- Ride a colorful carousel in the charming neighborhood of Monmarte
- See playful goats and sample delicious cheeses at a cheese farm
- Swim in the incredible blue-green waters of Calanque National Park
- Rent roller skates or scooters on Nice's Promenade des Anglais
|Day 1||Arrive in Paris||Paris|
|Day 2||Marais Pastry & Chocolate Tour||Paris|
|Day 3||Guided Family Tour of Montmartre||Paris|
|Day 4||Train to Tours, Drive to Amboise, Tour Château de Chambord||Amboise|
|Day 5||Canoe the Cher River, Château de Chenonceau||Amboise|
|Day 6||Château d'Amboise, Villandry & Cheese Farm Visit||Amboise|
|Day 7||Drive to Aix-en-Provence, Explore the Aix Markets||Aix-en-Provence|
|Day 8||Cassis & Calanque National Park, Private Boat Tour||Aix-en-Provence|
|Day 9||Drive to Nice, Sillans-la-Cascade & Villecroze, Château de Berne||Nice|
|Day 10||Ferry to Île Sainte-Marguerite||Nice|
|Day 11||Free Day in Nice||Nice|
|Day 12||Drive to Marseille, Explore Marseille||Marseille|
|Day 13||Cruise & Swim in the Calanques||Marseille|
|Day 14||Depart Marseille|
Day 1: Arrive in Paris
Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights! Upon arrival at the airport, you'll be picked up by a private driver and transferred to your hotel. After taking some time to settle in at your accommodations, head out for your first look at the city. France's capital is considered the European epicenter of culture, art, fashion, and food–not to mention a rich history that spans more than 2,000 years.
Start your immersion into Parisian life with a stroll along the Seine, a 483-mile (777 km) river that runs through the city. If the kids want to get out on the water, there are several boat tours available that can take you along some of the prominent sights that bank the water. Explore the narrow alleys and cozy cafés, or visit some of the city's kid-friendly museums, such as the Cité des Sciences ("Science & Industry Museum"), with exhibits specifically designed for children, or the Natural History Museum and Zoo, which has rooms dedicated to the evolution of various species, and an interactive kids gallery.
Of course, nothing says Paris like a trip to the Eiffel Tower! Built for the 1889 World's Fair, this 1,063-foot (324 m) steel structure is one of the city's primary landmarks. The tower consists of three levels, with the highest platform sitting more than 900 feet (276 m) above the ground. There are elevators to take visitors to the upper levels, but active kids might enjoy making the 600-step climb to the second level, which has an observation deck that showcases the whole city. If heights aren't a concern, ascend in a glass-walled elevator all the way to the top, where you'll find breathtaking, unobstructed views.
Day 2: Marais Pastry & Chocolate Tour
Eating pastries and enjoying art are synonymous with French culture, and you'll get to do plenty of both today! This morning, you'll head to the Le Marais neighborhood with a local guide. Located in the 4th arrondissement, this vibrant district is home to historical sites, art, shopping, and some of the best cafés and pâtisseries in the city. Your guide will take you through the area, stopping to sample delicious pastries, macarons, and French chocolates.
After all those sweets, the kids might want to burn off some energy, so head to Le Marais' Place des Vosges square, one of the oldest planned squares in the city. This lovely park features a central fountain, lots of green space, and a grape arbor with benches to relax on. Other parks in the Marais that the little ones might like include Square Leopold Achille, which has a play area and climbing structures, or Square Charles-Victor Langlois, where you'll find slides and bouncy toys. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local café near your hotel.
Day 3: Guided Family Tour of Montmartre
Lose yourself in the narrow streets of Montmartre with a family-focused tour that takes you into the heart of this charming hilltop district. Your guide will escort you through the neighborhood, sharing the history and anecdotes that surround it while entertaining the kids with jokes and riddles. Visit the Basilica de Sacré-Cœur ("Basilica of the Sacred Heart") and admire masterpieces by famous painters and writers, then let the kids ride the beautifully preserved carousel at the base of the hill by the church. You'll also get to see Monmarte's two windmills–the only windmills left in the entire city.
Day 4: Train to Tours, Drive to Amboise, Tour Château de Chambord
This morning, depart via train to Tours and the Loire Valley, a ride of approximately two hours. Upon arrival, you'll pick up your rental car and drive to Amboise, which takes about 35 minutes. After you check in at your hotel, take a stroll through the city at your leisure. Start in the town center, then make your way across the bridge over the Loire River. This gives you some of the best views not only of the city and surrounding countryside but also two of the most important historical monuments in the region: the Château d'Amboise and the Maison du Clos Lucé, better known as Leonardo da Vinci's House.
