This is a country of historic castles and fortifications, great food, markets, music – everything you could possibly want in a family trip!
Family Tours in France
In Paris go on a night bike riding tour outside the Louvre and Eiffel Tower!
Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame, markets and much more. How about a live concert in spectacular Saint Chapelle? Or a treasure hunt in the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay?!
Feel suspended between heaven and earth on a sheer limestone cliff in 11th century Rocamadour.
Kayak down the Gard River with your picnic all the way to 2,000 year old Roman Pont Du Gard!
The Loire Valley – chateaux (castles), cycling, riverboats and the amazing inventions of Leonardo da Vinci.
The historic cemeteries and beaches of D Day in Normandy.
South Western France’s gem, the Dordogne with its medieval cliff top castles, beautiful villages built into the sides of mountains, some of the world’s oldest and best preserved cave paintings and as much biking, walking and canoeing/kayaking as anyone could want – perfect for families!
- Night bike riding tour outside the Louvre and Eiffel Tower!
- Paris orientation neighbourhood walks with stops at some of the city’s many culinary gems.
- Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame, markets and much more.
- A live concert in spectacular Saint Chapelle? Or a treasure hunt in the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay?!
- Feel suspended between heaven and earth on a sheer limestone cliff in 11th century Rocamadour.
- The Loire Valley – chateaux (castles), cycling, riverboats and the amazing inventions of Leonardo da Vinci.
- The historic cemeteries and beaches of D Day in Normandy.
- The Dordogne with its medieval cliff top castles, beautiful villages built into the sides of mountains, some of the world’s oldest and best preserved cave paintings.
France Sample Itinerary
Day 1 – Paris to Avignon
After your visit to Paris take the TGV fast train to Avignon. Avignon is a classic medieval French city, with its ramparts and bridges. Once inside its imposing city walls, you’ll find a place bursting with life. Expect to find street performers touting their shows if you’re there in July during the famous theater festival. One could spend hours exploring the narrow alleyways of the medieval center but Avignon also has its fair share of sights! Avignon’s classic bridge, made even more famous by the well known song Sur Le Pont D’Avignon, no longer stretches all the way across the Rhone River but it is still a very imposing sight. Nothing better than learning some of the song and singing a little while strolling half way across the river (and back).
Day 2 – The Luberon
The Luberon might just be what most people imagine when they think of Provence. With its fragrant lavender fields and a choice of stunning hillside villages, this will be a wonderful day out in the countryside!
Start at the iconic Abbey de Senanque near Gordes. Although this 12th century abbey is an incredible building, it is most famous for its spectacular summer lavender fields which offer amazing photo ops. Get there early – the Abbey is no secret and by mid morning the tour busses start rolling in.
Gordes is the closest hillside village to the Abbey. It is famous for good reason as it offers stunning views of a typical Provencal hill village built up the mountain cliff. You may want to visit on a Tuesday as it’s market day!
Spoiled for choice of villages, we next suggest Bonnieux. The village has been lovingly restored and affords sweeping views over the Luberon. This is one of the loveliest places in the area to stop for a slow local lunch. You can walk the small winding streets up to the top of the village where you’ll find the 12th century church. From there you can see lavender fields dotting the surrounding landscape.
Day 3 – St Remy
Weekly markets throughout Provence are a regional highlight. St Remy’s weekly Wednesday market is an absolute treat. The market winds its way throughout the small town and is filled with wonderful local produce like cheeses, fruit, breads and pastries. And a LOT more! You could fill yourself up just by walking around tasting samples from the 100’s of vendors. It’s a feast for the eyes and taste buds!
After a morning filled with eating and shopping, how about a bike ride in the afternoon? St Remy has a number of bike shops where you can rent bikes for as long as you like. An excellent excursion is to ride over to St Remy’s small neighboring village of Le Baux de Provence, a tiny village in the Alpilles mountains and atop a rocky outcrop crowned with a ruined castle and offering sweeping views all around.
