Top Picks for Kid-Friendly Holidays on The French Riviera
I’m very happy to share some tips for families visiting the French Riviera, being a ‘local’ I sometimes forget where the hidden gems are myself.
The French Riviera is a great place for families with an appealing mix of culture, outdoor activities and great climate adding up to a holiday destination worth visiting.
Best beaches for families
We’re incredibly lucky to experience fine weather most of the year and if you love beaches then the Côte d’Azur has a vast selection to choose from ranging from sandy beaches to pebbly coves.
I often have families ask me if I recommend they should visit Saint-Tropez. Absolutely possible with family in tow, but Saint-Tropez is best visited in the shoulder season mainly because it is a throng of constant people in high season and logistically the traffic is a nightmare getting there. We’ve all been stuck in gridlock traffic with hot, overtired and hungry kids and it’s not fun.
There are great campgrounds not too far from Saint-Tropez, especially at Grimaud or Fréjus with swimming pools and kid’s clubs. Or, venture a bit further and spend the day at Plage Saint-Clair at Le Lavandou. If you yearn for a day at Pampelonne Beach, head for the family-friendly La Plage des Jumeaux at Ramatuelle that has beach toys, small playground and kid’s menu.
East of Cannes, if you prefer sandy beaches Plage de la Gallice is located beside the port in Juan les Pins and early in the morning is often uncrowded and calm. The bonus features are onsite toilet facilities, as well as a kiosk selling ice-creams, drinks and snacks.
Plage des Marinières at Villefranche-sur-Mer has calm water ideal for families; afterwards, stop for a patisserie at beachside Déli Bo Les Bains.
Best underrated family-friendly attractions
Château de la Napoule is situated at Mandelieu La Napoule, just a short distance from Cannes and is a lovely place to visit for a few hours. Restored over 17 years, the Château is historically listed and is open every day – which is good news for families visiting year-round.
You can explore the unique art collections and gardens dotted with sculptures finishing with a cool drink, coffee or lunch on the sea view terrace at their restaurant.
For families, the location of the Château is convenient to the train station, there are restaurants and gelato shops across the street, clean beaches are nearby and kids get free entry to the Château and a treasure hunt to find clues around the garden and grounds.
Musée National du Sport is located at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice and is a wonderful exploration through the world of sport with displays of sports memorabilia, uniforms, trophies and equipment. The exhibits are interesting, educational and suitable for different ages with a few interactive displays.
Families will appreciate that the entire museum is on flat ground so it’s a good option if you’re travelling with your baby stroller, there are free car parking and a baby change table. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, kids under 18 years get a free entry every day.
The Côte d’Azur hosts many spectacular events from traditional festivals to world-class celebrations. Many of them are free of charge or low-cost which is excellent if you are budgeting for a family holiday.
In summertime, look for open-air concerts, fireworks displays and street theatre. Fête Nationale (July 14) is a day of free public events, as well as Fête de la Musique (June 21), a nationwide celebration where you can enjoy free concerts and a variety of bands, musicians and singers take to streets, village squares and bars.
Nice Carnival, Fête du Citron and Fête du Mimosa are all quite spectacular festivals with lots of colourful displays, parades and things to see. Children’s tickets are often either free for kids up to 5 years of age, or from 6 years of age, the cost is no more than €6-15 per ticket.
Held in Monaco biennially, Grand Prix de Monaco Historique is a highlight of the year and more accessible for families than the pricier Formula 1 race a few weeks later. The races feature historic vehicles including Aston Martins, Jaguars, Porsches and F1 vehicles from the 1960’s to 1980’s.
An unmissable event for any child interested in cars; accompanied children under 16 years are free of charge. Grand Prix de Monaco Historique was held from 11-13 May 2018.
Family-friendly places for escaping the summer heat
The Promenade du Paillon is easily accessible for families visiting central Nice. Not only is there a marine-themed wooden playground for children to burn off some energy, the entire area is pleasant to walk around with paved walkways, trees and flowerbeds. The fun really starts when the water jets start up! Perfect for a hot day.
The Parc Departmental Rives du Loup has some river spots that are quite shallow so it’s ideal for splashing about with small children. Ludiparc near La Colle sur Loup has river access with a pebble beach as well as inflatable play structures, fun activities and a mini water park. The forest walk along the River Brague between Biot and Valbonne is also shaded and great for hot days and dipping your toes into cold water!
The clustering of fun parks at Villeneuve-Loubet are dotted with trees and shaded picnic areas; most also have water parks during summer months. Try Canyon Forest, Le Bois des Lutins, Pitchoun Forest and Village des Fous.
Editorial Note: The companies mentioned in this post have not asked me to express a particular point of view. As always, my opinion is my own. Photos courtesy of Access Riviera.