Futuroscope – Poiters
Futuroscope is located in the department of Vienne, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, 10 kilometres north of Poitiers, in the communes of Chasseneuil-du-Poitou and Jaunay-Clan. The Theme-Park is based upon multimedia, cinematographic Futuroscope and audio-visual techniques and boasts over 40 attractions for all ages and tastes. We went when our son was 4 and there was plenty of activities and rides he could enjoy. It’s great all year long too as a lot of attractions are indoors. You can download the app to see what queue times were for attractions, which is really helpful.
Dune du Pilat, Arcachon Basin
The Dune du Pilat is the highest sand dune in Europe. It is located on the inner shore of the Arcachon Basin, on one of France’s most unspoilt coastlines, the Cote d’Argent.
This magnificent feat of nature stands over 100m above sea level and forms a rectangle of silky sand 500m deep and around 2.7km long, nestled within the beautiful forests of Landes de Gascogny. If you are visiting this beautiful coastline, you must climb the dune for the most incredible views of the Arcachon basin and its colourful tidal waters. As the tides ebb and flow over the shifting sands of the basin and their depth varies, the water changes from deep green to sparkling turquoise and every colour in-between.
There is paid parking about 400m from the foot of the dune, with toilets nearby and cafes lining the route. The dune itself is free to climb, there is no entrance; one minute you’re on the path, the next you’re in the sand! At first, you can’t see the dune but as you get close, it suddenly rises and you’ll have one of those ‘wow’ moments as you struggle to take in it’s bulk and height. There are around 250 steps set into the side of the dune to make getting to the top easier. It’s still hard work on a hot day or when the dune if busy (July and August) so go early, or out of season if you can.
Once at the top, you’ll have those incredible views and may well see soaring paragliders taking advantage of the perfect conditions the dune provides. Bring a picnic if you can carry it, and find somewhere quiet to build your very own sandcastle!
Izzy – The Gap Decaders
Annecy, the capital of the Haute-Savoie department in the east of France 100 km west of Chamonix and the border with Switzerland is a visually stunning location ideal for a family day out. Overlooked by snow-capped mountains of the Alps to the north Annecy boasts dramatic vistas in every direction.
Situated at the northern tip of one of Europe’s most picturesque lakes Annecy provides families a rich natural environment to enjoy a huge number of outdoor activities.
The crystal clear waters of Lake Annecy perfect for sailing, waterboarding and stand up paddleboarding whilst there are over 25 kilometres of cycle paths to the western shore. As well as a leisurely cycle these are ideal to reach the Lake’s many beaches and designated swimming areas.
Don’t worry though if you have not come prepared as there are numerous rental stores ready to cater for all your sporting needs.
The less active may also enjoy being on the water via any of the scenic boat tours on offer.
Away from the Lake the historic centre of Annecy a stunning location for an afternoon stroll through narrow streets and alleyways. Crisscrossed by a series of canals you will no doubt be tempted by one of the charming waterfront cafes and restaurants. Also, look out for incredible architecture such as the 12th century Palais de l’Ile.
After expelling so much energy there is no excuse not to sample some of the Haute-Savoie many gastronomic delights. Kids will love the many chocolatiers and gelato stands whilst the region’s incredible cheeses will leave adults speechless and salivating for more.
Time your day trip to coincide with the town’s famous August festival and you will be treated to one of Europe’s largest firework displays. An incredible way to end an action-packed day trip.
Paul – The Two That Do
Strasbourg, France is a perfect destination for a family day out. The city is gorgeous and will make visitors of all ages feel like they’re stepping into a fairy tale village. There are many things to do in Strasbourg for families like taking a boat ride on the canal that circles the medieval city centre. Most of the boat rides include ascending through the lock system which is thrilling for all ages.
In Strasbourg, you will also find Le Vasseau, a science museum designed for hands-on learning. Most of the interactive exhibits are free of charge which leaves you room to budget other activities like the mini-train tour. The min-trains tours may be slightly touristic, but for families with young children, it’s a great way to explore the historic centre of Strasbourg. It’s a quaint way to gaze at the beauty of Petite France and the picturesque city of Strasbourg. Another popular family activity is climbing to the top of Strasbourg Cathedral. While the cathedral is stunning on its own, the sweeping views from the observation platform are worth the climb to the top. If your family doesn’t like heights, pay a visit to Place Gutenberg, a nice ground-level square. There you will find the historic carousel located in the heart of Strasbourg. It’s a wonderful activity for children and adults alike and the area is full of boutiques and cafes for shopping or a treat after the ride.
With so much to do, it won’t be surprising that Strasbourg is a perfect family day out in France.
Derek and Mike – Robe Trotting
Menton for Festival of Lemons
Menton, a lovely town on the French Riviera close to the border with Italy, is pleasant to visit year-round, but even more so during their Lemon Festival. Fête du Citron is an annual celebration of the locally grown lemons and has been held (nearly) every year at the end of winter since 1928. The carnival lasts for 2 weeks with different events taking place every day.
