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Best French beaches for families with small children

March 31, 2011 10:25 am
posted by Rebecca

From the wide, sandy beaches of the north to the wind-swept coastline of the West and sun-kissed shores of the South, France is blessed with a bounty of beautiful beaches.

But it pays to be in the know when planning a holiday with young children…is the nearest beach a hike down steep cliff paths, the sea a bubbling cauldron of tempestuous tides and the only place to eat an expensive bistro?

Fear not bathing beauties as we’ve done our research so you don’t have to.  From calm waters to easy access, fine sand castle-building matter to rich rock pool pickings, here’s our guide to the top toddler friendly French beaches.

Brittany beaches for… sandcastle competitions

Visitors to Brittany are spoilt for choice in terms of family-friendly beaches.  Top picks for sandcastles and safe swimming include:

La Grande Plage de Goas Lagorn, Baie de Lannion (or ”La Plage de Tresmeur”) – this sheltered, West facing beach offers suitably safe swimming and a mile of white, un-crowded sand.  The nearby marina is home to a range of eateries including child-pleasing creperies.

La Grande Plage de Goas Lagorn

The Quiberon Peninsula – this coast, known as the ‘Cote Sauvage’, tends towards wilder beaches, but La Plage Conquel has one wild side facing the Atlantic and another overlooking sheltered Quiberon Bay.  This sandy beach is ideal for children, with plenty of shallow rock pools to explore at low tide.

La Plage Conquel

Plage du Trez, Benodet – affording a pretty, sandy beach, and easy access as well as excellent facilities, Benodet is often cited as one of the most family friendly destinations in the region.  The heart of the resort is Plage du Trez, which is supervised by life-guards during summer months and has a large variety of places to buy snacks and drinks just behind the beach.  Nearby Plage du Letty and Plage Saint Gilles are ideal for rock pooling.

La Grande Plage, CarnacCarnac’s South facing beaches are beautifully sheltered with miles of soft sand and pretty dunes at the eastern fringe – a classic seaside resort.

Pierre & Vacances accommodation in Brittany

La Grande Plage, Carnac

Normandy beaches for… the white sands which inspired Monet

Described as ‘non-stop beach’ the coast of Normandy offers a plentiful selection of fabulous sandy beaches – many rich in World War II associations, from Utah to Omaha, Juno to Sword.

Trouville Plage – immortalised by Monet, quieter and more relaxed than neighbouring Deauville, Trouville offers an immense sweep of white sand, a great beach for families with younger children.

The Boardwalk on the beach at Trouville

For more relaxed, inexpensive options head to Houlgate or St-Germain-sur-Ay. Houlgate is a nice, compact, clean resort whilst St Germain offers a vast beach, perfect for picnics (but worth noting that part of the beach is reserved for naturists, so pick your spot carefully!).

The department of Manche is blessed with 330 kilometres of stunning coastline, with the greatest number of European blue flag beaches in France.  Sciotot Beach at Les Pieux offers fine sands and a rock pool for paddling in.

Pierre & Vacances accommodation in Normandy

Sunset on Sciotot Beach

Aquitaine beaches for… beachcombing and crab hunting

Renowned as a surfing Mecca for the wild Atlantic waves, Aquitaine also has some hidden gems for families with tiny tots.

Saint-Jean de Luz – adjacent to the charming town by the same name and on the border with Spain, Saint-Jean de Luz beach is compact, pristine and perfect for seaside thrills.  There are even bathing tents for hire so you and your little ones can escape the sun.

Saint-Jean de Luz

Just around the coast, Socoa Beach, beneath Socoa Fort, is a tranquil spot for undisturbed beachcombing and crab hunting.

Lake Biscarosse – of course, beaches aren’t restricted to coastal areas.  The lakes of Landes offer some excellent beaches for warm, shallow water and shady pine trees.  There’s the Lake of Cazaux-Sanguinet to the North and the Lake of Biscarrosse-Parentis to the South

Children looking out at Lake Biscarosse

Moliets Plage – a golden sandy beach meets pine forest and lake, this resort is popular with locals and visitors alike, the beach bordered by the Courant d’Huchet nature reserve.

Pierre & Vacances accommodation in Aquitaine

Mediterranean beaches for… hidden gems and blue lagoons

The French Riviera, blessed with year-round sunshine, holds an eternal appeal for holidaymakers.  You’ll have to go a long way to beat the bevy of beaches available on France’s Mediterranean coast.  Here’s just a few of our favourites.

