Where to go in France with Children

Jul 29th, 2000, 12:59 PM
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Where to go in France with Children

My husband and I are taking our children, ages 11, 9 and 6 to France next June. We are trying to figure out which areas would be the most fun for the whole family, considering the children's idea of fun and ours are pretty different. Our main debate is whether to rent a villa somewhere with a pool so the kids can swim, and stay there for a week or so, OR travel around more and show them more of the country. We will have about 7-10 days for the trip, after spending a few days visiting relatives in Belgium. I would appreciate any advice!! Thank you.
Jul 29th, 2000, 03:58 PM
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We visited Chamonix, France this June. There were quite a few activities for kids to enjoy. Not many hotels had pools, but there is a huge public pool available. Besides hiking, there is the trip up the Aiguille Midi, a train to visit a glacier, a luge run (summer), bike rentals, and and active little town.
Jul 29th, 2000, 04:26 PM
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Perigord may be the answer. Rent a house (a great many have pools) and do day trips. There's horseback riding, boating, canoeing, and other water sports, as well as plenty of walking and hiking areas. The area is crammed with history - fortified castles, villages and churches, abbeys and cathedrals, and wonderful museums. On top of that, there are all sorts of caves; everything from underground caverns (one so large that you can take a boat trip on the underground river!) to caves in the sides of cliffs, many of which were inhabited by prehistoric people all the way to the one that was still in use in the 1950's. The area is popular with families, as it is inexpensive compared to other parts of France, and has so much to offer. You're near the Bordeaux wine region, with many chateaux and vineyards open to the public. The food is incredible, and the markets for food shopping are overwhelming in their selection. There's a monkey forest, and a preserve for eagles near Rocamadour. There are fantasy gardens and mazes nearby.

The only traveling I've done with children has been in the U.S., and a 'home' works well. There's lots of room for them to spread out - they can watch TV in the living room while you can relax in another room with a good book. They can have their own bedrooms where their stuff isn't underfoot (eliminating a lot of stress for everyone).

Whenever we travel (4-8 women), we rent a house or apartment. The biggest advantage is if someone isn't up to going out for the day, she isn't stuck in a hotel room. If one of the children isn't feeling well, one parent can stay home with him/her, while the other can take the others out, and the stays-at-home are comfortable. With a kitchen, you can eat in for most meals (saving money and making comfort food!) and if you're beat from sightseeing, you can eat dinner in (the children won't be falling asleep in a restaurant).

Packing and unpacking every couple of days, then driving or taking a train to the next destination, is very taxing, even on adults. Add to that everything in a foreign language, you can expend a lot of unnecessary energy. I can picture the six-year-old toward the end of the trip, dragging his/her feet and whining (hey, I'm a lot older than that, and that's *my* reaction after several days!).
Jul 29th, 2000, 04:36 PM
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I agree with Elvira. We just returned from a 15 day trip to France in June (1 week Paris and 1 week Perigord or Dordogne region). We have a 7 year old and it was a fantastic place to explore: Prehistoric cave art, stalagtites, prehistoric towns. It is not overly crowded, the scenery is breathtaking and the food is totally wonderful - this is fois gras region, after all! We did not rent a villa but I think it is a great idea.
Jul 29th, 2000, 08:22 PM
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Thank you so much for your responses. I agree that sometimes kids need a home base and they don't necessarily need to be driven all over the place in order to experience a new country. That's the problem with balancing their needs and abilities versus ours! Thank you for recommending Perigord. I will definitely look more closely there. Barbara, I am wondering what you did with your 7 yr. old in Paris and what hotel accomodations you used in Southern France? Thanks. Nan

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