The holidays are finally here. Off we head for the South of France! Tomorrow is the grand family departure for the Côte d’Azur, its mild climate and enchanting landscapes. The only problem here is, you fortunately (or unfortunately) decided to check the weather forecast on your phone and boom, the weather of the next few days promises to be catastrophic! I implore you not to cancel this long-awaited holiday. These family moments are too precious to be shoved away because of a mere capricious weather! I’ve put together a pretty selection of tested and approved destinations that will make you forget the dreariness and explore the Côte d’Azur from another angle.
The first positive point is that you have selected a beautiful hotel that will offer you numerous possibilities to relax and enjoy your family moments. The Little Guest Hotels Collection website, which has assembled the best addresses for family stays, notably offers two houses that will illuminate your stay, irrespective of the outdoor temperature.
After Cannes, a change of scenery with another beautiful avenue of the French Riviera as backdrop, the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice: Le Negresco *****. This hotel with breathtaking views over the Baie des Anges was inaugurated more than a century ago. This palace’s neoclassical architecture appeals to many children who see themselves, for the duration of their stay, as living in a palace. Its rooms and suites are inspired by the mythical periods of the French art’s history across five centuries, a good way to familiarize yourself with the French heritage.
Whether you opt for family rooms whose lovely surface area entices you to relax, or for connecting rooms that offer everyone their privileged space, the hotel offers the finest services to families.
Children’s menus carefully concocted from the best ingredients that are suitable for all age groups, breakfast buffets whose delicacies is suitable for the little ones, restaurants work non-stop to please families. When it comes to activities, the kids club and the baby club will not fail to seduce children, more so thanks to its complementary, and ultra-competent babysitting service. In the rooms, you will even be able to find cosmetics dedicated to children, and Mom will have the opportunity to get pampered through a hairdressing session or a massage. Ideal for comfort after a rainy day.
Are you ready? Have you well-settled in? Hence, off we go for some splendid walks!
Cover up well, put on your sneakers and off we go for one of the most beautiful walks on the Riviera, the Domaine du Rayol. Yes, I know you are probably thinking that visiting a Mediterranean garden in a dreary day seems like a crazy idea! Well, sorry to disappoint you, it isn’t! It’s time for a change of habits and for learning on how to amaze yourself in all circumstances. This landscaped garden located on La Corniche des Maures (Corniche of the Moors), facing the islands of Hyères indeed offers sublime views over the sea and becomes magical in rough weather. We have traveled through alongside the family in early November, and I must confess that the experience was so beautiful that I’ll never get tired of recommending a visit to this location, whatever the weather conditions. This contemporary garden is not a botanical garden like any other where nature is often constrained by learned geometric lines and sometimes disfigured by the explanatory signs that children find boring to follow! Here nature has regained its rights and retains its freedom of movement. During the walk, you will find the world’s landscapes, with the ecology as main theme, a theme whereby man is a full-fledged actor. To brighten up the visit, I recommend a brief stop at the Café des jardiniers, in the heart of the gardens, wherein you will be kindly welcomed to enjoy some treats or drink a warm comforting hot chocolate. Not to mention the beautiful Librairie des jardiniers (gardeners’ bookshop) which pleasantly concludes the visit with a vast selection of books for young and old.
On your way back to the hotel, here is a safe and dry visit location, in the center of Saint-Raphaël. The Musée municipal Louis De Funès (Louis De Funès Municipal Museum) will certainly get a unanimous vote from all members of the family. Exhilarating happy memories for Mom and Dad and pushing the little ones to getting carried away or to having some good laughs. Being brand new, and very freshly setup, the site honors one of the most popular figures of French cinema. You will be able to see numerous photos, objects from the shooting of some of the 150 films which the actor has been part of, as well as some exciting film extracts. Children will love the phones that are scattered all over the course, which enable them to get to hear the voice of the actor narrating them interesting little stories. Games whose inventions were inspired from the actor’s films are also made available to the young audiences. We visited this site while it was seriously raining over the region and this gave a smile to everyone, the display that ensues is very Joyeuse!
A little further North, you will find the beautiful region of Tourrettes-sur-Loup renowned for its gorges, the la Vallée du Loup but also for the cultivation of violets, hosts one of our little one’s most appreciated visiting site, the Confiserie Florian. This place of haute delicacies opens its workshops all year round, in order to reveal its manufacturing secrets. Well established in its terroir, the confectionery works with local products and values the heritage of Provence by creating delicious natural sweets. Flower works remain one of the house’s specialties. From February to August, violet, rose, jasmine or verbena are being made as tasty crystallized flowers or candied flowers. Not omitting chocolates, caramels and sweets with flavors from the south. At the end of the visit, the tasting is essential for everyone’s happiness.
