From the brilliant sea and sun to history and nature, the French Riviera — known as the Côte d’Azur, or the Azure Coast, due to its location along the sparkling blue Mediterranean — makes a lovely area to visit with family. The French Riviera comprises 46 coastal municipalities in southeastern France, including the popular cities of Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Saint-Tropez and Saint- Jean-Cap-Ferrat, as well as Monte Carlo in Monaco. While the area lures celebrities, jet-setters and superyachts, the French Riviera also proves one of the best places in France to visit with kids, as it abounds with family- friendly activities and offers the perfect city beach vacation.
Cruise along the coastline with kids in tow and stop at one of the many cities for a litany of outdoor activities, sightseeing and adventures. Nothing compares to arriving by sea at any of the ports in the fabled Provence region, the birthplace of joie de vivre. Start your journey in Barcelona and choose a five- to 11-night cruise up the coast with stops in Marseille, Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Nice and other ports aboard Adventure Life’s luxurious small ships on one of its luxury French Riviera cruises for 2022/2023. Say “Oui” to Royal Caribbean’s Côte d’Azur cruises, calling on cities like Nice, Menton and Èze-sur-Mer. Experience all the amazing coastline offers with France and French Riviera itineraries from Celebrity Cruises, or discover the meaning of oh là là on a journey with Azamara.
While on land, take a deep dive into what makes this region so spectacular, with plenty of activities to ensure you and your kids make the most of your vacation.
Let’s begin in Nice, the beating heart of the French Riviera and a good base for exploring the coast. Here you’ll find an easily walkable town center and historic sites — explore Old Town’s narrow, winding streets; artist galleries; and the flower market — plus cute playgrounds where the kids can run around. Take them skateboarding or roller skating on the famous Promenade des Anglais before heading to Promenade du Paillon to romp around the wonderful waterfall fountains. By all means, soak up some sun on the beach, but bring along water shoes or sandals to protect everyone’s feet from the pebbles — large, flat, gray stones called galets. To reward the kids for a fun-filled day, a visit to Confiserie Florian sweet shop and factory will put them in candy heaven.
Presenting an old-town vision of Mediterranean beauty, Antibes offers a stunning spot to watch luxury yachts coming and going from the marina. Find a prime viewpoint — and also a cool spot for kids — at Fort Carré overlooking the sea. Don’t miss a visit to Marineland, the largest marine animal park in Europe, known for its abundance of sea life and dolphin shows. To introduce a little culture to your kids while on vacation, stop at Grimaldi Castle and Museum. Along with its beautiful outdoor terraces and turrets, it displays art in an approachable and non-stuffy manner. Like nearly all other stops on the French Riviera, the beaches in Antibes feature easy access from the city. If your kids enjoy being on the water, book a daytrip sail to explore the surrounding coastal area.
Now to more fun activities to fill up any kid’s French Riviera bucket list.
Azur Park, located in Gassin, just outside of Saint-Tropez, will amuse the whole family with attractions, rides, games and shows. From two 18-hole miniature golf courses to trampolines, bumper boats and high-adrenaline rides like Sky Rider and Ejection Seat, this place has something for every age. And after an adventure-filled day, on-site La Rôtisserie offers a pleasant and festive setting to unwind and enjoy homemade delicacies. Another day, another amusement park: Head to Le Village des Fous (The Village of Fools), a two-acre leisure park just 30 minutes west of Nice, where kids can play like crazy in bouncing areas, slides and water games, treetop adventure courses and more.
Adventurous kids who want to do more than play at the beach will have a blast caving at Vallée du Loup, just 50 minutes from Nice, Cannes or Antibes and open to ages 6 and up. A guide leads visitors on an expedition of a cave system to see huge limestone plateaus. Or head to Le Bois des Lutins, perfect for a half-day of fun for your active kids. Taking center stage, the tree village presents a suspended adventure course with bridges, slides and more. For kids who like to bounce, Ludiparc outdoor jump and trampoline park also features a spacious green area for a lovely picnic in the country. Enjoyable for toddlers and older kids alike, this spot offers a break from the sea and the sun.
Immerse the family in nature at La Réserve Biologique des Monts d’Azur, where guides lead you through the unspoiled countryside to view wildlife (deer, wild boar and bison). It even has a park for picnicking plus overnight accommodations in ecolodges and a little mansion.
Spend the day at Base Nature Frejus, an ex-naval base transformed into an outdoor playground along the beach … great for biking and roller skating and featuring one of the best sandy beaches of the Côte d’Azur for kids. Last but certainly not least, if you want your kids to broaden their horizons, Éco’Parc Mougins offers science exhibitions, workshops and interactive touch and learn areas, with free access for kids to learn
Domaine du Mas de Pierre Hotel Resort & Spa
Located close to Cap Ferrat Zoo and Marineland, the 5-star Relais & Châteaux property offers luxurious comfort in a relaxed atmosphere, along with a kids club, children’s play area, cribs, highchairs and babysitting services.
2320 Route des Serres, Saint- Paul-de-Vence
Le Mas de Chastelas
Just a five-minute walk from the beach, the legendary hotel offers a range of family-friendly rooms and suites. Enjoy the heated pool, tennis courts, pitching green and gourmet restaurant or take the shuttle to Saint-Tropez beach clubs and town. Babysitting services available.
2 Chemin du Chastelas, Gassin
Epitomizing French Riviera culture and vibes, art-filled Le Negresco ensures easy family stays in its spacious suites and deluxe rooms and treats kids like royalty. Spend the day at the Beach Club overlooking Baie des Anges, then unwind at Michelin-starred Le Chantecler or chic brasserie La Rotonde. Babysitting available.
37 Promenade des Anglais, Nice
La Bastide Saint Antoine
Savor fine dining and stunning views in a refined setting, surrounded by lime and chestnut trees and overlooking the bay of Cannes. Celebrated French chef Jacques Chibois presents a thoughtful menu highlighting bold flavors and aromas.
48 Av. Henri Dunant, Grasse
Le Restaurant at La Colombe d’Or
The intimate world-famous hotel set on the edge of the medieval town of Saint-Paul- de-Vence has presented an exquisite menu for decades, from fresh produce to Provençal classics. Choose from seating indoors, a private dining room and the picturesque garden terrace.
La Colombe d’Or Hotel, Place du Général de Gaulle, Saint- Paul-de-Vence
Restaurant La Passagère
The Michelin-starred restaurant focuses on local seafood in an airy setting designed with Art Deco flair. Its dishes are just as stunning as the plateware and design, while its signature “pearl in a blown- sugar shell” dessert is a must.
Hôtel Belles Rives, 33 Blvd. Edouard Baudoin, Antibes
INFO ON THE GO
For visitors not arriving by cruise ship, Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, the largest airport on the French Riviera for passenger travel, boasts more than 120 direct flights to destinations worldwide. Transit the 15 miles between the airport and Nice via a direct tramway link, bus or a flat-rate taxi. Express trains also connect Nice and other French and major European cities.
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