France

Ultimate guide to things to do in France with kids

France is full of activities, world-class museums and a wealth of outdoor activities, often well-tailored to appeal to kids of all ages. Take fun tours in the capital, a family bike ride through countryside, experience a local seasonal festival in the riviera, or explore the winter wonderlands of the Alps and Pyrenees mountains.

Normandy kids activities
The girls 'j'adore' France. Picture: Geordie Torr

There is the opportunity to immerse the whole family in French culture with rural farm-stays and camping, and a world of opportunities for kids to test their tastebuds with iconic French favourites – freshly baked croissants and baguettes, boeuf bourguignon (beef stew), croque monsieur (ham and cheese toastie), and escargot (snails) or cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs) for the more adventurous.

Paris

The kids will love

Paris

Paris is alive with activities for kids – visit the Museum of Natural History and head to the Children’s Gallery for an interactive treasure hunt exhibition, take a chilling early morning tour of underground Les Catacombs, catch a puppet show and explore the playgrounds at Jardin du Luxembourg, take an eccentric tour of the sewers at the Musee des Egouts, have a picnic and experience the carnival games for young children at Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

French Alps & Pyrenees

The Alpine resorts of both the French Alps and the Pyrenees region abound with adrenaline-filled activities – skiing, snowboarding, alpine walks during the winter and white water rafting, kayaking, paddle-boarding, rock-climbing, paragliding during all other seasons.

The south of France is full of sunny seaside towns. Credit: Shutterstock: leoks

French Riviera

Family-friendly festivals run year-round throughout the French Riviera, notably the Nice Carnaval in February, local food and harvest festivals throughout September and October and charming Christmas markets throughout the Riviera and Provence. Nice is a top choice for kids who will enjoy gelato on the pebble beaches and exploring the historical sites of Old Town. 

Corsica

Corsica is home to idyllic beaches perfect for young children. Spend lazy days on the picturesque beaches, go snorkelling in the clear-blue waters, visit Europe’s largest tortoise and turtle sanctuary, sail, kayak and take a sailing trip around the ‘Island of Beauty’.

Best time to travel

Generally speaking, the best time to visit France is in spring, April to June, or autumn, September to November. These periods are relatively uncrowded (excluding the French Easter holidays in April), and the weather is reasonably mild and pleasant in most parts of the country, particularly during spring. 

Avoiding the French holidays is an important consideration as many French people choose to holiday in their own country – this encompasses mid-July to late August, as well as the Easter holidays which fall during April. The reason for this is that most businesses and parts of the country close down, except for the tourist industry itself – large crowds at popular sites and traffic on the roads are what’s to be expected during these periods.

October through March is the low season for travel through most parts of France. Accommodation and tourist site prices are approximately 50% lower during this period. Keep in mind when visiting more rural regions, that many hotels and restaurants may close for the duration of this low season. December to March is high season for ski resorts in the Jura Mountains and French Alps.

Things to do in France with...

Man on a bench relaxing, checking his phone and enjoying the summer sunrise over the city of Lyon, France.

Getting around France

Train is efficient and often the preferred way to travel around France. The national railway network SNCF is extensive with discounts that include children under four travel for free and children aged four to eleven travel for half price.

Car hire is also efficient, independent and can work out in some cases to be cheaper than train travel, depending on the route. It is a useful form of transport for visiting the more remote and rural areas of France. Car hire is usually cheaper when arranged online ahead of departure rather than walk-in rentals. The most important thing to be aware of is insurance and collision-damage waivers (CDW) – these vary greatly between companies and you can be liable for up to 100% of a car’s value without included purchase of CDW. Children under ten are not permitted to ride in the front seat and must use a front-facing child seat or booster. Children under 13kg must use a backward-facing child seat.

Bike rentals are available in most towns in France for approximately $20 to $25 per day. Most major cities have automated bike rental systems with access points around the city, where you provide credit card details and are charged by the hour. France is known for its cycling and most cities are very bike-friendly with bike paths in the major cities and many rural areas with networks of secondary roads for cyclists. Young children are permitted to be towed in a bike trailer.

Normandy kids activities
Honfluer is home to this carousel and the largest wooden church in France! Picture: Geordie Torr

More about France for families

Accommodation 

  • Family hotels, particularly for larger or adjoining rooms, can be hard to find and more expensive throughout France. Serviced apartments, such as found on Airbnb, can be both a convenient and affordable option for families in most French cities, with the added advantage of a fully furnished kitchen and laundry.
  • Camping and farm-stays (fermes auberges) are popular for travelling French families – self-catering and affordable, these options allow you to enjoy the French countryside and are a fantastic way for kids to make friends.

What to pack

  • Portable and versatile baby and toddler essentials – baby carriers, portable changing mats, et cetera – are recommended. Most French cities, with cobbled sidewalks and many stairs, are too difficult to navigate with any strollers, and are not permitted at some sites and museums. Baby changing facilities are rare. 
  • Car seats, required for all children under the age of ten, are available for rent, but for very high prices – if possible, it’s recommended to bring fold-away seats from home for any car travel.
What’s on?

The best annual events for families in Adelaide

Feb/March – Adelaide Fringe

You’ll find family and kid friendly shows at Adelaide’s wild and wonderful Fringe festival.

March - Adelaide Festival

Australia’s premier Arts festival showcases theatre, world-class musicians, dance, writers and visual art.

March – Adelaide 500

This motorsport spectacular is packed with action and entertainment for families. The 2021 Superloop Adelaide 500 will occur on revised dates in 2021.

March – South Australia History Festival

Enjoy hundreds of events such as talks to workshops exploring the local history.

March – WOMADelaide

Enjoy family friendly performances and workshops by the world’s best traditional and contemporary musicians, dancers and DJs.

May – DreamBig Children’s Festival

This arts festival for schools and families is the largest of its kind in the world.

September – Royal Adelaide Show

Experience animals, rides, food and entertainment as the country comes to the city.

October – OzAsia Festival

Australia’s biggest Asian arts festival.

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