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As our closest European neighbour, France is a perennial favourite for UK family holidays. While the north is a short ferry ride across the Channel, the climate is as unpredictable as it is back home in Blighty. Because of this, holidaymakers flock to the south of France by car and plane for its warm weather, beautiful scenery and relaxed culture.
Stretching from the Marais Poitevin national park to the Mediterranean sea, the south of France has plenty of destinations perfect for a summer holiday. We’ve turned to the well-travelled Mumsnetters of our Holidays forum for their recommendations for where to take the kids in the South of France.
Here’s our pick of the best places in the south of France for family holidays.
What are the best family-friendly destinations in the south of France?
"Provence is such a lovely area. Rousillion is a hilltop town where the rocks are a lovely red. Les Baux de Provence is a gorgeous medieval fortress/town built into the hills. Near to Cavaillon there a bright blue beautiful grotto pond under white cliffs that bushes into a crazy river in spring when the snows melt in the Alps (think it’s called Isle sur la Sorgue). Then there’s the Roman Pont du Gard in between Avignon and Nimes. The lavender fields. Plus the beautiful towns of Arles, Nimes, Avignon etc" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Honeyroar
Known for its rolling lavender fields, picturesque villages and Mediterranean coastline, Provence makes a beautiful setting for a family holiday. Kids will love the medieval fortresses at Avignon and Les Baux de Provence, endless countryside to explore and sandy beaches with calm, warm waters to paddle in. The whole family can brush up on their French at one of the region’s many traditional markets, as fewer locals speak English than in more northerly areas. The Provencal climate is perfect for sleeping under canvas, or book an authentic villa for a week of pure relaxation.
Main airport: Marseille
"Nice has plenty going on - museums, tourist train, markets. If you want the beach and not to travel too far from Nice, Juan Les Pins wins hands down. From Nice you could also get the train along the coast into Italy. Ceriale, Loano etc are very nice towns and much cheaper than the French part of the Riviera" - recommended by Mumsnet user, MissAmbrosia
France’s second-largest city, Nice is situated on the stunning Cote D’Azur and boasts an amazing sandy beach and lots of parks, so don’t forget to pack a picnic rug. Opting to stay in or near Nice is a great option if you’re travelling without a car, as the transport links are cheap, family friendly and easy to use. Take a day trip to Italy or Monaco via TER train, or catch the bus to one of the idyllic towns and villages nearby. The markets in Nice’s Old Town are not to be missed, including an epic Christmas market with an ice skating rink if you’re there during the festive season.
Nearest airport: Nice Cote D’Azur (4 miles)
3. Cavalaire Sur Mer
"Cavalaire-sur-Mer (just around the corner from St. Tropez) is lovely, very laid back, nice beach, good range of restaurants, would be great for a family holiday I think" - recommended by Mumsnet user, AdaColeman
A Mumsnet favourite, this sleepy village on the Cote D’Azur has a beautiful beach with calm, shallow waters, and is surrounded by forests, hills and rivers. Perfect for a quiet family break, Cavalaire sur Mer has plenty of shops and places to eat, alongside unspoiled natural landscapes to explore. Kids will love the traditional carousel in the village square, and Mumsnetters say it’s a great area for camping.
Nearest airport: Toulon Hyeres, 26 miles
"Right down in the far south western tip. Montpellier westwards. The coastal towns are far less busy than the south eastern half. Ceret, very near the border with Spain, is a pretty town we were very taken with" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Chicchicchicchiclana
Stretching across France’s border with Spain, the Pyrenees mountain range makes for a dramatic backdrop to the towns and cities of south-west France. Carcassonne is a fun-packed day out, with an entire medieval fortress to explore, knights in full regalia to say bonjour to and fascinating shops to spend pocket money in. Travel into the mountains and take a dip in one of the lakes, head to the beach at Biarritz or seek out one of the area’s natural hot springs.
Main airport: Toulouse
"There's tons to see and do in the Languedoc and although the beaches are fantastic, we love spending lazy days at local spots beside the river or at some of the stunning lakes. If it's a real scorcher at the villa, then it's worth driving to the local lakes in the High Languedoc National park as it is a couple of degrees cooler!" - recommended by Mumsnet user, aznerak
Now officially part of Occitanie, the Languedoc-Roussillon region runs along the south-west coast of France and a is a major wine producer. Mumsnetters recommend exploring the region’s lakes for a cooler day out and a spot of wild swimming. If you’re looking for a beach holiday, Espiguette is an unspoiled golden sandy beach kids will play on for hours, or head to Banyuls sur Mer for a beach lined with restaurants and cafes.
Main airport: Montpellier
"I loved Menton in France. It's also so easy to hop on the train along all the South Coast of France and get off at different stops" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Retrogal
Just along the coast from Nice you’ll find Menton, one of the most beautiful towns on the French Riviera. Its pretty pastel and terracotta coloured houses, alongside a scrupulously well maintained beach make it a Mumsnet favourite. Take the kids to see the massive lilypads at Jardin Botanique et Exotique Val Rahmeh, discover how jam is made at Confituriere Herbin or catch the Petit Train to Palmes beach for a day spent building sandcastles.
Nearest airport: Nice (16 miles)
"I have to say Montpellier. I've been going there regularly for 20-odd years and I love it. Main line train station, east to get to Nimes if you fancy a trip and the walks and villages around the area are gorgeous" - recommended by Mumsnet user, phoolani
Just a few miles inland from the Mediterranean coast is the vibrant city of Montpellier. With excellent transport links and plenty to see and do with kids, it’s another perfect choice for a family trip to the south of France. Be sure to pay a visit to the zoo and botanical gardens, take a trip to the beach at Carnon or Espiguette and there’s an ace aquarium for those rare but possible rainy days.
Nearest airport: Montpellier (6 miles)
Is the south of France family friendly?
The south of France is very family friendly. While English is spoken less outside of the main cities, and shop opening hours can be tricky to get used to, you’ll find a warm welcome and plenty to do with kids. Along with countless sandy beaches, a warm climate and beautiful countryside, the south of France has campsites galore, lakes for swimming in and pretty villages to explore.
When’s the best time to visit the south of France?
Temperatures soar in high summer, with August being the hottest and busiest time of year for French holidaymakers heading south. So it’s best to visit the south of France in May, June or September if you can.
Do you need to hire a car to travel around the south of France?
For the more remote parts of the region, a car is recommended. However if you’re visiting the coast you can hop on a TER train to get around, and most of the larger resorts have shuttle buses from nearby villages to the centre ville.
How we chose our recommendations
Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which destinations in the south of France were being recommended. We then did some online research, looking at which regions and family hotels had won accolades or been featured in ‘best’ lists across trusted travel publications as well as user reviews. Having collated all that information, we then narrowed our list down to the best places in the south of France for families at the moment.
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