Port de Crouton Plage, Juan-les-Pins is something of a hidden gem.   The fine sand slopes gently towards the calm shallows on this tranquil beach, a world away from the busier main strip at Juan-les-pins.  The entrance to this sheltered cove can be discovered via the public pathway through the Hotel Belles Rives or 300 yards beyond Le Meridien Hotel.

Villefranche-sur-Mer – a charming, good old fashioned seaside town, far less crowded than much of the Riviera.  There are two beaches to choose from, Plage des Marinières and Plage de la Darse.  Marinières is the big, sandy beach, whilst la Darse is a mix of sand and pebbles.  Both are popular with families but far less crowded than other beaches surrounding Nice.


Plage de la Gravette, Antibes – sheltered by a breakwater, forming a safe enclosure for swimming,  the ‘Old Antibes beach’ is compact and sandy.

Plage de Notre Dame, Ile de Porquerolles – sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile to discover idyllic beaches.  This is such an instance.  The Ile de Porquerolles is the largest of the group of islands known as the Iles d’Hyères or ‘Les Iles d’Or’, the Golden Isles.  Eucalyptus and pine scent the air and the crescent of white sand is framed by aqua blue water.  Not for the faint hearted, the beach is a 20 minute cycle ride from the ferry, so only tackle this if little legs are up to a big adventure.  Whilst there are no facilities in the immediate vicinity, pack a picnic and you’ll enjoy a day in paradise.

Plage de Notre Dame, Ile de Porquerolles

Plage de L’Estagnol, Bormes-les-Mimosas – one of the most beautiful white sandy beaches on the Med, the big draw for L’Estagnol is the quarter of a mile long sand-edged lagoon, which provides a haven for safe swimming.  That and the chance to spot the Sarkozys – the president of France has use of the Fort de Brégançon.

Pierre & Vacances accommodation on the Mediterranean



P&V: His ‘n’ Hers Holidays in Normandy

May 29, 2009 1:07 pm
posted by Simon

For him and for her, Normandy has it all. There are plenty of things you can enjoy together like strolling the promenades, relaxing on the beaches and exploring the very best of the local restaurants. And when he heads for one of the golf courses, she can hit the chic shopping or opt for a pampering treatment at a spa.


Doing Deauville
Deauville has grown from humble beginnings into a stylish resort town famous for its elegant high life. It was the racecourse that first brought Parisian aristocrats here, and racing is still a very popular sport throughout the entire region.


Elegant villas, chic shops and stylish cafes, restaurants and bars are the hallmarks of the town. Take a stroll along its wide beachside promenade and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped straight out of the pages of a belle époque novel.


During the summer it’s all beach and parasols, and in September you may bump into a Hollywood movie star on their way to the casino, here for the annual Film Festival.

Try out Trouville
Trouville rubs shoulders with Deauville just across the Touques River, but in contrast it’s far less formal betraying its roots as a fishing village. Here, you’ll find bustling quays, busy markets and narrow streets full of quaint shops to explore.


However, the one thing Trouville does share with Deauville is a very impressive beach. For the more actively inclined there’s also sailing and horse riding. Nothing beats a good early morning gallop along the beaches in Normandy.


Arty Honfleur
Honfleur is another delightful harbour town which as well as attracting holiday visitors has long been a magnet for famous French artists, drawn by the scenic views and beauty of the light. It made a big “impression” on Monet, Renoir and Cezanne amongst others.


So it’s no coincidence there are 15 art galleries in the town. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see wealthy yachtsman thronging the town squares and pavement cafes enjoying the fresh seafood rather than struggling artists. But the atmosphere is still as charming as it was a hundred years ago.


Love Le Touquet
They call Le Touquet “Paris bythe-sea” and you’ll quickly see why. It may not have an Eiffel Tower but otherwise it certainly looks the part as many of Frances’s most famous architects have erected buildings here.


During the 1920s Noel Coward and his smart set of literary chums took over at weekends, but now Le Touquet is popular with couples from all over the British Isles who are drawn by the beach, the wild dunes, casino, and walks amongst the elegant villas of a bygone era in shady woodlands.


The beach at Cabourg
Considered by many to be the most spectacular beach on the entire Normandy coast, Cabourg is also famous for two other things: its racecourse, and that the famous French writer Marcel Proust used to visit here.


Proust came here for his health, but today’s visitor can enjoy a great deal more including golf, tennis, mini golf, sailing, horse riding and there’s also a swimming pool and a casino.


And if you fancy a bet of a different kind, the racecourse is just opposite the Mercure Hotel.

Chic boutiques

You’ll find shopping with a certain “je ne sais quoi” in all the chic resort towns of the Normandy coast, and the area continues to attract the stylish and the fashion conscious, just as it always has. All a girl has to do is find something else for him to do for a few hours.


