Provence and the Riviera offer many attractions that kids enjoy. Perhaps your main concern with having children along is pacing yourself with museum time. Our suggestion is to spend 2 days in Provence, exploring the two towns with the most appeal to families, Avignon and Les Baux, before tackling the three big resorts of the Riviera: St-Tropez, Cannes, and Nice. Because its hotels are the most affordable on the Riviera, you can spend 3 nights in Nice, using the resort as a base for exploring the two hill towns, St-Paul-de-Vence and Vence, with a final day reserved for Monaco.
Day 1: Avignon
The TGV (high-speed train) from Paris delivers you to the ancient papal city of Avignon in just 2 hours and 38 minutes. If you leave Paris early enough in the morning, you'll have a full day of sightseeing. First, head for the pont St-Bénezet, the ancient bridge of Avignon, which inspired the old song, "Sur le pont d'Avignon, l'on y danse, l'on y danse." After a visit, take your family for a stroll within the ramparts of Avignon, followed by a 2-hour visit to the Palais des Papes, the papal residence during the so-called period of "Babylonian Captivity," when a pope ruled in Avignon, as well as a rival pope in Rome.
After a lunch, take the kids to the Musée Requien for a visit to its herbarium with some 200,000 specimens gathered by botanists from around the globe. Afterwards, take them to Rocher des Doms, the beautiful hilltop park with children's play areas, a cafe, duck pond, and minibikes to rent.
Day 2: Les Baux
On day 2, in a rented car from Avignon, drive southwest to Les Baux, where you can check into a hotel for the night. This bare rock spur, with ravines on each side, is fascinating to explore. You can wander at leisure, visiting the ruins of a fortified castle, even exploring the "ghost village" (often called "the dead village"). The ancient chateau holds special events for children during the summer, including battle reenactments and staged sword fights. After lunch, drive into the surrounding area to explore the gorge Val d'Enfer or "Valley of Hell". Return to Les Baux for the evening.
Day 3: St-Tropez
From Les Baux drive southeast to the chic resort of St-Tropez. Although the image of St-Tropez is that of a decadent adult retreat, many French parents with children also vacation here. After checking into a hotel, head for the beach. The best sandy strips for families are those near town, including Plage de la Bouillabaisse and Plage des Graniers. You needn't return to town until later as you can enjoy lunch on the beach. After midafternoon, you can head back to the resort for a stroll along the yacht-clogged harbor and the waterfront. Overnight here.
Day 4: Cannes
After driving east from St-Tropez to Cannes on day 4, check into a hotel and go for a stroll along the promenade de la Croisette, bordering the harbor. This is one of the grandest walks on the Riviera. After lunch, take one of the ferryboats leaving from the harbor for an afternoon visit to Île Ste-Marguerite, where the "Man in the Iron Mask" was held. You can return to Cannes for some beach life at the Plage de la Croisette before dinner.
Day 5: Nice
On day 5, drive east from Cannes to this larger city, which has more of interest than any other town on the Riviera. It also makes the best base for exploring the hill towns or the resorts to its immediate east, including Monaco. After checking into a hotel for 3 nights, take the kids on the Petit Train de Nice, which will get them acquainted with the town. After a ride, take a long stroll along the promenade des Anglais, the wide boulevard bordering the water, before heading into Vieille Ville, or Old Town, for a lengthy stroll and a lunch at a typical Niçoise bistro. In the afternoon most kids will go along with you to visit Nice's two most important museums: Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain and the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Or take them to the top of Colline du Château (by elevator if they don't want to walk) for panoramic views of the city and the coastline.
Day 6: St-Paul-de-Vence & Vence
While still based in Nice, on day 6, head for the Riviera's most beautiful hill town, St-Paul-de-Vence, 31km (19 miles) to the north. Kids will delight in spending the morning walking the streets of this historic hill town, especially rue Grande. After lunch, head to Fondation Maeght. Even if your child isn't an art lover, this museum is so daringly avant-garde that there will be something of intrigue here.
In the afternoon, drive to Vence to visit the Chapelle du Rosaire, the chapel that Henri Matisse viewed as his masterpiece. Spend the remaining part of the afternoon exploring the old streets of Vence before returning to Nice.
Day 7: The Principality of Monaco
While still based in Nice, on day 7, your final day for the Riviera, head east for a distance of only 18km (11 miles). The tiny little country of Monaco was largely put on the map when Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier and went to live in this fairy-tale kingdom by the sea. Kids delight in watching the changing of the guard at Les Grands Appartements du Palais, where Prince Albert lives. After a visit, take them for a walk through the Jardin Exotique, known for its cacti collection, before lunch. One of the pizzerias in Monaco-Ville could be a good choice.
After lunch, you will still have time to visit the fascinating Musée Océanographique de Monaco, filled with exotic creatures of the sea, as well as the Collection de Voitures Anciennes, the antique-car collection that belonged to Prince Rainier.
Return to Nice for the night. Because it's the transportation hub of the Riviera, it will be relatively easy from here to get to where you are going next.
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.