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Suggestions for European Holiday with Young Children

Suggestions for European Holiday with Young Children

Dec 29th, 2014, 03:58 AM
  #1  
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Suggestions for European Holiday with Young Children

Hi all,

We are planning a skiing trip to Courcheval (have been going for many years) and we will be travelling with our two young boys (aged 4 and 6).

We are travelling from South Africa and always like to go somewhere in Europe for a week beforehand. We were thinking about London, Paris or somewhere in Italy, however we have been to all three numerous times already. I thought of trying somewhere new this time, but don't know enough about the cities that are "chlid-friendly" for this visit. I'd love to visit Belguim, Switzerland or Germany but I'm not 100% sure that there is a lot to keep the kids entertained here?

My question is where would you suggest we visit in Europe that:
a) isn't too far from The French Alps (travelling really long distances between locations with kids is a nightmare)
b) Is somewhere that the kids will really enjoy (having some cultural attractions but not limited to only museums and castles etc...)

Any suggestions welcome!
Thanks!
Aimeelloyd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 04:06 AM
  #2  
 
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What exactly do you mean by "child-friendly"? You'll find that every city has children in them and the parents manage to find ways to keep them entertained. :/

Your "b) Is somewhere that the kids will really enjoy (having some cultural attractions but not limited to only museums and castles etc...)" doesn't make a whole lotta sense with regards to a 4 year old and 6 year old.

If you go to London, Warwick Castle would be fun. Yes, it is 100 miles outside of London but the way it is set up is basically aimed at children.

If you go to Paris, I suggest a day or two at Euro Disney.
sparkchaser is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 04:53 AM
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Since you are traveling in winter, the activities for your kids will need to be primarily indoor activities, and you are right to think that, given their ages, museums and castles will quickly bore them.

Under the circumstances, I would go to an English-speaking city where you can find into indoor entertainments galore for your kids to enjoy.
sandralist is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 08:01 AM
  #4  
 
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I do think London is probably the best option thinking of child-friendly and winter (indoor) activities for a full week.

You did mention Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium of particular interest. Munich might work out: the city itself has some unique and interesting sites for children, like the Deutsches Museum (has over 1,000 exhibits geared towards children that are fun but educational) and the very large, traditional toy store Obletter Spielwaren. In the Alps you've got Neuschwanstein Castle, and maybe some snow based outdoor activities for a daytrip.

The only hiccup would be the distance from Courchevel: to make it manageable, the best bets in terms of low time and hassle are either driving via Zurich/Geneva, or flying to Turin and taking the train / flying to Geneva and taking the bus.
inspiredexplorer is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 08:45 AM
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I don't really understand (b), either. Kids that age don't need cultural attractions, they have no interest in culture and can barely read.

Switzerland would be great, you could have some scenic train rides. There is a very good toy store in Geneva (Karl Weber). There is a Swiss open air museum in Ballenberg that is good for children, images of various Swiss rural areas and homes, but I think that is closed in the winter.

I'd suggest Marseille. It's going to be warmer, for one thing (but not tropical), and the port there should be fun for kids, seeing lots of boats. you can go up on the hill to see the view (where Notre Dame is). You can take a boat ride out to the old chateau/prison (Chateau d'If). Cours Julien is an area in Marseille with lots of neat shops and restaurants, and a kids play area, and there are great larger parks in Marseille, also. There are some theme parks nearby, if you want (water parks and adventure park, maybe too old for those young kids). YOu could go to Cassis and do the boat tour of calanques, but a trip to Chateau d'If might be enough boats. They also have a children's museum in Marseille http://www.marseille.fr/siteculture/...jsp?page_id=61

In February, the highs should be in the 50s in the afternoon in Marseille.
Christina is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 08:58 AM
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"I'd love to visit Belguim, Switzerland or Germany but I'm not 100% sure that there is a lot to keep the kids entertained here?"

Residents of these countries have children and in winter entertain them as well. Waterparks are commonplace around the country - indoor ones in winter, of course. Most towns of some size have indoor pools and often kid-friendly play facilities.

The Mosel River Valley can be a good place to visit. Trier, Germany's oldest city, has its share of Roman stuff and museums; Luxembourg is next door. Trier has a pool facility - Das Bad an den Kaiserthermen - which is pretty kid-friendly.

http://www.trier-info.de/tl_files/im.../dasBad_01.jpg

Moselbad facility in Cochem (downriver, on the way to Koblenz, where Mosel meets Rhine)
http://www.rhein-eifel.tv/freizeitba...-hallenbad.jpg
Kiddie areas: http://www.moselbad.de/kinderland.html

Never-destroyed Marksburg Castle is just south of Koblenz and is open year-round for tours:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ubach_2012.jpg

http://www.marksburg.de/english/frame_nj.htm

It might be entertaining to spend a night in a castle in this area; Bacharach and Diez each have family rooms in their castle-hostels:

http://georg-dahlhoff.de/wp/wp-conte...1210207965.jpg

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8552/...853c7f43fb.jpg
Fussgaenger is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 09:19 AM
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Before I was old enough to go to school I had been to children's plays, children's musical events, the ballet and movies, plus learning venues like observatories, aquariums, didactic farms or factory tours. I consider all that "cultural."

