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slinger1317
Houston Astros Fan
Northshore
Member since Sep 2005
4551 posts

France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
We are looking to take a vacation at the end of May next year with our 2 kids - will be 11 & 10. They are good travelers, and we want to expand their horizons a bit. We are looking to spend 8-9 days in France, and obviously Paris will be a major part of that. I am looking to gather ideas on where else to visit while over there. So far I have researched several different regions, all being spread out around the country. We haven't booked anything yet, but early thoughts are to spend 3-4 days in Paris, then another 3-4 days in another region. We don't want to spend the whole trip running around- we prefer to stick to 2-3 locations if possible. The wife and I have been to Europe before, but would be the first time with the kids. I have read several France threads on here as well as plenty of Google searches. So far here are some of the options I'm considering- I'd appreciate any input on these or other places I have left out.

These are a few options I've come across so far:

Bayeux/Normandy/Mt. St. Michel - I personally would love to see Omaha beach area but feel like being so far north would eliminate any other destinations to the south

Colmar/Freiburg - early lean

Taking the train to London for a day - maybe between Paris and next destination

Loire Valley

Provence Region

Avignon

French Alps


We aren't big on the beach area (ex. Nice/Cannes) but are more geared toward architecture/history/castles and seeing things we can't see in the US.

Any input or suggestions would be greatly appreciated?
This post was edited on 9/14 at 7:42 am


Bermuda99
Member since Jun 2021
43 posts
 Online 

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
Take a look at Lake Annecy. We went on vacation when I was around the age your kids will be and loved it. It’s located about an hour or so drive from Geneva. Really picturesque setting with mountains behind the lake. Great hiking in the area, and water sports on the lake. The town is pretty neat. The lake is supposed to be one of the cleanest in Europe. We also took a day trip to Chamonix and Mont Blanc, which was again about an hours drive away.

LINK

This post was edited on 9/14 at 8:08 am


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CharlieTiger
Auburn Fan
ATL
Member since Jun 2014
369 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
I highly recommend Provence. Went to France for two weeks in 2019 and stayed in Provence for 9 days. We had a house in St Remy, which is just south of Avignon. It was a good central base to venture out.

They'll have market days at the towns around the area every day of the week.

Les Baux would be fun for them. Remains of an old castle overlooking vineyards and olive groves. Some cool medievel weapons on display. They may have some sort of exhibit there as well. There's an old limestone mine there that they do these really cool art exhibits in where you can walk around inside and watch different projections on the walls inside it. It's a pretty big space and also relatively chilly inside. It was perfect on our hot day there.

LINK /

Pont du Gard is an old Roman aqueduct over the Gard river. You can swim in the river. Not sure if May would be warm enough though. They actually rode the Tour de France over it last year.

Gordes is a really cool place. It's a city on a hill. We went there for market day and it just covers the whole city.

Aix is great. L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is cool. It's a city cut in two by the Sorgue river. Arles has some old roman ruins - an arena, ampitheater, etc.

Plenty of other places to see, but I thought that whole area was just amazing.

We stayed just outside of town in St Remy and made the ~10 minute walk in town every morning for fresh bread and breakfast croissants, etc. Really just an overall beautiful area.


Lima Whiskey
Member since Apr 2013
14396 posts
 Online 

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
I have family that live in the Loire, and I’ve spent a lot of time there.

quote:

more geared toward architecture/history/castles


The Loire has the highest density of castles in France. The castle in Chinon is very cool. Montresor is special, it’s fully decorated - it’s not an empty building. The owners are Polish nobles, and they still live on the grounds.

LINK /

Tours is a cool city, and I like the old part of Poitiers a lot.

If you like recent history there’s an armored museum in Saumur. The French cavalry school is there, they fought with distinction in WW2, defeating the Germans in Saumur

When I visit, my days are usually spent looking at castles, eating at cafes, and exploring the small towns. Activities always seem sparser, but you can find places to rent canoes or bicycles.

There are zero jobs in the countryside and so all the young people seem to go to Paris.
This post was edited on 9/14 at 8:51 am


baldona
Auburn Fan
Florida
Member since Feb 2016
15469 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
quote:

The Loire


quote:

When I visit, my days are usually spent looking at castles, eating at cafes, and exploring the small towns. Activities always seem sparser, but you can find places to rent canoes or bicycles.


