By Cheryl Antier
If you’re planning a family vacation to the French Riviera, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the large number of indoor and outdoor activities that will appeal to children of all ages, abilities and preferences. There are also activities that will fit any budget. Here are 10 ideas that are sure to be a hit with your kids:
1. The Côte d’Azur – Through the Eyes of the Masters
Spend some time discovering the French Riviera by walking in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest artists and see the Côte d’Azur through their eyes.
From Monet to Duffy, Renoir to Chagall, Bonnard to Cocteau to Soutine and others, this unique program will become a permanent display, and gives visitors the chance to see first hand the landscapes that inspired some of the world’s greatest painters. This walk goes from the villages of Cannet to Menton and makes for a wonderful family outing that will let your children experience a unique view of the French Riviera. They can see a reproduction of a famous painting in front of the landscape that inspired it. (And since many of the originals are on display at local museums, they’ll enjoy visiting them afterwards, to get a look at the originals. Dogs are allowed on leash. What to bring: Walking shoes, sweater if it’s chilly, bottled water, camera Location, Contact Information and Hours of Operation: Cannet – Menton Tel +33 (0)4 93 37 78 78 http://www.guideriviera.fr
2. The Tourist Train in Nice
Because parking can be a problem, especially during tourist season, consider taking the train to Nice, and walking around the city to explore. Another option is the small “tourist train” that provides you with a tour of all the best places to visit in Nice.
You’ll leave from the Promenade des Anglais and ride in comfort to the top of the cliff where a castle once stood, guarding the old part of the city. Stop here to let the kids play in the children’s play area and enjoy a delicious ice cream cone while you enjoy the view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Then it’s “All Aboard” and the journey continues through the open air flower market and an exploration of the “vielle” (old) part of Nice. Finally you’ll want to have your camera ready as you travel along the seafront of the Baie des Anges and the Quai des Etats-Unis.
This is an activity suited for everyone, and dogs may come along too, as long as they’re on leash. What to bring: Sweater during cooler weather, camera, walking shoes, bottled water Location, Contact Information and Hours of Operation: Board the train at the Départ de la Promenade des Anglais (face au jardin Albert 1er) Tel +33 (0)6 16 39 53 51 Fax +33 (0)4 93 62 85 48 http://www.petittrainnice.com
Open: all year except November 20 to December 20th and from January 1 to January 20th. Open every day in the summer, 10am-8pm and in the winter, 10am-6pm. Call for times and rates for groups.
3. 3. Antibes Land – Amusement Park
The Antibes Amusement park offers fun for the whole family. It’s always brightly lit at night and can be seen for miles. There are 30 “international rides” that appeal to the young and the young at heart. There are also places where you can sit and enjoy a picnic lunch or dinner, or you can eat at any of their small cafes which offer a selection of beer and wines also. Some of the park is wheelchair accessible (although not all of the rides), and dogs are allowed on leash. What to bring: bottled water, healthy snacks, tissues (in case there is no toilet paper) Location, Contact Information and Hours of Operation Ave. Mozart Antibes http://www.azurpark.com
Open: 1st April-30th Sept, 8.30pm-2am. April-mid-June, weekends and bank holidays, 2pm-7pm. Open later on Saturdays; Mid-June-August, every day, 8.30pm-1am. Saturdays from 4pm and Sundays from 3pm, September, weekends from 4pm-2am.
4. Mat et Eau
If your family enjoys more adventuresome activities, then Mat and Eau will be just the thing. Providing the best in white water activities, the half-day or all day water activities are a great way to explore a different side of the Cote d’Azur. Try Hot dogging, hydro-speeding, rafting, water tours, cannoning. Note: All participants must know how to swim, and the owners suggest that children must be at least six years of age.
What to Bring: tennis shoes, swim suit.
Location, Contact Information and Hours of Operation: 1177 rte de la Madone
Tel +33 (0)6 81 56 21 56 / +33(0)6 83 18 48 74
http://www.mat-et-eau.com Call for fees and times. Reservations are recommended during busy seasons.
Come prepared to spend the day at this 30 hectare park and preserve that offers walking trails, a miniature adventure track (only a few centimeters off the ground that makes it perfect for toddlers), a children’s adventure track (about a meter off the ground suitable for 5 to 8 year olds – you can walk alongside your kids) and other adventure and climbing tracks that are in century-old trees and much higher off the ground.
They offer 85 different workshops on 7 different tracks, most suitable for anyone 5 years and older. There are also parent/child activities that you can do together.
Don’t miss the small farm with animals that love to be petted. Take any of the walking trails to learn more about the forests of Provence and nature.
You can purchase sandwiches and drinks on site, or bring your own picnic lunch – but please put all containers in the appropriate recycling bins.
What to Bring: Walking shoes, sweaters, bottled water, picnic lunch and if you have a baby, make sure that the stroller can handle rocky and uneven ground – otherwise you might want to use an infant backpack or carrier.
Location, Contact Information and Hours of Operation: Parc des cèdres, Domaine Rouvière Tel +33 (0)6 12 58 02 26 Fax +33 (0)4 94 86 10 92 http://www.aoubre.fr
Open on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays and school holidays, from 9am to 8pm in the summer and 9.30am to 5.30pm in the winter. Reservations are required. Check out the next five best family activities in the French Riviera in part two of this article!
About the Author
Author Cheryl Antier invites you to learn all about where to go and what to do in the French Riviera from an American who lives there! Discover the best places to eat, stay and shop. Why settle for an ordinary vacation, when you can create an extraordinary one? French Riviera Vacation Guide