Your children will watch in awe all the giant statues made up of lemons and the long lemon processions. Everything is made up of lemons and oranges during the Lemon Festival. Each year, the festival has a special theme, so it’s never exactly the same.
Apart from the festival, the seaside location of the city and its layout make it ideal for a family trip. There are a few pebble beaches in Menton too. The one right outside the historical centre is the prettiest.
Visit the beach with your kids after a stroll through the Old Town, fuelled by ice cream. You can admire the impressive Basilica St. Michel and its amazing views over the town and the sea.
Menton is also famous for its gardens – visit e.g. the Maria Serena Garden, the Jardins Biovès or the Val Rahmeh-Menton Botanical Garden.
Menton can be easily visited on a day trip from Nice – it only takes less than half an hour by car or around 40 minutes by train.
Veronika – Travel Geekery
Château de Versailles, Paris
Château de Versailles is one of those places which is suitable for everyone from backpacking youngsters, solo travellers, to couples, to families with kids, to elderly – everyone!
This was built in 17 C CE by Louis XIV. It is magnificent, luxurious and splendid! It is easy to explore the palace at our own pace with the audio-guide. The most fascinating aspect of the interiors are the ceiling paintings of the Versailles Palace – it’s a treasure trove for every art history enthusiast. The most important wall painting here is the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte. These are important, esp., for European high school children to understand their own history. Strolling through the various rooms admiring the art takes easily half a day and the other half could be spent at the gardens.
The most fascinating place for smaller kids to be in this palace is the gardens, esp. during the musical fountain show. The garden is huge with several sections with very many fountains. The Musical Fountain show happens on weekends & specific days of the week during different months. Each fountain has different timing and it is so much fun to run with a toddler from one fountain to the next and admire them all. Beyond these shows, the most magical one is the Night Fountain Show with lightings & lasers & fireworks & more, that happens on very few days every year!
Bhushavali – My Travelogue by Bhushavali
If you are looking for something for the kids near Paris (and Disney isn’t French enough), you have to take a trip to Parc Asterix. Based on the famous comic books, Asterix and Obelix come to life in a large theme park about 30 minutes north of Paris.
The theme park recreates “Old France” and features the intrepid Gauls (as the French were called then) and their fight against the dastardly Roman Empire. Combining history and kitsch, the park is divided into areas featuring the land of the Gauls, ancient Egypt, the Roman empire, and more.
Like Disneyland Paris, there are several rides for the very young, like merry-go-rounds, train rides, and boat rides for small children. And for the adults and older kids, there are the roller-coasters that are as exhilarating as those you will find at any large theme park.
There is even an aquatic centre with live shows featuring sea lions and dolphins. In terms of dining, there are several restaurants and cafés in the park, depending on if you feel like eating a proper sit-down meal, or if you need a quick snack to tide over the kids. All in all, a lovely day trip from Paris that both you and the kids will love.
Nassie – Snippets of Paris
The incredible city of Carcassonne is quite unlike any city in France. Located in the south, a short drive from the city of Toulouse, it looks as though it could have stepped straight out of a fairytale, with its grand fortress sitting high on a hill overlooking the lower part of the city. Full of history and incredible architecture, Carcassonne is both an adults and a children’s playground. Although many people chose to actually stay in the lower part of the city, there is no question that the main attraction is the incredible citadel. One of the best things to do is to simply wander the cobbled streets and get lost in the maze of small alleyways dotted with incredible viewpoints. Be sure to head up to the ramparts and walk around the city walls.
A great attraction in the city is the old School Museum. Children will be able to experience what it would have been like to attend a school many years ago, and will even get the chance to write their name using quill and ink.
When it comes to food choices, the city does not disappoint. In addition to the many restaurants and bars that lie within the city walls, Carcassonne is home to many children-friendly treats, with hole in the wall stalls selling a range of sweet delights, from crepes to ice cream. In the summer months, the streets are also often filled with music and street performers which help to add to the magical atmosphere.
Victoria – Travels on Uneven Pavement
Bois de Vincennes and Château de Vincennes – Paris
The Bois de Vincennes is the largest park in Paris and offers the perfect opportunity to get out into nature without going far from the city. It’s a huge green space with lots of paths for walking and cycling, as well as several playgrounds. There are four artificial lakes, and you can even rent a boat to ride around one of them or follow the walking paths alongside the streams that lead from one lake to the next. Kids will love the geese that hang out around the lakes.Now a public park that’s free for anyone to use, the Bois de Vincennes was once a private hunting preserve for the royal family. And just next to the park is the Château de Vincennes, a beautiful medieval castle that was originally built as a hunting lodge. Dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, the castle was badly damaged during World War II but has since been faithfully restored to its original appearance.