Golf is played widely throughout Normandy and to all standards. The Deauville area has some of the best courses, including Champ de Bataille, known as Normandy’s Wentworth.


Many of the larger resort hotels have spas that are open to the public. The Algotherm Thalassotherapy Spa in Deauville is especially well recommended being centrally located and offering a wide range of treatments.


Getting there
Normandy has more cross-channel ferry routes than any other region in France and is easily reached from the UK via ferry from Portsmouth, Newhaven and Poole.

Brittany Ferries prices Portsmouth to Caen and Poole to Cherbourg are as follows:
17 July – 27 August: £142 return based on a car plus 2 and a stay of up to 5 days

Portsmouth to Cherbourg:
1 July – 24 July: £152 return based on a car plus 2 and a stay of up to 5 days

Air France, Ryanair and Sky South also operate regular flights to the region from a number of UK airports.

Ryanair return flights London (Stansted) to Dinard and London (Luton) to Brest from £99.

Where to stay
European self-catering accommodation specialist P&V will op
en its brand new four star property, Residence MGM de Houlgate, overlooking Normandy’s Deauville Bay in August 2009. Those who book now for a stay during the residence’s first month will receive a discount of up to 20 percent.


Situated 600m from the beach, Residence MGM de Houlgate features 82 apartments and 44 cottages, many with capacity for up to eight guests. All properties are self-catering with fully equipped kitchens, WiFi Internet connections and LCD TVs. Onsite facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, health spa and children’s activity area. Find out more about the property by visiting P&V’s website,,.


PV-holidays have also just launched the Beat The Euro campaign, where customers can claim at least an extra 22% discount and in some cases even up to 45% off on their summer holidays. To help out families the discount can also be used on peak dates during school holidays. To claim your discount, customers need to visit here:

And enter the code 8258

PV-Holidays have also just launched their golf brochure for 2009. If you are considering a golf holiday in France please click on this link to view the brochure and find out more information.


PV-Holidays: Holidays for Boys: Normandy

January 14, 2009 3:02 pm
posted by Simon

Camembert, cider, charming fishing ports and sheltered bays are just a few of Normandy’s star attractions. Yet for those with a passion for history and war stories, a tour of Normandy’s famous ‘Landing Beaches” offers a seaside break with a difference.


Whether you’re looking for a boys’ own holiday adventure or would like to trace the footsteps of your grandfathers or great grandfathers who fought in WWII, a tour of the museums, memorials and military cemeteries along the northern French coast makes for a genuinely unforgettable experience.

History watch

The Allied Forces’ Operation Overlord began on the 6th June 1944, when in just one day 130,000 troops landed on the Normandy coast at Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah beaches – a mass deployment of troops famously known as the D-Day Landings.

First an air-based landing took place very early in the morning, with both British and American troops being parachuted in to occupied France, followed by a sea-based invasion.


Despite a great deal of lives lost (50,000 in Calvados alone), these battles represented the turning point of the Second World War in Western Europe.

Museum pieces

Start your history tour in the town of Caen – the gateway to the beaches – at The Memorial Museum (Esplanade Dwight-Eisenhower). Officially named Le Mémorial de Caen, un musée pour la paix – “The Caen Memorial, a Museum for Peace,” this modern, hi-tech building is built over what was the Command Centre of the German defences of Normandy after D-Day. Widely considered to be the best World War II museum in France, since its opening in 1988, it has become the second most visited site in Normandy after Mont-St-Michel.


Here, you’ll discover all the key events leading up to and after D-Day and the Battle of Normandy via compelling interactive exhibitions and two powerful video presentations.

The museum also runs daily guided tours of the D-Day beaches by minivan, which depart from the museum and Caen station. Visit here for information and reservations.

Normandy Beaches

If you’d rather take an independent tour, hire a car and follow the coast road to Sword, Juno, Gold and Omaha beaches – and Utah beach is just a little further afield.


Walking on the Normandy Landings beaches, and reading the inscriptions on the headstones in the vast cemeteries containing thousands of graves, laid out in well tended lines is an extremely moving experience.


Mulberry Harbour

Just off Gold beach at Arromanches you can see the remains of the floating ‘Mulberry Harbour” used during the landings. Mulberry Harbour was towed from England and erected on the floor of the seabed after the beachheads had been secured. Many of the iron floats still lie on the beach today, as well as the harbour itself.


At the nearby 6th June 1944 Museum you can discover how this amazing feat was planned and executed, including how the floating roads took the lorries out to load up from the ships. The museum has an excellent scale mode of Mulberry Harbour and shows two good films showing incredible live footage of the invasion.


