France with older teenagers


Nov 12th, 2012, 08:43 AM
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France with older teenagers

My husband and i are planning our first real family trip with our 2 kids, aged 20 & 17. We want to go to-- or start in France, an area we have yet to explore besides Paris.

I am looking for ideas on where to go with our kids who will have limited tolerance for endless walking and nature hikes-- something my husband and I love to do. When I say limited tolerance I mean that we cannot spend every day doing just that. We need a variety of activities to make it interesting-- besides seeing the beautiful countryside.

Some ideas we have: Provence, Nice, Cote d'Azur and ending in paris. We are also considering doing France and another country-- possibly Italy-- but this is not for sure.

Can anyone suggest areas of France to go with older teenagers that can keep them interested and where there are different things to see and do? I'm open to any kind of suggestions since I have never been to France and can only plan via word-of-mouth and any suggestions I can obtain on this site.

Carleen is offline  
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Nov 12th, 2012, 08:56 AM
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All I know from your post is that your children have limited interest in nature and hiking. I can identify with this. But what do they like to do? Presumably they like city activities - churches, museums, zoos, music, history??? I think it's more helpful to responders to have some idea of their interests. I can only recommend what I like to do.

When are you going to France and how long is your trip. This information will also help us to help you plan.

Do your children want to go on this trip? If so, why are they not part of the planning process?
adrienne is offline  
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Nov 12th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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It does depend somewhat when you plan to go. I wouldn't recommend the Cote d'Azur in August due to crowds, but I also wouldn't recomment it in January, either, obviously.

So assuming these kids like cities and placs that have some young people, and they like general sightseeing (castles, towers, some museums, etc), that pretty much points to cities. I think Nice has a lot to offer, so could recommend that as one place. There are lots of young poeple in Avignon and Aix, so you could do a bit of the Provence countryside but stay in one of those for some other days during your trip in that area. They might like seeing Les Baux, for example, and probably Arles, which is kind of a funky town.

So I could see flyint into Nice, spend a few days there, rent a car and get out of town towards Avignon or Aix and spend a few days seeing things in the country, then settle in for a couple days in Aix or Avignon, then take the train to Paris at the end.
Christina is offline  
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Nov 12th, 2012, 10:08 AM
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Carleen, have your children seen MIDNIGHT IN PARIS yet? It might be fun for them to watch (I’ve seen it three times) and then check out some of the sites in the film – like Shakespeare & Co., Versailles, Rodin Museum, rear view of Notre Dame Cathedral, Pont Alexandre III across the Seine, and the pivotal seen in the film when Gil is whisked away into the past – the church of Sainte Etienne du Mont in the Mouffetard district.

I believe you will find many threads of Fodors. about activities/interests for young folks their age. Of course, there is always shopping…
latedaytraveler is offline  
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Nov 12th, 2012, 10:49 AM
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Paris is full of students their age - and they will find tons of nightlife to enjoy. As for during the day - shouldn't they be picking out what they want to do. (I sympathize with them - my limit for nature walks is an hour - period.)

Have them look at a Let's Go guide for France and also at the Thorntree section of the Lonely Planet website. It willlist not only all the student cafes, pubs and hangouts - but also provide info on major sights they may want to see.
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Nov 12th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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This summer we took our 12 and 16 year old daughters to France and Italy. The private "behind the scene tour" of the Eiffel tower was a hit with both of them, as was the Louvre, and a really great day trip to Vernon for a guided bicycle tour of Monet's garden in Giverny with a picnic lunch on the banks of the Seine. They also loved seeing a ballet performance at the Opera Garnier. My wife and I love the Cote d'Azur, but we opted to take the kids to the Amalfi coast instead for our second week of the trip, and we were glad we did. We stayed in Positano and it was much more family friendly than the Riviera. After a week in Paris museums they were happy for the time on the beach and in the sea. The highlight of the Italy trip was a tour of the ruins at Pompei. The kids were really impressed with that.
autier17 is offline  
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Nov 12th, 2012, 11:49 AM
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I like the idea of linking movies to the visit.

"Midnight in Paris", sure. And "Paris, je t'aime," most segments of which are available on the internet.

"Ronin" with Robert DeNiro and just about everyone else takes place on the Riviera, in Provence (shootout scenes in the Roman arena in Arles), and Paris.

The first Bourne movie has many scenes in Paris and a car chase that seems to begin outside the Gare de l'Est and go just about everywhere.

And everyone should see Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" with Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo, the movie that made Paris lovers of many of us. Paris was full of American cars back then but had a lot to teach us about cool.

I love every movie that Eric Rohmer ever made, but "Rendezvous in Paris" is about three young couples on dates in the city and might be especially enjoyable for people their age.