If you happen to arrive on a Sunday, be sure to check out the weekend open-air market. Located in the Place du Marchée near the river, this farmer-style market offers local wines, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables, as well as regional crafts. The kids might also enjoy visiting Amboise's Mini Châteaux or Mini Castle Park, a local park with 45 miniature replicas of Loire castles!
This afternoon, drive to Château de Chambord, one of Loire Valley's most popular destinations. Built in the 1500s as a hunting lodge for Francis I, this castle is a beautiful example of French Renaissance architecture. Take a self-guided tour of the château, exploring the double spiral staircase, which two people can go up or down without ever meeting, the royal apartments, and learn more about royal hunts. Older kids will be fascinated by the fairy-tale atmosphere, and the little ones will enjoy a romp in the gardens. Later, return to your accommodations in Amboise to relax.
Day 5: Canoe the Cher River, Château du Chenonceau
Head to the Cher River for a canoe tour, where you'll pass under the magnificent Château du Chenonceau arches and have a chance to visit the castle itself. This easy canoe ride takes about two hours, taking your family along the glasslike, peaceful waters of the Cher, with views of waterfowl and other birds as you pass under the historic Chenonceau. Originally built in the 12th century, the château was rebuilt in the 1500s and currently houses a rich collection of ornate art and furniture of the time period.
After you bring your canoes to shore, you can explore the castle and grounds, Visit the kitchens and galleries, and be sure to walk through the gardens, where the kids will find a large maze that encompasses nearly 2.5-acres (1 ha) and can take hide-and-seek to the next level! The castle also has a self-serve crêperie for quick meals, as well as a picnic area if you want to pack a lunch.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Château d'Amboise, Villandry & Cheese Farm Visit
See more of the Loire Valley with the help of a local guide today. Your first stop will be the Château d'Amboise, the residence of French kings from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Rising from the banks of the Loire—a UNESCO World Heritage River—the château was once a center of luxury and culture. Your guide will describe its illustrious past and famous residents, from artists like Leonardo da Vinci to controversial figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots, while you marvel at the stunning architecture and surrounding landscape.From here, you'll continue to Château de Villandry. The last of the great chateaux of the Loire built during the Renaissance, you will delight in its elegant architecture and gardens that have been famous for hundreds of years. Your final stop will be at a local cheese farm, where you'll learn about the cheesemaking process, meet the goats (sure to be the highlight of the day for the kids!), and, of course, enjoy a sample or two.
Day 7: Drive to Aix-en-Provence, Explore the Aix Markets
Your next destination is Aix-en-Provence, a city rich in heritage, art, culture, and education, with landscapes that were the inspiration for painters such as Cézanne, Picasso, and Kandinsky. After you get settled at your hotel, head to one of the city's most popular spots—the markets. You can visit the flower market and see the fresh-cut blooms and plants and the food market to find local specialties such as macarons, cheeses, olive oil, honey, and fantastic local wines.
Day 8: Cassis & Calanque National Park, Private Boat Tour
Visit the coastal town of Cassis and take a private boat tour of Calanques National Park. Your guide will meet you at your hotel, and you'll head to Cassis, a beautiful, old-world village on the edge of the park. Calanques, which are big rocky coves that form steep, narrow valleys, make up a good portion of the park, which encompasses more than 12 miles (20 km), and includes upwards of 25 calanques to explore.
You and your family will head out on a private boat, finding yourselves surrounded by the stunning limestone cliffs of the park in just a few minutes. Experience the incredible kaleidoscope of blue/green waters as you travel through the park, stopping in at various Calanques along the way, as well as taking some swim breaks for the kids and perhaps a picnic at one of the many hidden coves. Later, you'll have time to explore some of Cassis before returning to Aix-en-Provence for the evening.
Day 9: Drive to Nice, Sillans-la-Cascade & Villecroze, Château de Berne
Make the drive to Nice today, which sits at the northern end of the French Riviera, near the Italian border. Known for its artistic spirit, grand plazas, and crescent-shaped beaches, Nice is one of the riviera's most popular cities. The narrow cobblestone streets of its colorful old town, Vieille Ville, are lined with pastel-colored buildings and shops selling everything from soap to wine. Nice is also a very family-friendly city, with an abundance of parks and playgrounds, such as the Promenade du Paillon, where kids will love the giant whale, octopus swings, and mini trampolines.
