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France, Loire Valley: things to do with a 13 month old

(6 Posts)
Wigeon Thu 13-Aug-09 15:02:27

Am posting this in "living overseas" rather than travel because it'd be great to get some advice from someone living in France - what do people do day to day with toddlers? How do you find where playgroups / playgrounds / little splash parks etc are?

We are going on holiday to the Loire Valley next week smile(first staying near Gien / Briare, then near Romorantin-Lanthenay) and DD won't want to get dragged round chateaux and wineries all day long, but is easily amused by simple things like playgrounds and farm animals. We might even be brave enough to take her to a French playgroup (I have rusty A-level French). But how do you find out where these non-touristy things happen?

We will probably drag her round the odd chateau too!

Thanks!

castille Thu 13-Aug-09 19:01:56

I don't live in the Loire valley but I'd be surprised if you found a group at this time of year - everything stops in school holidays. The French don't go in for mother-and-baby groups anyway - they prefer to drop their offspring at garderies and have some child-free time!

Look up the websites of the towns you're staying in/near - many have lists of facilities for la petite enfance, groups, playgrounds, etc, and local swimming pools (though check summer opening times - some pools close for part of the holidaysshock)

But at 13 months she won't mind chateaux, particularly as they usually have such lovely gardens to toddle around.

Ewe Thu 13-Aug-09 19:18:32

I have just come back from the Loire Valley and my suggestions would be the following.

Luluparc

Beauval Zoo has a petting and feeding area, DD loved the penguins and monkeys.

Clos Luce, fab gardens and things to do

The beach near where we stay (Montrichard) has a few playground type things but apart from that I didn't see any in the two weeks I was there. My in-laws (who live there) said that it's not common over there and when you're driving about you will see that most people have big swing sets and slides in their gardens. Montrichard also has a good swimming pool, indoor and out, right next to the beach. They don't let men in shorts in for swimming though so it is speedos only if you decide to go!

Loches market is a nice day out (Tue and Sat, I think), DD enjoyed looking at all the stalls, fruit, veg, plants and it had a merry go round that she likes and fountains for her to look at. The Broccantes are always good fun, basically like car boot sales full of french tat!

Highly recommend the sparkling Rose from Simoneau Cave in St Georges sur cher if you do manage to get some tasting in. Have a fantastic time, we had a lovely couple of weeks over there.

Ewe Thu 13-Aug-09 19:22:39

Chenonceau Chateau also went down well as it has ducks, it's gorgeous but very touristy and gets busy in peak season.

Wigeon Thu 13-Aug-09 20:08:20

Wow, great, thank you very much everyone! All those places look really nice (have been checking out all the websites) and thank you for the advice about playgroups and playgrounds. Am getting quite excited about the hol now!

Anyone else with experiences to share do shout!

Wigeon Sat 29-Aug-09 19:15:31

Just wanted to let everyone know - we are back and we went to:

Beauval Zoo - wonderful! Not sure if DH or DD enjoyed it more!

Chenonceau chateau - as Ewe said, very touristy but enjoyable. Actually enjoyed Blois chateau and La Ferte St Aubin chateau more - fewer tourists but both very attractive. The one at La Ferte is rather shabby chic in a very nice way, and has some crazy bonus things like two whole old (stationary) trains you can go in (one is a former Orient Express), a small farm and two little islands to explore.

Dead right about the lack of playgrounds.

Thanks again for the advice.

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