- Climbing the Heights of Mont-St-Michel (Normandy): Straddling the tidal flats between Normandy and Brittany, this Gothic marvel is the most spectacular fortress in northern Europe. Said to be protected by the archangel Michael, much of it stands as it did during the 1200s. As of 2014, however, a brand-new pedestrian path connects the visitor center to Mont-St-Michel itself. You can now stroll, bike, or trot (in a horse-drawn carriage) across to the fortress.
- Getting Medieval in the Hilltop Town of Les Baux (Provence): The age-old hilltown of Les Baux commands views over hundreds of miles of Provençal countryside. The film-set location, including the hilltop ruins of its “ghost village,” plus a volley of great restaurants, have made it a retreat for France’s rich and famous. Kids will love its car-free medieval streets and awesome views, not to mention the daily display of a siege engine catapult.
- Visiting the new Lascaux IV (Dordogne): Opened in January 2018, the latest replica reveals far more of the cave than previous ones and uses a range of digital technology (including a very clever tablet guide) to take visitors back 20,000 years. From the outside, Lascaux IV is perfectly blended into the natural landscape. It is particularly good for children—and afterwards you can take them to nearby Le Thot Zoo to see live animals like those on the Lascaux walls.
- Making the Most of Modern Art in Antibes (French Riviera): The Musée Picasso (Picasso Museum) in Antibes highlights some of the most accessible art in France. The Spanish painter set up shop in the atmospheric old quarter of Antibes’s Château Grimaldi some 70 years ago. In such relaxed surroundings, children can appreciate the color, vibrancy, and playfulness that made Picasso one of the greats of the 20th century. The far-out sculptures and sunny views of the surrounding coastline will please non-art fans, too.
- Joining the Cowboys in the Camargue (Provence): Riding a sturdy Camarguais horse and with a local cowboy to guide you, make your way through the marshes of these beautiful, remote wetlands. Spot pink flamingos and watch the gardians with their large felt hats rounding up black bulls bred for the bullrings of the south. If the children don’t ride, then slow boats, bicycles, and jeeps make great alternatives.
- Sailing along a Canal (Burgundy): Burgundy has France’s largest network of waterways. As well as the navigable rivers of the Yonne, Saône, and Seille, seven canals were built between the 17th and 19th century to link the rivers Seine, Loire, and Rhône. Hire your own boat or take an organized trip passing châteaux and vineyards, going through tunnels, over aqueducts, and up or down staircase locks.
- Getting a Chocolate Education (Rhône Valley): The trials of finding a museum suitable for children are solved upon discovering the cacao-infused wonders of La Cité du Chocolat. All five senses are used in the interactive exhibits that entertain little ones with the rich experience of chocolate making and tasting.
- Exploring the Calanques (Provence): The Parc National des Calanques is a stunning series of limestone cliffs and tumbling fjords that stretch along the coast for some 30km (18 miles) southeast of Marseille. Serious hikers can trek the Calanques’ rocky promontories. Families with children can take in the coastline from aboard one of the many tour boats that depart from Marseille’s port.
- Walking through a Real Fairy Tale (Loire): The whole region of the Loire offers kids the chance to live out their fairy-tale fantasies. Step right into a storybook at the Château d’Ussé, the inspiration for “Sleeping Beauty.”
- Remembering Fallen Heroes on Normandy’s D-Day Beaches: On June 6, 1944, the largest armada ever assembled departed on rough seas and in dense fog from southern England. For about a week, the future of the civilized world teetered between the Nazi and Allied armies. Today the entire family can immerse itself in the past with superb interactive exhibits, such as the personal tales detailed at the Normandy American Visitor Center. Kids can then run wild on the windswept sands below.
- Playing in the Jardin des Plantes (Paris): A splendid place for a picnic, this historic botanical garden is a quiet oasis in the Latin Quarter, where families can relax and tiny travelers can enjoy the playground, hothouses, and green spaces. When playtime is over, everyone can wander over to the small zoo or the adjoining natural-history museum.
- Stargazing at Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (Paris): Set amid the vast Parc de la Villette in the 19th arrond., this huge museum of science and industry includes a planetarium, an Imax theater, and even an authentic 1950s submarine that kids can climb into. But the biggest draw is the Cité des Enfants, a supremely kid-friendly collection of hands-on exhibits and displays.
- Hameau Duboeuf, Romanèche-Thorins (Burgundy): To the south of Mâcon is the Beaujolais wine area and the “wine hamlet,” created by wine merchant Georges Duboeuf, is the place to go for the whole family to learn about this particular drink from its origins to the present day. Kids will love “flying” over the Mâconnais countryside and playing crazy golf, while adults can enjoy a tasting or two.
- Pioneering à la Francaise, Ungersheim (Alsace): Enter a rebuilt historic Alsatian hamlet at the Ecomuseum near Colmar. Kids will adore the country-style houses. They may take in a horse-and-cart ride and observe the costumed “villagers” at work.
- Understanding Cavemen in the Ardèche (Rhône Valley): This double attraction at Le Grand Site de L’Aven d’Orgnac fills wet days as the limestone cave is at its most beautiful when it rains. The neighboring archaeological museum offers child-friendly exhibits and 3D animations that will leave visitors of all ages with a palpable idea of how prehistoric humans lived.
- Bicycling around the Bassin d'Arcachon (Bordeaux): Over 200 km (125 miles) of cycling routes around Arcachon Bay take you through beaches, oyster villages, and pine forests, with over 35 places to hire bicycles along the way. As it’s fairly flat the whole way, it’s perfect for cycling with young families.
- A surf lesson in Anglet, St-Jean-de-Luz or Biarritz: The beaches as you head down towards the Spanish border offer brilliant surfing opportunities. Book a lesson rather than just paddling out solo, as the waves and currents of the Atlantic can be strong. Or get a body board and splash around in the shallows.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.