Southern France is an idyllic location for families seeking some rest and relaxation or some invigorating outdoor activities. Whether your family are happy campers or more comfortable in a well-equipped holiday villa, there will be an activity for everyone to enjoy, be it getting out on the river or a rather more civilised indoor affair.
The South of France benefits from some beautiful rivers, and children who prefer to see the world from the water will love being able to control their own canoe along the serene stretches of water. For around €10 an hour, a canoe can be hired for an enjoyable afternoon paddle. A fine example of a good canoeing spot is the ravine close to St Guilhem-le-Desert, Gorges de l’Herault, which has been dammed to create a safe area for canoeing with children.
There are very few children who aren’t absolutely delighted at the idea of going to a zoo. Animal-lovers will particularly love this zoo with its fascinating collection of creatures and critters, from the majestic rhino to the fierce lion. Even better – this zoo is free, so if your holiday with your brood is costing more than you were expecting, bring them here to learn about some of their favourite beasts.
Make sure you stock up on your refreshments and suncream before you head off on a hike, but this is one of the best ways to see the south of France. If you have very young children in tow, opt for the scenic walk through the oak forest along the Sentier des Ocres de Roussillon. Take a ball to play a game of catch if nobody else is around, or make up your own games to help children burn off some energy.
For one of the best boat trips, children and teenagers will love the journey to Parc National des Calanques in Marseille for views of dramatic cliffs and sprawling white beaches. Little ones can pretend to be pirates and older children will appreciate the novelty of travelling in style – just make sure you keep an eagle eye on your brood at all times!
Let’s be realistic: the weather in France won’t always be great. If you find yourself stuck in your villa on a rainy day, head off to the planetarium in Montpellier. Children will marvel at the giant semi-circular screen displaying films of space using the latest digital imagery to make them feel like they’re real space explorers. In the Odysseum complex, where the planetarium is situated, there are also restaurants, an aquarium and a bowling alley if the weather takes a longer-term turn for the worse.