The Pierre & Vacances France for Kids Guide – Part One
Great food, a warm welcome for children (even in restaurants!), beautiful, sun-drenched beaches and well-developed ski resorts, France really does have it all when it comes to holidaying as a family.
Here’s our first instalment of the A to Z of the best things to do in France with kids to ensure a bonnes vacances, whether you’re soaking up the sunshine on the Cote d’Azur or speeding down the snowy slopes of Belle Plagne!
A is for Alpine Adventure
With excellent conditions for beginners, spacious nursery slopes and easy access to the more challenging runs, Alpine resorts such as Les Arcs and Meribel have a well-earned reputation for fantastic family ski holidays. From affordable self-catering options right up to luxury chalets there’s something for every budget and taste. There’s also plenty off-slope action from quad biking to bowling, snow scooting to swimming.
The Alps aren’t merely the preserve of winter holidays however. Forget images of the yodelling Von Trapp family – the pristine mountain air is more likely to ring with the sound of adrenaline fueled whoops as intrepid youngsters indulge in everything from climbing to horse riding, mountain biking, hiking, rafting and kayaking.
The mountains are also great for tiny tots, many of the shops that hire out ski gear in the winter will rent all-terrain buggies during the summer months, enabling you to hike to your heart’s content. Guided walks highlighting the flora and fauna are a great way to engage all ages whilst mountain gondolas give easy access to higher peaks so you can marvel at the views.
Hot deal: Prices for a one-week summer break in Serre Chevalier start from only €616 for a studio apartment sleeping four people at Résidence Maeva Chantemerle in August 2010.
B is for Brittany’s Beaches
Brittany has to be a top choice for families looking to enjoy a good value holiday without the hassle of hours spent in the car or at the airport. The endless, un-crowded sandy beaches of Brittany are a welcome and unfamiliar sight to us Brits. Fabulous crepes, plentiful seafood restaurants and a host of activities from sailing to kite-flying will keep everyone happy.
Top of the picks is the beach at Carnac, which is great for activities such as go-karting. Kids love the large, upright stones or ‘menhirs’ (think Obelisk in the Asterix books), arranged to mark burial sites dating back 5,000 years. Alternatively head to Benodet for safe swimming, with extra attractions like Petanque, bike riding and canoe hire.
Hot deal: Prices for a one-week summer break in Brittany start from only €432 for a studio apartment sleeping four to five people at Pierre & Vacances Resorts Port du Crouesty in August 2010. Children’s Club (3-18 years) is included in the price.
C is for Caves, Cheese and Canoeing
The sleepy area around Carcassone is home to a peculiar subterranean attraction, the caves of Roquefort. European cheese law specifies that only those cheeses aged in the caves of the little town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon can bear the name. This ripe and pungent cheese is made from the milk of the Lacaune, Manech and Basco-Béarnaise breeds of sheep, whilst the mould that gives Roquefort its distinctive character is found in the soil of the local caves. The largest producer, the Société des Caves de Roquefort, opens its cavernous cellars to visitors and is a must for anyone visiting this part of the Mediterranean.
More caves (sans cheese) can be explored in the Dordogne, from the prehistoric paintings at Lascaux to other natural limestone wonders packed full of stalagmites and stalactites.
The Dordogne is also great for ‘messing about on the river’ with plentiful canoeing and fishing to be had. Choose between the Dordogne and the Vézère rivers – the latter is smaller and less dramatic but has the advantage of being a lot quieter.
Hot deal: Prices for a one-week summer break in Cap d’Agde start from only €520 for a studio apartment sleeping four people at Résidence Loisirs Les Rivages de Rochelongue in August 2010.
In the Dordogne prices for a one-week summer break in Argentat start from only €320 for a studio apartment sleeping four to five people at Résidence Pierre & Vacances Belles Rives in August 2010.
D is for Disneyland Paris
In August 2008 Disneyland Paris was the most visited attraction in Europe receiving more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower combined. Disneyland Paris encompasses 4,800 acres and contains two theme parks, Disney Village, Imax and of course the chance to meet Disney characters.
For a more ‘French’ family theme park experience in Paris why not include a visit to Parc Asterix. The park was created in 1989 in celebration of the cartoon folk-hero Astérix, the tiny Gaul with the miraculous strength who manages to stave off the attacks of the mighty Roman Empire with the help of his trusty sidekick Obelix (and pet dog Idéfix). More than 1.6 million people a year visit this unique French park, with more than 85 per cent from France and half of those from the Paris area.
Other popular French parks include Futuroscope, a multi-media theme park located just north of Poitiers, counted as one of the top 15 theme parks in the world.
Hot deal: Prices for a one-week break in Paris start from only €90 for a studio apartment sleeping four people at Adagio Aparthotel Val d’Europe in Disneyland® Paris in April 2010.
E is for Easter Egg hunt
Throughout Easter the whole of Biarritz takes to the streets for a two-day Easter egg hunt and cavalcade through the city. Join more than 600 dancers and musicians for a traditional afternoon of song and dance which takes place in the town centre on Easter Sunday (4th April), before embarking on organised chocolate hunts (Chasse aux Oeufs) in the city’s numerous parks and outdoor spaces on Easter Monday.
Hot deal: Pierre & Vacances Residence Haguna is located in the centre of Biarritz; just 300m away from the sandy beach, and is an ideal base for exploring the weekend’s festivities. Prices for a three night stay between 2nd – 5th April 2010 start from €393 (£355) for a one bedroom apartment sleeping up to four people. All apartments include a fully fitted kitchen and living area
F is for Free children’s clubs
Each of the 11 Pierre & Vacances Resorts in France offers a range free kids clubs for children aged 3-18. Tots to teens can enjoy supervised-age relevant activities in Mini Club, Kids Club, Junior Club and Teens Club with Pierre & Vacances childrens clubs.
Clubs give kids and teenagers the opportunity to meet people their own age and get involved in sports tournaments and coaching, team games, and a number of other activities, including circus training, treasure hunts and drama lessons. For young adults, ‘Le Spot’ is available in addition to ‘Club Teens’ and is a room for teenagers only (no adults allowed!)
Paid for crèche facilities are also available through the Baby Club.
Hot deal: Pierre & Vacances are currently offering up to 400€ off their holiday resorts all over France. Find out more about the offer on the Pierre & Vacances resort page.
Check back soon for part two of our A-Z of family-friendly France!