At Arromanches, you’ll also find the fabulous 360 Degree Cinema. This cinema gives a graphic idea of the events of 6th June 1944 and the battles that ensued. Using original footage and sound, you can almost feel like you’re in the thick of the fighting.

Visit The Pointe du Hoc and you’ll see that the cliffs are still pitted with German bunkers and shell holes. These cliffs were captured using London Fire Brigade ladders to ascend the sheer cliffs under enemy fire.

Omaha Beach

Known as the ‘beach of blood” Omaha Beach was one of the key battlegrounds of WWII. American Allied forces showed incredible bravery in securing Omaha Beach, the events of which have been immortalised by Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan”, which tells the story of how the beach was captured and the ensuing Battle of Normandy.


The nearby American Military Cemetery is a poignant memorial to the fallen soldiers, and on the beach itself history buffs with metal detectors still find shrapnel, buttons and bullets.

Other attractions
Make your way to Pegasus Bridge, where you’ll find Cafe Gondrée, the first house to be liberated by the British soldiers during the night of the 5th to the 6th of June 1944. It’s still a bar today and features a small exhibition of photos and memorabilia.


Bayeaux, renowned for its famous tapestry was also the first city to be liberated after the Normandy Landings. The Battles of Normandy Museum in Bayeux brings history to life with 21st century technology to offer a better understanding of this decisive action in the liberation of Western Europe.

Situated in the outskirts of the town, The Allied Cemetery Bayeaux is the largest Commonwealth cemetery of the Second World War in France and contains 4,144 Commonwealth burials, 338 of them unidentified. There are also 504 war graves of other nationalities, the majority German. The Bayeux Memorial stands opposite the cemetery and bears the names of more than 1,800 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died in the early stages of the campaign and have no known grave.

Where to stay
The charming resort town of Deauville with its boardwalk, casino, hippodrome and chic boutiques is the perfect base for exploring the landings beaches, memorials and museums
with the promise of café and nightlife buzz when you return from your days touring. And the exceptionally picturesque ports of Honfleur and Trouville are also nearby.

PV-Holidays has a wide choice of affordable self-catering apartments in Normandy including the Pierre & Vacances – Deauville Golf Resort in Deauville which offers comfortable studios with fully equipped kitchens from just 310 Euros for seven nights from 7-14 March 2009. For further information on all apartments, special deals and availability, visit here

Current Special Offers
PV-Holidays have 12 properties available in the area, and have studios situated in Deauville, Branville, Omaha Beach, Trouville Cabourg, Honfleur and Mont St Michael, with many of these properties currently offering 15-20% off, especially when booked early.

PV-Holidays have also extended this offer during June, to allow customers to experience the anniversary of the landings.
You can find the selection of properties in the Normandy area here

Branville holiday village has been completed in time for 2009, so for families who wish to take a cultural break, this is the perfect base. Find more information here


Thanks for reading,


PV-Holidays: Paris to Deauville car rally

September 30, 2008 5:07 pm
posted by Simon


You can’t help but have the feeling you’ve stumbled onto the film set of a family Christmas movie when you watch the colourful, wacky racer parade of vintage cars that is the Paris-Deauville rally.


Petrol heads with a penchant for leather upholstery, white scarves and goggles will absolutely adore the show and party atmosphere of this racing event that seems to get bigger by year since its first outing in 1966.


This year’s race, which begins on 3rd October and finishes in Deauville on the 5th October, will feature 60 teams from throughout France and international competitors from England, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.


Treat yourself to a weekend break in Deauville, and you can enjoy a ring-side view of vintage Ford, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar cars hurtle and roar towards the finishing line. The romantic town of Deauville provides the perfect set for the show reminiscent of France’s elegant pre-war motor car races.


If you prefer horsepower to petrol, make your way to Deauville at the end of October for the annual Equi’days equestrian show. The main dressage and jumping shows take place in Deauville on Sunday 26th October and a wide programme of horse races and shows take place in hippodromes around Normandy.


The Paris-Deauville car rally website can be found Here

October/November deals
Pierre Vacances has plenty of accommodation available Paris to Deauville car rally. In particular the studios and apartments at La residence du Golf, Deauville, from 390 Euro per week on the 4th, 11th and 18th October and from 590 Euro per week on the 25th October and 1st November. Short breaks (minimum 3 nights) are also available.

More info here



Have you ever attended the rally? If so, why not tell us about your experience. What were the highlights and which part of Deauville did you enjoy the most?

Visit PV-holidays, our website for Pierre Vacances here