Finally, any film by Agnes Varda, but "Daguerrotypes", a documentary about the street where she lived for many years in Paris is a standout, since its additional materials are a great help in understanding how Paris has evolved.
Ackislander is offline  
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Nov 12th, 2012, 12:50 PM
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Montpellier, a university town, is a nice spot to visit. We were pleasantly surprised with how much we liked it. It is close to wonderful beaches too.
DebitNM is offline  
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Nov 13th, 2012, 10:25 AM
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The Gorges de l'Ardeche have all sorts of kayak and canoe activities in a stunning setting.

If the teens want to see what a surfer dude town is like in France, you might want to spend some time in Hossegor, which is lovely. Don't miss the Pyla dune, the largest one in Europe.
kerouac is online now  
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Nov 13th, 2012, 11:11 AM
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Pont du Gard has kayaking, canoeing that teens might like.
Surfer towns/beaches are alway popular. A different world out there now for the young and young at heart. Our teens(2girls,@ 14) loved the medieval festival in Cordes sur Ciel, and the street fair in Avignon. Their only criteria in this 3 week summer trip was a hotel with a pool!!! Not every hight was possible but we did have several including one where in a violent thunderstorm the pool was hit by lightening, sizzled, parted like the red sea and now lives in the "do you remember" converstions. BTW the girls and I had just gotten out of the pool as the skies lite up!!! Luck was a lady that night(afternoon)!!!
amer_can is offline  
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Nov 13th, 2012, 11:16 AM
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It is true that if you are in France during any of the three weeks of the Avignon festival (in July), everybody will absolutely love it.
kerouac is online now  
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Nov 13th, 2012, 01:24 PM
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we spent quite a few years travelling to France and Italy with our "older" kids, and the best times we had were in cities where there are plenty of varied things to do, though we also enjoyed the dordogne and the loire very much as well.

IMO so long as you choose places with lots to do and see you'll be fine. what didn't work well for us were gites in the middle of nowhere and agriturismi where there was nothing to do but eat. apartments in a city or a house on the edge of a town where we could walk to buy bread, go to the cafe etc. worked best.

and not too much hopping about.
annhig is offline  
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Nov 13th, 2012, 02:19 PM
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Maybe after Paris you could hop on the TGV and go to Bordeaux, pick up a car and drive to Arcachon, see the Dune du Pyla and Cap Ferret, spend a day or two on the beach, then wend your way to the Dordogne, where there is an endless variety of things to do for people of all ages. And plenty of beautiful countryside to do it in. You kids would be fine wandering Sarlat by themselves, or visiting the prehistoric caves, or horseback riding, or seeing the myriad castles, or canoeing or kayaking or spelunking, or visiting fabulous outdoor markets. You could hike as much as you like without worrying about kids that age going off on their own to explore things.
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Nov 13th, 2012, 03:36 PM
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Well - you don;t really need to worry about "kids" that age going off to explore in paris either. These are adults - not small children - and I think one of the key things to make this kind of vacation work is to agree up front that all 4 of you wont be jioned at the hip the whole time.

When we took our teen/tween girls to London and Paris there were several days we decided to agree to disagree - and they did sights we had already seen - or shopped when we wanted to gallery hop.

Paris is really easy to get around and has tons of things to amuse everyone.
nytraveler is offline  
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Nov 13th, 2012, 05:47 PM
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I agree completely, but a city the size of Sarlat, that doesn't even have a public transportation system to figure out, but that is entirely navigable on foot, is probably less daunting for kids than, say, Paris.
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Nov 13th, 2012, 11:08 PM
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My parents left me free to explore Paris on my own when I was 15 and I never found it to be the least bit daunting.
kerouac is online now  
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Nov 14th, 2012, 12:01 AM
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Paris is so great , so nice of your parents to let you explore it on your own at 15 ! in the South Montpellier is a very nice city,many students, the beach is very close.
Lola55 is offline  
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Nov 14th, 2012, 03:54 AM
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Yes, but there isn't anything much of interest to young adults in Sarlat, at least the historic part. I don't know the rest of the town.

I think the prehistoric caves of Perigord would be very interesting, but Sarlat itself would elicit a large ho hum from most of my younger acquaintance.

We turned our teenagers loose in London when they were 16 and 13 respectively, but they were used to going to Boston on public transportation. There were limits, but we did not meet one day until after dinner (they went to the Hard Rock Cafe!). They survived.

Your hardest task may be to make them understand that normal constant texting, surfing, gaming, and even talking on their phones will cost an enormous amount of money unless you find a UK sim card with a cheap data plan for their phones. How much? $1500-$2000 is not unknown for an American young person using a phone the way s/he does at home.
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