Provence with Kids
When you’re traveling to the south of France with young kids, it’s important to find a casual destination and avoid some of the higher-end locales that don’t feel so kid-friendly. I recommend staying outside of mainstream towns and choosing more off-the-beaten-path destinations; they are more relaxed and in turn, authentically Provençal. Var, just east of Aix-en-Provence, is one of my favorite regions. Some towns to consider are Cotignac, Entrecasteaux, Correns, and Sillans-la-Cascade. If you want to learn more about each region, reach out to me and let’s chat to find what's best suited for you and your family’s travel style.
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Where to stay
Abbaye de la Celle
Charming Provencal inn with a Michelin-starred restaurant
A welcoming 18th-century manor home turned hotel in Aix
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Villa La Coste
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Things to do
Visit the beaches
Cassis is a gorgeous Mediterranean beach town with a laid back vibe and a rocky shoreline (bring your water shoes!). From the harbor, catch a boat ride into the calanques canyon-like natural structures. Before you leave Cassis, be sure to grab a cream-filled Tarte Tropezienne pastry.
Visiting Lac de Sainte-Croix is an excellent trip in the region. You can rent a paddleboat to explore the lake, check out the Gorge du Verdon canyon and relax on the lake beach. The water is shallow and warm, perfect for kids and there’s a sanctioned swimming area.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab lunch at one of the lake-front restaurants and opt for a table outside to enjoy the view.
Plan a picnic by picking up a rotisserie chicken from a roadside vendor on the way to Plage de Cabasson. The beach here sparkles; the sand and the water glitter and glisten. It's shallow enough to be safe for kids, the water is warm and the waves are the right size to safely play.
Take a walk on the path to Plage de Brégançon, a beautiful rocky beach. Look for the goats along the way, who live a very happy life along the Mediterranean coast.
A must-do Provençal experience is to have a family photo shoot in the lavender fields. Hire a photographer who will know the best lavender field to take you to for the shoot. For less touristy lavender fields, find one between Riez and Puimoisson (such as this one). Remember to respect the lavender and don't walk on the bushes or pick the flowers.
Drive to the hilltop village of Bormes-les-Mimosa for incredible views of the Mediterranean. The charming town has many darling souvenir shops where you can buy Provençal woven straw bags and baskets.
Places to eat & drink
Pickup fresh bread and local jam at any boulangerie. The sacrostain (a flaky, twisted pastry) at the boulangerie in Correns is filled with chocolate and will blow your mind.
Lunch & dinner
The markets in the south of France are unbelievable. Pick up an array of items to make a DIY spread. Cotignac is the place (on Tuesday mornings) to get a supply of tapenade, saucisson sec, peaches, cherries, melon, tomato, Banon chevre and bread. If you have a grill in your accommodation, pick up some chipolata sausages too.
Nestuby cave & bar à Cotignac: Go midday for a charcuterie board and French wine.
Hostellerie de L'Abbaye de La Celle: This Michelin starred Alain Ducasse restaurant is kid-friendly. Set in a beautiful garden with statues, swings, pétanque and potager, you can let the little ones run free between courses.
Auberge de Correns: A friendly, casual and tasty restaurant in a darling inn.
Restaurant du Cours: You can’t go wrong with any restaurant with outdoor seating along the main stretch in Cotignac, but if you’re looking for a classic Provençal experience, go to Restaurant du Cours.
Pizza Yo: The best pizza truck in town for a particularly delish pie.
Hotel Belle-Vue: My favorite place to go for a scoop of gelato.
A note from Claudia
The local tourism offices are super friendly and helpful. Ask them for a local event calendar and check out a few festivals while you're in town. Some of the festivals have carnival rides, others celebrate a local food with communal dinner tables, music and dancing, others show outdoor movies. It's a great opportunity to live like a local and enjoy some fun with your family.
To see wildlife take a day trip to the Camargue, a location where you’ll find wild flamingos and horses. There are organized tours of the area or you can just drive around and see what animals you can spot.
Île de Porquerolles is a fun half day trip. You take a ferry to get there, and it’s a bit rustic, but still very charming. There are great hiking trails that are suitable for kids and not too strenuous.
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