The world’s number one tourist destination, France draws nearly 80 million annual visitors with its abundance of attractions and activities suitable for travelers of all ages. For a kid-friendly France itinerary, consider visiting the following regions, packed with things to do and see that will please even the youngest members of the family.
France Family Holiday Destination #1: Île-de-France
Île-de-France includes Paris, a romantic city fit for any itinerary. The city’s classic attractions include the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, eagerly visited by families traveling with kids, casual backpackers, and couples alike. Outside the capital, the region offers a sample of everything travelers expect of France: quaint villages, museums, cathedrals, chateaux, parks, and forests. For a kid-friendly Ile-de-France experience, head to Disneyland Park, Europe’s outpost of the famous “Magic Kingdom.” The region’s other show-business attraction is Walt Disney Studio Park, where little ones can meet Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story” and Crush from “Finding Nemo.” If you’re traveling with teens, consider Palais de la Découverte, an interactive museum featuring permanent exhibits on math, physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, and biology.
France Family Holiday Destination #2: Pays de la Loire
Add Pays de la Loire to your France trip planner to discover a picturesque region whose mild climate is conducive to family-friendly activities like biking, boating, strolling, and picnicking. The region famously hosts the 24 Hours of Le Mans car races and the Vendee Globe sailing events, both of which remain wildly popular with a range of visitors young and old. To enter a dreamlike world of fantasy combining the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci and the imaginary settings of Jules Verne, visit Les Machines de L’île, a child’s dream come true with giant machines and mechanical creatures. Kids can learn about the world’s endangered animals at Zoo de Doué la Fontaine, home to rare leopards, Andean condors, spider monkeys, and giant otters.
France Family Holiday Destination #3: Auvergne
An extensive region in the center of France, Auvergne contains vast green areas dotted with lakes, forests, and extinct volcanoes. Known as perhaps the best hiking territory in this part of Europe, the region is home to two sprawling natural parks, offering plenty of family-oriented outdoor activities. The region’s other major attraction is Vulcania, an amusement park dedicated to volcanoes and renowned for blending scientific discovery with family tourism. In addition to giant indoor simulators taking visitors on adrenaline-filled flights over active volcanoes, the park features a state-of-the-art greenhouse with sub-tropical and ancient volcanic environments. If volcanoes aren’t your family’s cup of tea, spend some energy at Saint Nectaire Adventures, an adventure park where the kids can climb trees and navigate ropes courses.
France Family Holiday Destination #4: Poitou-Charentes
Though many adult visitors to Poitou-Charentes may remember the area for its fine cognac, this region features an idyllic coastline and remains a popular destination for a France family holiday. Should the quaint coastal villages here prove just a bit too sleepy for the younger members of your group, consider a visit to Aquarium La Rochelle, home to over 12,000 marine creatures. If your idea of a family day involves heart-pounding rides and jaw-dropping 3D films, don’t miss the popular Futuroscope, best described as a combination of amusement park, science museum, and high-tech movie theater. For a breath of fresh air and a lesson in animal conservation, spend some time at La Vallée des Singes, which shelters over 400 different primates on 16 hectares (40 acres) of land.
France Family Holiday Destination #5: Midi-Pyrénées
Just as its name suggests, Midi-Pyrénées contains the Pyrenees mountain range, a popular base for skiers, cyclists, hikers, and other outdoor sports enthusiasts. One of the region’s star attractions is Pyrenees National Park, a protected natural area with over 70 native animal species. An ideal place to learn all about the region’s plant and animal life, the park forms part of a World Heritage Site encompassing a huge area of pristine nature straddling the border between France and Spain. For a kid-friendly indoor vacation idea, visit Cité de l’Espace, an interactive science museum dedicated to the human conquest of space and packed with full-scale models of famous spacecraft.
The Kid-Friendly Side of France
While many tourists consider France a very grown-up destination, the country offers plenty of activities and attractions that appeal to both children and their parents. Plan a family trip to France with the country’s kid-friendly regions in mind, and create an enjoyable and enriching experience guaranteed to please the entire family.