From world-class beaches to historic towns to thrilling water sports, the Cote d’Azur offers some of the best family holidays in France. Yet beyond Monte Carlo, St. Tropez and Cannes, there are also many lesser-known destinations that will reward you with a wonderful experience.
Known as the “Ville Fleurie” (City of Flowers), Saint-Laurent-du-Var is a charming, lively seaside resort on the outskirts of Nice and Cagnes. This family-friendly destination includes soft white beaches, a half-mile long promenade stretching from the marina to the shopping centre, and an old town with an 11th century church. Additionally, the area is known for its biodiversity and boasts an amazing variety of bird and marine species. There are also water activities aplenty, including snorkelling, scuba diving and boating. Alternatively, you could treat your children to timeless artworks and take them to the nearby Renoir Museum. The stunning Phoenix Parc is also only a fifteen-minute drive away.
Summary: If you would like to be close to a major Cote d’Azur destination such as Nice, while still enjoying the relative peacefulness of a smaller resort, then you should definitely consider Saint-Laurent-du-Var.
Where to stay: Residence Héliotel Marine is just across from the marina and includes an outdoor pool and tennis courts.
Perched prettily between mountains and sea, Menton offers an idyllic spot in which families can unwind. Blending French and Italian culture, this peaceful, lemon-scented town has a micro-climate warmer than the rest of the country. Menton also has the dual distinction of being known as both ‘the pearl of France’ and a ‘town of art and history’,so if you would like a family holiday with a dose of culture, this may be the spot for you. The town’s colourful houses, intermingled with glittering street lights, are certainly a sight to behold when reflected upon the sea in the evening. But Menton has plenty more to offer beyond picturesqueness, including a mixture of stony and sandy child-friendly beaches, exotic gardens, a medieval old town, an attractive harbour area and even a Jean Cocteau museum. For an extra-special family meal, make your way to the two Michelin-starred Mirazur restaurant. And for an exhilarating day out with the children, head to the Menton Water Sports Centre or the thrilling Village De Fous amusement park, each about an hour’s drive away.
Summary: If you are looking for a tranquil family holiday that blends beach-based fun with a chance to enjoy some history and culture, then Menton is the place.
Where to stay: Les Rivages du Parc, which is surrounded by a small park.
Located in the Var region with the Esterel mountains as its backdrop, St. Raphael is a town sandwiched between forest and sea. A hub of nature surrounded by greenery, the town offers a variety of gardens, sandy beaches and rocky coves to explore. Families can spend a day picnicking by one of the trickling creeks of the Corniche d’Or or walking the stunning Chemin des Douaniers (Customs Way) coastal path. Other activities include Water World with its inflatable, lake-based obstacle course, the Luna Park funfair, and boat trips to various sights, including St. Tropez. You can also enjoy a round of golf, a visit to the Bonaparte Garden or a stroll around St. Raphael’s old town area.
Summary: If you and your family would like to experience forest and mountain scenery while still enjoying a fun beach holiday, then this is the place for you.
Where to stay: Holiday Village Cap Esterel, which is fully pedestrianised, meaning that children can walk around safely.
Hopefully, the above ideas have given you some inspiration for planning a family holiday to France and the Cote d’Azur. Whichever destination you choose, you are guaranteed stunning scenery and searing blue seas that will live in your children’s memories for a very long time to come.