The Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera as it can be called in English, is famed for its fabulous climate, but just like anywhere it can rain. This is a reasonably rare occurrence (in high season) and you’d be very unlucky if it rained for the whole period of your holiday, but fear not, there is a surprising amount to do here in wet weather. I’ve put together a list of 10 ideas for family fun on rainy days on the Côte d’Azur.
Rainy Days on the Côte d’Azur
1. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
Musée Océanographique de Monaco. This world-class oceanography museum sits spectacularly placed on the cliff face looking out to sea on the rock of Monaco. This in itself is worth the journey but perhaps not for the younger members of the family. For them there’s an excellent aquarium – not big but perfectly sized for young children – with a touch pool and times to observe the fish being fed. The museum is stuffed full of marine world curiosities. Again, it’s not so big that kids lose interest, but just full enough of oddities to capture their imagination. You’ll find a whale skeleton and an enormous polar bear alongside 200 year old diving gear and all sorts of pickled sea monsters! The roof terrace has a restaurant and excellent play area next to a turtle enclosure all with 360° panoramic views of Monaco and the Mediterranean. Open every day of the year except during the 3 days of the Grand Prix (in May) and Christmas Day.
2. Florian sweet factory and shop, Pont du Loup
Confiserie Florian – our very own Willy Wonka’s candy factory right on our doorstep! This traditional factory makes delicious sweets, chocolates, jams and candied fruits out of local flowers and fruit. Its location in the Loup river gorge under a ruined bridge is worth the visit alone and can’t fail to impress even in bad weather. In fact when it’s raining the river crashes through the gorge in a spectacular fashion – much more interesting than the little trickle in summer. What child can resist a chocolate/sweet factory? And what’s more, it’s free (until you start buying all the delectable produce!) It offers free factory tours with tastings throughout the day every day of the year in 5 different languages.
3. International Perfume Museum, Grasse
Musée International de la Parfumerie. Grasse is the world centre of perfume-making so what better place to find out all about the history of perfume than in the thick of it? This excellent museum, which is not too big to tire/bore the kids, has workshops for children and adults alike during school holidays and regularly changing exhibitions. It has interactive displays especially designed for children too. Open every day during the summer but closed on Tuesdays in winter. Check the website for opening hours.
4. Parc Phoenix, Nice
Parc Phoenix – 7 hectares of exotic gardens with 2500 plant species and one of the biggest glass-houses in Europe located on the western edge of Nice. It might seem a strange idea to recommend visiting a park on rainy days on the Côte d’Azur, but you’ll find the glass-house is a surprisingly warm and dry place that fascinates kids. It is this pyramid-shaped glass-house with 6 different climatic zones that makes a great escape from cold and damp weather. It offers the visitor a rich, colourful, steamy, tropical experience even in the rain. The enormous exotic plants look like they’re out of a cartoon they’re so bright and wacky and iguanas wander freely. If the rain holds off there are several excellent outdoor play areas. The whole place is beautifully landscaped and designed for a fun and fascinating day out. Picnics are allowed and there is a small café too.
5. Soft play, Fun City, Cannes
Fun City Cannes – the biggest indoor softplay area on the Côte d’Azur with ball parks, trampolines, baby play area, go-karts, zip wire and a café for stressed-out parents! Perfect for rainy days on the Côte d’Azur with your little kidoos. It has restricted opening hours during school terms so check the website for times.
6. Caves, St Cézaire
St Cézaire Caves. Interesting, reasonably-priced underground caves near the lovely village of St Cézaire. The temperature is a constant 15°c all year round no matter what the weather outside is doing, making it a perfect outing for rainy days on the Côte d’Azur (or very hot ones). You have to take a guided tour but even if it’s not available in your language the caves speak for themselves and are worth visiting. The tour isn’t long and is perfectly suitable for kids. It is not suitable, however, for pushchairs as it involves steep steps. Only open on Saturdays from Nov-Feb but every day of the week during the rest of the year.
