worry, we’re building up to the exciting stuff), but a bike can bring a whole new angle on travelling around the South of France! They’re great for exploring far, wide, and even just down to the nearest croissant shop. If you’re driving, you might be able to bring your own bikes with the help of a roof rack, but if you’re flying you should check out Bike Hire Direct. They can deliver bikes direct to your villa!
3. Or take biking to the next level!
If your bog-standard pedal cycle isn’t really doing it for you any more (or maybe you’ve got kids that aren’t quite up for that 20 mile uphill route) you could always make things a bit easier with an e-bike. Available to rent from Sun-e-Bike, these effort-saving battery-powered bikes are the easy way to see the countryside – you can book trailers and seats for younger kids to make things even easier, not to mention the option to book entire tours.
4. Get soaked with a brand new experience!
It’s time to get a bit more physical! Slightly west from Nice you’ll find the Gorges du Loup, which makes a fantastic introduction to canyoning no matter your age. If you’ve never heard of canyoning, it’s the practice of exploring and navigating gorges and canyons. The great thing about the Gorges du Loup is that it’s more of an adventure playground than a course, and it’s so easy going kids as young as six are welcome. Active Azur has a good introduction and links to guides.
5. Or head underground for even more excitement
If canyoning hasn’t satisfied your desire for rock walls and flowing water (or maybe you just fancy something a bit more subterranean) then the Going Underground walk in Dordogne definitely will. Lasting between five and seven hours, the walk weaves above and below ground and takes in caves that have been used by our Neanderthal ancestors and as recently as World War II by the French resistance. It’s a truly eye-opening day out, and a bit of a sneaky history lesson to boot.
6. And if there’s one thing all kids love…
…It’s dinosaurs, and the South of France has a great little day trip for kids of all ages who are fascinated by prehistoric beasts. The Meze Dinosaur Museum near Montagnac boasts exhibits, museums and scale dinosaur replicas. Connected to (but separate from) the dino park is a museum entirely dedicated to the evolution of man, which is also well worth a look – even though it might not be quite as thrilling for the nippers.
7. Or head to a world of undersea adventure
Which is better – dinosaurs or sharks? Settle this eternal question for good by visiting the Meze Dinosaur Museum and then Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum in quick succession, then asking the kids a series of hard-hitting personal questions. Alternatively, the Oceanographic Museum makes a great day trip on its own, where you can experience the shark lagoon, take in tropical and Mediterranean species of ocean dwellers and even get up close and personal with baby sharks in the touch tank.
8. And for something a little fluffier…
Not every child likes their animal friends to have fins, teeth, or actually (if they’re picky) to be made from plastic. Remedy this by heading to Le Petit Paradis, which features a fantastic petting zoo containing Guinea Pigs, bunnies, pygmy goats and loads more. There’s a playground too, as well as pony rides and mini-golf to keep everyone entertained.
9. And to top it all off, take to the skies
Want the ultimate way to see everything the South of France has to offer? Enjoy in a totally unique viewpoint with a hot air balloon ride across the region! France Balloons offer tickets for kids as well as adults, and so long as they’re cool with heights there are a number of locations throughout the South you can take off from. After that, the sky’s the limit!
10. But there’s one last thing…
And it’s one thing that really does make a family holiday feel like a family holiday. Though a spot of underground hiking, baby shark stroking and hot air balloon-riding will certainly add a dash of glamour and adrenaline to your break, there really is nothing better than a day at the beach. The South of France has a fantastic range of beaches to enjoy with pristine white beaches, beautifully blue water and, hopefully, a clear day and a bit of sunshine. Building sandcastles is an international language, so grab the bucket and spade, get everyone covered in sunblock and enjoy a proper family day at the beach with paddling, rock pools and plenty of ice cream. It’s seriously one of the best family days out you can have.
There is much more that the South of France has to offer in each of it’s individual sub-regions: discover Dordogne, Aquitaine, Cote d’Azur, Midi-Pyrenees and Provence through the eyes of our travel experts with loads of activities, recommendations, tours to keep everyone entertained.