Kids and adults alike will be impressed by the towering keep, also known as the dungeon. At 52 meters tall, it’s the tallest fortified structure of its kind in all of Europe. Regular entry is 9.50 for adults and free for children under 18 years old. You can also pay extra for a guided tour, which is the only way to gain access to the rooftop terrace and its incredible views. Once you’ve thoroughly explored the castle, head to Bioteafood to grab lunch. This quaint vegetarian restaurant is just between the Bois and the Château, and the kitchen whips up some of the best vegetarian food in Paris.
Wendy – The Nomadic Vegan
If you are visiting South West France, make sure to stop in Rocamadour for a day.
Located in the Lot, this hilltop village is known as one of the most beautiful villages in France
You can roam around and discover the beautiful narrow streets while enjoying the views over the river Dordogne. One of the most famous attractions is the church Saint-Sauveur. It’s situated right at the top of Rocamadour. You will have to climb a lot of steps to reach the top, which is not always easy with little ones in tow however you can jump on the cable car instead.
But visiting the village is not the only thing you can do with kids. Rocamadour is also home to two wildlife parks: the Monkey Forest (Foret des singes) and the Eagle Rock (Rocher des Aigles).
Both parks are very involved in animal protection and preservation. They are a great way for children to get closed to these beautiful creatures.
The Rocher des Aigles runs several shows per day. You will get to see eagles (of course!) but also owls, cockatoos, parrots and many more! It’s open every day from April to September.
The Monkey forest offers a somewhat different experience. You can meet the monkeys and feed them with the carers. They also organise scavenger hunts for children which is always good fun!
Rocamadour has always been the locals favourite destination for days out with kids and you will love it too!
Pauline – BeeLoved City
I’ve been personally vacationing in Banyuls-Sur-Mer since I was a kid because it’s that super cute town in France that has everything. You’ll get to enjoy activities such as visiting cool museums for fascinating finds, enjoying the breathtaking sea views, getting pumped up with fun hikes – and of course, great food.
Hiking is one of the best ways to bond with the family and Banyuls offers plenty of hiking sites for outdoor enthusiasts. Not only will you be able to have fun and spend time with each other but you’ll also keep active during your travels there. Out of the many hiking spots found in Banyuls, one I would like to recommend is perfect for all skill-levels – Plage des Elmes – Cap de Béar.
You can take a trip and be close to nature with your kids on this 13.4-kilometre trail, which gives you the opportunity to spot wildlife. Even dogs can tag along safely. Plan your nature trip accordingly, but most of the year, the weather in Banyuls is nice. Generally, the area is more temperate than in most regions.
If you want to settle for indoor activities, one best place to visit with the family is the Biodiversarium. This attraction showcases the marine and terrestrial biodiversity of Banyuls-Sur-Mer aquarium and Garden of Mas de la Serra.
Lucile – Lucile HR
Gorge du Verdon
The Gorge du Verdon is often called the Grand Canyon of Europe and is a great stop for families looking to have a relaxed day in nature. It is less than 2 hours away from Nice or Cannes and can be easily accessed by car.
The gorge is formed by the Verdon River and ends in a manmade lake called the Lac de Sainte-Croix. Families with small children might want to stick to the lake as it’s calmer than the river. This is one of the most picturesque places in the country, with turquoise blue water and large limestone cliffs.
Water activities are plentiful and include kayaking, canoeing, swimming, rafting and paddle boating. Those wanting a land-based adventure can partake in horseback riding, hiking, paragliding and even bungee jumping! The landscape is so diverse that it will accommodate everyone in your family, from thrill-seekers to sunbathers.
Rent a place in the nearby town of Castellane. Most tours depart from here and the city centre has plenty of places to shop and eat. If you’re road tripping around the area, be extra vigilant since the winding mountain roads can be challenging for tourists.
Summer is the best time of year to visit this site to be able to get in the water but it is open year-round.
Jen – Jen On A Jet Plane
Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire
Chateau de Chenonceau makes one of the best days out for families in France. The stunning castle is one of the highlights of all castles at the Loire – and there are many to beat. Kids will not just love the fully furnished castle, but especially the lush gardens.
Chateau de Chenonceau is part of an entertaining royal court intrigue. The French king Henry II gave the beautiful Loire palace to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, though his wife Catherine already had her eye on it. Catherine herself was gifted a less beautiful chateau by her royal husband and wasn’t pleased. She revenged herself soon after the king died. Diane was banned from court and was forced to give up her chateau in exchange for Catherine’s one. Both ladies left their mark on the French castle. Diane expanded the old castle with a bridge and Catherine covered it, together creating the iconic look of todays castle.
Besides the unique covered bridge, the authentic style rooms and historic kitchen are highlights of a castle visit. The castle will keep small visitors entertained as well with its audio tour for children. Kids will also love the maze, petting donkeys and wandering around the flower or vegetable gardens.
By Maartje & Sebastiaan from The Orange Backpack