I am sure the OP is grateful for all input, but I read the first post as asking for destinations that have more to offer for children than castles. Having traveled with children, I can attest that only some of them find castles interesting, and usually not for very long or more than one. Science-type museums can be great if they have English language labeling and interactivity, because even if the kids can't read, the parents can get them involved. Most small kids seem to really enjoy factory and farm tours, including things like cheese making or bakeries or chocolate factories, especially if they are kid friendly and let the kids touch some things.
sandralist is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:21 AM
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It would be helpful to know where you fly in and out of - London?

Also if you can share dates it could enable posters to link to something going on. Note that carnival ends on February 17.
nochblad is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:39 AM
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I know the Black Forest region of Germany has some excellent outdoor museums (Freilichtmuseum) with re-creations of buildings/mills/etc from bygone eras. The 4 year old might be a little young for it (although he could run around plenty as it is out of doors). The 6 year old is probably old enough to be interested to see how a water-powered sawmill works, and so on.

My hunch is that these open air museums exist in other regions as well - I'd check and see if you can find anything in the Mosel area since it appears to have so many other great sightseeing options according the posts above.
TexasAggie is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:39 AM
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Thanks for all your replies.

@sparkchaser: I didn't clarify myself particularly well - Obviously every city has children in them. I am looking for somewhere that my kids will enjoy as much as we will, without having to do "boring adult" things. For example, the Louvre offers an awesome treasure hunt for kids - something cultural but really really fun for young children. Thanks for the suggestions for EuroDisney and Warwick Castle.

@sandralist: Thanks for the suggestion.

@inspiredexplorer: thank you for your suggestions - some really nice ones there.

@Christina: My kids do enjoy cultural activities that are done in a fun way - as I mentioned the Louvre treasure hunts and things along these lines were loads of fun. Thanks for the suggestions, Marseilles isn't somewhere I'd considered but will definitely look into it further.

@Fussgaenger: Some lovely suggestions, will look into all of these - thanks a lot for the links.

@sandralist: You're exactly right. By "cultural" I mean everything that you mentioned in your second post. I don't just want to take them to churches and castles/chateaux which are generally plentiful on a European trip - whilst I love them, my kids will die of boredom before long

Thanks to all for the comments - I didn't clarify my question very well originally - I obviously realise that all these cities have children living in them - however not all of them are great to travel through for 4 or 5 days with kids. I want to find somewhere that we as adults can enjoy the sights and culture of the city but still engage my kids. I'm specifically taking them to Europe to experience the culture - different food, different people, different languages, different sights. I'm just trying to find the best and most fun way in which to expose them to all of these wonderful things.
Aimeelloyd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:44 AM
  #11  
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@nochblad: We aren't tied down to anywhere currently, we would select a flight based on where we were wanting to visit. Regarding dates, it would be fairly flexible, but working around the end of December/beginning of Jan.

@TexasAggie: Thanks for these suggestions, the Black Forest region is awesome and I'll investigate that further for sure.
Aimeelloyd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:50 AM
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sandralist: "I read the first post as asking for destinations that have more to offer for children than castles."

Yes - but the assumption that all castles are uniformly dull and offer children nothing is in error.

"Having traveled with children, I can attest that only some of them find castles interesting..."

The castle-hostels that I suggested - and in other hostels across Germany for that matter - actually cater specifically to families with small children. It's one thing to get a 45-minute castle tour where you can't touch anything. It's quite another thing to stay 2-3 nights in a once-for-reals-castle where you're encouraged to explore it from head to toe. There are common areas - game rooms, play areas, rooms with toys for young kids, etc. - where families can hang out and where kids can actually observe and interact with other (European) kids in a very informal manner that would be impossible in a hotel. Hostels are also routinely booked by school groups on outings; just having breakfast in a dining room with plenty of other kids around can be engaging when you're 5 or 6 years old. Hostels also offer seasonal programs for families that include stuff like crafts, face-painting, baking, that sort of thing.
Fussgaenger is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:50 AM
  #13  
 
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There is absolutely no problem anywhere keeping children entertained. Just choose whatever places you want to see, and you will find things for the kids immediately afterwards.

You seem to have forgotten to tell us how you plan to travel between the various places, which makes a huge amount of difference when giving suggestions.
kerouac is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:55 AM
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@nochblad: We aren't tied down to anywhere currently, we would select a flight based on where we were wanting to visit. Regarding dates, it would be fairly flexible, but working around the end of December/beginning of Jan.

You mean December 2015 / January 2016?
nochblad is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:56 AM
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@kerouac: I didn't mention it because nothing is booked or decided as yet. Once I've decided on where to go, we will pick the best method of travel between destinations.
Aimeelloyd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:56 AM
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@nochblad: Yes for 2015/2016
Aimeelloyd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 11:08 AM
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how about Amsterdam? loads to do, cultural and otherwise, the zoo, and a great children's science museum. And the floating chinese restaurant in the nearby harbour.

easy day trips to other parts of the Netherlands.
annhig is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 11:15 AM
  #18  
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@annhig: Wonderful suggestion, thank you!
Aimeelloyd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 11:46 AM
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my pleasure, Aimee.

we enjoyed it with our kids, albeit they were a bit older than yours at the time! [17 & 14 I think].
annhig is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 12:18 PM
  #20  
 
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If you rent a car, the possibilities are nearly infinite.
kerouac is offline  

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