Let us tarry in this floral universe, which is so dear to Provence and let’s checkout a unique know-how. After the savory and gourmet fragrance of sweets, comes the delicate perfume fragrances! Fields as far as the eye can see, the cultivation of flowers is indeed a thousand-year-old tradition around the city of Grasse, which has become the cradle of perfumery after having abandoned the tannery during the Middle Ages.
Built in the 19th century, the historic Maison Fragonard factory is situated in the heart of the old town. A fine selection of perfumes and soaps are being produced in the workshops that can be visited every day of the year. We discover, step by step, some manufacturing secrets, the trade of nose and the underside of the perfume industry.
Workshops are designed such that the children can see themselves as apprentice perfumers by personalizing their own cologne. A beautiful sensory and playful experience.
Having been well buzzed up from savouring sweets and intoxicated by the rich history of perfumes, you are set to go out and explore one of the largest French cultural institutions, the Maeght Foundation. This atypical location being nestled in the middle of countryside, at a few meters from the beautiful village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, was inaugurated in the 1960s by André Malraux. In addition to the superb collections which it houses, it offers the opportunity of allowing the young people to discover the contemporary art through a fun and uninhibited path, which is accessible to all. The avant-garde architecture will delight the little ones, and the gardens wherein you can find the labyrinth of Mirò while the Calder’s mobiles are a real pleasure, even in terrible weather conditions!
Staying in a place without taking out time to wander around in its market is a big mistake! Children always appreciate the market’s animation and colours. And this is also a good way of getting them acquainted to local products and healthy diets. The Forville Market in Cannes is historic, and it is the city’s nerve centre. It is visited by numerous market gardeners and fishermen in a joyous ambiance of the South. The flower stands are beautiful and here, you will find all the treasures of the Côte d’Azur’s gastronomy. On top of that, it is of course covered!
This place will not allow you to tarry in it for very long because it only has one room, but it is worth the detour. In the 1960s, Picasso indeed chose this Romanesque chapel located in Vallauris, as the site where he set up his temple of peace. Here, there are only two of the artist’s works, considered as being grandiose; La Guerre, and La Paix, both done in 1952. These monumental compositions inspired by rock art follow the shapes of the chapel’s vault and are bound to fascinate the little ones who are often sensitive to Picasso’s graphic work.
At just a few minutes from Vallauris, the verrerie de Biot needs no further publicity. It allows children to discover unique crafts through a pleasant eco-museum that highlights the glass tradition. Although the glass works remains a millennia-old know-how in Provence, it is in 1956 that the Biot glass factory became a legend amongst glassmakers, with its creation of the bubbled glass. But what is bubbled glass? Actually, it was thanks to an accident that resulted to the presence of air bubbles in the glass during the blowing of the glass, that this technique was born, which makes it possible to control the bubbles and to imprison them between two layers of glass. It is interesting for children to note that it is by making mistakes that we learn and that an error can give birth to a pretty technique that is today appreciated worldwide. I invite you to visit this workshop that is open every day.
Also being nearby, and in the hinterland of Nice, the Moulin de la Brague, which has been run by the same family for seven generations now, offers tours that retrace the history of the olive tree and highlight the olive grower’s profession. Very attached to its exceptional terroir, the Michel family will make you adopt olive oil into all types of sauces. The old centuries-old mill, dating as far back as the 15th century, and was powered by hydraulic power, is a beautiful example of the trades of yesteryear. And the end of this site’s visit rhymes with the savouring of olives, oil and products made by the mill.
If you stretch to as far as Monaco, then, I strongly recommend that you visit to the Oceanographic Museum. This is indeed the ideal place to enjoy your family moments and well away from the pleasures of the sea! Seabed lovers will love this place, which is both aesthetic and educational, wherein you can check out a rich collection of animal species. The museum has one of the oldest aquariums in the world, whose pools are recreated to look like the most complex marine ecosystems. The wonders of the Mediterranean meet up with the most beautiful species of the tropics for the exquisite happiness of children who will have the opportunity to observe unknown and colourful animals.
The highlight here is the shark lagoon, a giant six-meters-deep aquarium. And for some time, people have been able to enthral themselves in the new open space that maps out the odyssey of sea turtles since the time of the dinosaurs.
Catherine, married, Mom of Justine, from Paris