Day 4 – Cassis
Provence has a long coastline so it’s worth taking a breather from the touring and spending a day at the sea. We recommend heading to Cassis, a charming seaside town with a bustling central square surrounded by cafes and small shops. While in Cassis, the must do is to take a small boat trip to and through the ‘calanques’, the massive limestone cliffs that jut out into the sea and are probably the most impressive natural attraction in Provence. You could also hire kayaks (the sea is perfectly calm as the calanques have a quieting effect on the ocean current) or hike one of the cliff trails but a coffee in the square and a boat trip is also extremely pleasant!
Day 5 – L’Isle
Although you’ll be spoiled for choice of beautiful medieval and hilltop towns and villages in Provence, L’Isle has always been one of our favorites. This ‘island town’ is full of canals, bridges and water wheels and so strolling through the narrow streets and along the water just feels like a totally different and unique experience. Besides the cafes and restaurants one would expect, L’isle is famous for its antiques and galleries. Even if you’re not here on market day – dominated by antique dealers – it’s a wonderful place to stroll about.
When you’ve tired of strolling and shopping, rent a bike at any number of places in town and follow an easy 20km/12.5 mi round trip to Fontaine de Vaucluse. You’ll be biking mainly on peaceful, flat country roads until you reach Fontaine, a pretty village set along a river and teeming with outdoor cafes and a ruined 14th century castle. Once in the village you can take a short trail to the spring itself. It is all very pretty!
Day 6 – Pont du Gard
We’ve saved the best for last. If there’s one sight in Provence one has to see it’s this one – the 2,000 year old Roman aqueduct that towers across the River Gardon and which is one of the best preserved Roman structures anywhere. At 50 meters tall it is awe inspiring any way you see it.
We recommend doing the Pont on a Saturday. That way, you can start the day at the Saturday market in Uzes. Uzes is a spectacularly beautiful village and its Saturday market is one of the best and biggest in the area. It is massive, sprawling through the cobblestoned streets and squares. It is at once a grocery store, bakery, and florist, one hundred times over. You’ll find clothes, jewellery, linens, pottery, plants and of course all manner of local tasty products to sample and buy.
Once you’ve stocked up, head off to one of the kayaking centers near the river. The kayaking itself – especially in late summer – is wonderful. It’s a relatively easy and calm 3.5 mile jaunt down the river towards the aqueduct. There are little island banks in the river all along the way so you can stop and swim and enjoy your treats you picked up earlier in Uzes. At some point the mighty Pont du Gard will come into view. After the absolutely obligatory photo session, it is incredibly thrilling to paddle through the Pont and emerge on the other side where the kayak company will meet you. It’s an absolutely perfect day!
Later you will catch the fast train back to Paris.
France Trip Tips & FAQ's
What time of year is best to visit France?
France is an all year round destination. Summer is of course very popular and it’s a great time to bike in Provence or go canoeing in the Dordogne. But France’s famous Christmas markets are a reason all on their own to go in winter and France has some of the best skiing in Europe.
Is France a good place for a family vacation?
France is a premier family destination, amongst the best in the world. It is perfect for anyone and everyone of all ages! It offers such a rich treasure trove of activities and sights for everyone. People usually think of France’s famous cities and towns but it is also a wonderful natural destination.
What can a family do on a holiday in France?
It’s more like what can a family not do! Paris often makes up a whole trip with its spectacular monuments and buildings. Provence is full of magnificent villages and wonderful local markets. Brittany and Normandy have some of the best beaches in Europe and wonderfully quaint medieval towns while the Dordogne is full of spectacular cliff top castles. Alsace is perfect for biking through the bucolic countryside going from colourful village to village.
What is the food like in France?
French food is considered by many to be the best in the world. Just entering a French patisserie or boulangerie is an activity, a mesmerizing blend of art and pastries. It is almost impossible to tire of French food, often best sampled through the many weekly markets held throughout the country.
Where are the best places to stay in France?
Accommodation can include intimate boutique hotels, large North American and European chain hotels, and charming small inns and guesthouses often situated in remodeled medieval buildings!
Is France Expensive?
France is not a cheap destination. Yet it is not as expensive as often thought. For example some of your best eating experiences will be fresh produce, baguettes and cheese bought at local markets and these are relatively inexpensive. There is so much to be done in France without cost – strolling around in literally hundreds of small towns is wonderfully rewarding – and free!
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