This would be my recommendation. Short commute outside of Paris. Kids and Parents alike generally love castles and estates and the kids have room to run on the grounds.

But there would be tons of options for you OP. Spending time in Lyon and then going into the Alps would be great with kids also.

ETA; with only 8-9 days, I'd even consider renting a flat or cottage in the suburbs of Paris. Go into Paris a couple days, spend some time outside of Paris in the burbs and smaller towns, and take a day trip or 2. Most people go Paris and really don't leave the inner arrondissements. You really don't have to go far outside of the city to get a different French experience than the inner areas.
This post was edited on 9/14 at 9:05 am


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midlothianlsu
LSU Fan
Midlothian, Texas
Member since Oct 2009
704 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
Personally I can’t think of a better way to broaden your kid’s horizons than to take them to Normandy. It is a place every American should visit.


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alpinetiger
Utah Fan
Salt Lake City
Member since Apr 2017
2736 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
d'Aix-en-Provence is great. Its where my Mom's side of the family is from. d'Aix is also a college town so its pretty lively. Last visit we stayed here: LINK /

The oven in the kitchen is over 2000 years old, and the Roman aquaduct was across the street from us. Our Host was binlingual and worked for Coca-Cola for many years. Super helpful. Lots of things to see and do in the area.



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geauxpurple
LSU Fan
New Orleans
Member since Jul 2014
6762 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
We took the Bayeux/Normandy/Mt. St. Michel trip in April of 2019, just a few weeks before the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We started in Paris. Our first full day there was April 15. We saw the tragic fire at Notre Dame right from the beginning and I posted a thread on here about it that night.


We got a rental car in Paris and drove to Bayeux where we stayed at Hotel D'Argouges, a nice little place a few blocks from the cathedral. It is a small, boutique style hotel. The bar serves cocktails in the well landscaped gardens. Very nice.

Bayeux is a charming little town with several excellent restaurants. It was the only town around there that was not bombed during WW II , so the Old Town and Cathedral are still in tact.

We took an excellent all day D-Day Beaches tour with Overlord Tours. Highly recommended.

The next day we drove to Mt. St. Michel and spent the day there. That is a unique sight to see.

We went back to Paris for a few more days and flew home from there.

Wonderful trip.



soccerfüt
Location: A Series of Tubes
Member since May 2013
50872 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
You have a good problem here.

You won't need a car for you time in Paris.

You MAY want (not need) a car for your time outside of Paris.

Obviously the French train system can get you anywhere you want to go but some folks like to have the independence of a vehicle.

I'm a car guy because I hit and run different historical, cultural, and food sites that may be off the beaten path (think trying to visit Maginot Line sites via train or bus schedules).

For visiting the Alps, probably a car.

But if you want to hunker down in a Loire Valley village for three of four days, you won't need a car.

I'm most familiar with NE France to Paris, there are folks here who know the entire country well.

Good luck and don't eliminate Normandy, it's not too far from Paris. you can spend two days there and a couple other days somewhere tangential.


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midlothianlsu
LSU Fan
Midlothian, Texas
Member since Oct 2009
704 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
quote:

Bayeux is a charming little town with several excellent restaurants. It was the only town around there that was not bombed during WW II , so the Old Town and Cathedral are still in tact.


This x100. The people love Americans. Most buildings have American flags displayed. Highly recommend a couple of days at least here in addition to the tour.


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Gaston
LSU Fan
Dirty Coast
Member since Aug 2008
33769 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
Take the train to Dijon and rent a car…head south to Provence. Avignon is a bit far, but it’s amazing.


Tree_Fall
Member since Mar 2021
6 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
After Paris take train to Bordeaux (museums, art, wine) then rent a car and drive into Dordogne region. Popular with French families on holiday, many kid-friendly attractions, extremely historic...even prehistoric sites.

Did this with extended family a few years ago. You need a cottage where you can cook. It's center of duck, goose and truffle production.


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ChEgrad
LSU Fan
Member since Nov 2012
2257 posts

re: France Vacation with Family - options outside of Paris?
I agree with pretty much everything CharlieTiger said. Provence has a great mix of France and Rome - like getting two countries at once. The Pont du Gard is spectacular , Orange has a Roman theater, Arles a small coliseum, Nike’s has a lot of ruins also. Les Baux is great for kids, and there is much, much more. There is a lot to see.

That said, I really loved my one trip to Normandy, Bayeux, Mont St Michel.

Difficult choice.


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