Take your time driving up the Mediterranean coast, taking in the stunning landscapes, and making a few stops along the way. Visit the village of Sillans-la-Cascade, famous for its 140 ft (42 m) waterfall, which gives this otherwise quiet village a distinct energy. Then, continue to Villecroze, a town perched at the bottom of the Provençal Alps and surrounded by nature. The town is home to the Grottes Troglodytes ("Troglodyte Caves"), which are millions of years old and once belonged to Benedictine monks. There is a large waterfall by the caves, and the area is lush with flowers—perfect for family photo ops.
Later this afternoon, head to Château de Berne, home to one of the French Riviera's most beautiful vineyards, with the estate producing some of the region's most acclaimed wines. Enjoy a wine tasting, take in the views, and discover the history and architecture of this incredible property. And while the kids won't be interested in wines, there's plenty of history for the older kids to explore, as well as hiking trails, bike rentals, and lots of room for the little ones to play. End your day in the city of Cannes or back in Nice at the accommodation of your choice.
Day 10: Ferry to Île Sainte-Marguerite
Depart from Cannes today to Île Sainte-Marguerite, part of the Lérins Islands and located just a quick, 20-minute ferry ride from the mainland. This is a place where the whole family can experience nature, culture, and pure relaxation. At less than 2 miles (3 km) in length, the island is small but offers a wide range of activities and sights worth seeing. Start with a walk along the marked trails for a botanical and historical island tour, which takes you through a magical forest of eucalyptus and umbrella pines.
Day 11: Free Day in Nice
Enjoy some free time today in Nice. If you want to slow things down, consider a day at the beach, where the kids can swim and play on the city's beautiful sandy shores. There are both public and private beaches dotted along the coastline here, the majority of which are easily accessible. While the public beaches are free, the private beaches charge a rental fee for lounge chairs and umbrellas. The beach areas also have plenty of restaurants and cafés, as well as shops for souvenirs.
Families can also visit Parc Phoenix, a 17-acre (7 ha) zoo and botanical garden located right in the heart of the city. The park, built in 1990, is home to more than 70 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and more than 1,000 varietals of plants and trees. Enjoy the tree-lined paths, fountains, and picnic areas, and see lemurs, wallabies, flamingoes, and other wildlife. The park also has an insectarium for budding entomologists and a farm area with miniature horses and pigs.
Later, head to the Promenade des Anglais, or "La Prom." This lively 4.3-mile (7 km) stretch of shops and restaurants is a popular place to congregate, especially for local families in the evening. The wide walkways and bike paths provide uninterrupted views of the sea, and you can even rent roller skates or scooters for the kids.
Day 12: Drive to Marseille, Explore Marseille
Today, take the road to one of the oldest cities in France: Marseille, or "Massalia," to its friends. This colorful city on the Mediterranean coast has more than 2,600 years of history and is an extraordinary mix of old and new. You'll no longer need your rental car, so drop it off after you arrive and take a taxi to your hotel. After you get settled, it's time to see the city!
You can take a boat ride to the Frioul Islands, located just 2.5 miles (4 km) off the coast and comprised of three islands: Pomegues, Ratonneau, and Tiboulen. Relax with a picnic lunch and let the kids play in the warm Mediterranean waters, or visit the Château d'If, a fortress that was the inspiration for the famous novel of Alexandre Dumas, "The Count of Monte Cristo."
If you prefer to stay in the city, take a walk into the hilly Notre-Dame du Mont and Cours Julien neighborhoods, pleasant for strolling with their small alleys full of street art and artisan boutiques. You can also visit the Noailles neighborhood, where you'll feel like you've landed in the souks (markets) of Africa and Asia. This is one of the oldest streets in Marseille and one of the most vibrant, with markets that swarm with busy shoppers. Older kids or teens might also enjoy a visit to Notre-Dame de la Garde, a historic church with beautiful stained glass, soaring ceilings, and intricate artwork.
Day 13: Cruise & Swim in the Calanques
Head out on a day tour that takes you across the Bay of Marseille for swimming and sightseeing. You'll travel via an ecological hybrid/electric boat, departing from Marseille's Vieux-Port, and your expert guide will share information on France's oldest city and its main monuments. You'll pass through the gates of the Calanques, La Baie des Singes ("The Monkeys Bay"). This amazing passage between Île Maïre and the Croisette Cap represents entry into Calanques National Park.
The cruise includes coffee and juices as a welcome aboard, then you'll cross the harbor for some swimming. Enjoy lunch in the afternoon, along with aperitifs, then visit the archipelago of Riou, the creeks of Sormiou, Morgiou, and Sugiton. And the kids will be happy to know there will be time for a second swim before the boat returns to the port.
Day 14: Depart Marseille
Sadly, it's time to say au revoir to beautiful France. Your driver will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Marseille airport for your journey home. Safe travels!
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