7. Laser Quest, Cannes
Laser Quest – an indoor action game played with lasers similar to Paintball but simpler and without the possibility of getting hurt, suitable from 8 years and up. Absolutely non-violent but not appropriate for anyone afraid of the dark. Honestly, not my kind of thing at all, but my kids have been many times and love it! Open every day, check the website for times, located in Antibes and Cannes.
8. Glass blowing, Biot
Glass blowing in Biot. The lovely village of Biot is famous for its unusual bubble glass which can be found for sale in many boutiques throughout the old centre. But on rainy days on the Côte d’Azur why not visit the glass blowing studios and Eco-museum at the Verrerie de Biot. Established 60 years ago and run by the same family since 1973 this workshop/studio/museum is fascinating to visit. You can watch the artists at work, learn all about glass blowing and even have a go yourself. Open every day. If the weather permits, a stroll around the medieval hill village just up from the verrerie is well worth it.
9. Bowling, Cannes la Bocca/Antibes
Bowling. If you haven’t been bowling with your children then you should! It’s great fun from about 6/7 years up. From the moment they put on the dodgy bowling shoes they’re hooked. There are bowling alleys in Antibes, Cannes la Bocca and Nice to entertain the whole family on rainy days on the Côte d’Azur. They are all open 7 days a week till late in the evening.
10. Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Nice
MAMAC – the Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art in Nice. Perhaps not the most obvious place to visit with a family but this free (for under 18s) museum is a great hit with kids, especially on rainy days on the Côte d’Azur. The building, a contemporary hive of concrete towers, rooftop walkways, arches, terraces, roof gardens and glass bridges, fascinates and entertains children and this is even without visiting the exhibitions. Inside the permanent collections of local artists such as Niki de St Phalle and Ben are very child-friendly as they are colourful, cartoon-like and accessible. There are plenty of works of art that children “get”.
Don’t forget to check these other posts for more ideas of things to do on the Côte d’Azur with kids and things to do with teens on the French Riviera. I’ve also written about another 10 activities indoors for all ages and activities for toddlers. Do you have any other suggestions?
Photo credit for photo of wellies and umbrella Image from Pixabay
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I have always wanted to try glassblowing, definitely an activity for a cooler day. Thank you for linking up to #CulturedKids
Ah, I see you are tempting me once again with this tantalising post – thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids! MAMAC would keep my children entertained, I know. They love any sort of modern art – the ruder, the better!
WOW this is somewhere I would love to visit with the family
We were supposed to holiday there last year but cancelled due to unforseen circumstances. Really would like to visit this year… thanks for these tips x
Sounds like so many lovely things to do, I quite fancy a visit now especially the Confiserie Florian x
There’s a lot more indoor activities than I was expecting for the rare rainy days x x
What a fantastic post! So much to do. I particularly like the sound of the caves, and the glass-blowing. Haven’t done Laser Quest since I was a teenager, but I reckon my two would love it.
with so much to do I wouldn’t be able to choose, sweet factory or soft play? or maybe bowling!
What a fantastic round up of ideas. We visited the Musée Océanographique de Monaco in the summer and loved it.
See it does rain sometimes! These look like great things to do when and if it does rain. We love aquariums. They are so calming!
This is a great post, we always get stuck on holiday when the weather is bad as all the attractions seem to be outside but I know there are plenty of things on here my littlies would love
Honestly, this almost makes me want it to rain if we went there! I have heard such great things about the oceanography museum, but all the others sounds fab too!
So glad you had a great day out Rin, thanks for commenting.
Having just returned from Lou Messugo I can vouch that the aquarium in Monaco is excellent and the roof top cafe (with play area) has sublime views
Thanks for adding your suggestion, I hadn’t heard of this place and it looks great; very different. All ideas are welcome, the more the merrier! 🙂
Great suggestions ! There’s also fairly new place that’s been opened at the X-training gym site called hightech 2 move. Luke has been to two birthday parties there and he and all the kids LOVE it. check it out here http://www.villeneuve.hitech-2move.com/