At first glance the Côte d’Azur (or French Riviera) might not seem like an obvious choice for a holiday destination for families with toddlers with its reputation for glitz and glamour, but look again, it really is. I’m going to show you just how toddler-friendly this place is. We’ve lived here since our youngest was a toddler; I speak from personal experience. Here are 28 things to do, activities and days out with toddlers on the Côte d’Azur, France.
The Côte d’Azur is blessed with a gorgeous climate, with 300 days of sunshine a year. It’s an all-year destination with reasons to visit in all seasons. At Lou Messugo we are close to family-friendly ski resorts where in winter you can go for a few hours to get a feel for the snow, either on skis or sledging. No need to book an expensive ski holiday only to find your kids hate it. (But if they love it you can always go again! Our kids loved it from toddlerhood onwards).
The weather in winter on the Côte d’Azur is mild enough to walk and play on the many beaches, parks, hills, forests etc. Late winter/early spring is also Carnival time which kids love. Nice Carnival – and plenty of other smaller festivals – is colourful, child-oriented, day time fun, nearly always in good weather!
Despite the coast being very urban, we are only minutes from wild, beautiful and very different countryside; mountainous landscape forested by pines, green oaks, cork oaks, olive trees and mimosa and a moon-like barren plateau dotted with unusual rock formations . Many rivers cascade down from the mountains and there are plenty of hiking trails, often suitable for all-terrain buggies and mostly good for kids to walk along.
We find that toddlers love running through the forests, playing hide and seek, making dens, creating adventures, splashing in the rivers and enjoying the great outdoors.
As I said before the climate is perfect for this at pretty much all times of year. (In the photo below we came across a tiny bit of snow in October high in the mountains, just enough to make a snowman, but not cold at all).
The majority of nearby towns have pedestrianised centres and wide seafront pavements. These are ideal for allowing toddlers some freedom to explore, without fear of traffic. On the seafronts you can hire family pedal carts for an hour or two.
All the lovely nearby hilltop villages are free from cars and many are free from crowds even at the busiest times of year. Little kids love exploring these medieval castle-like villages full of secret passages and nooks and crannies.
All the towns you’d want to visit in the area have playparks varying from good to superb, particularly Nice. The Promenade du Paillon has waterjets, mist sprays and one of the most attractive (and fun) play areas I’ve ever seen.
We can advise where to find them, and how to incorporate them into your itinerary, making a sightseeing visit attractive and fun for all the family. Many have lovely old-fashioned merry-go-rounds or permanent little funfairs for young kids. The bigger places also have mini train tours which toddlers usually enjoy.
There are a number of excellent adventure playgrounds, low-tech theme parks, water parks, aquariums and soft play centres nearby all of which are suitable for toddlers. For more detailed information click through on each highlighted word.
At Lou Messugo we have a pool (fully fenced for the security of your kids, seen below) which is open roughly from late April till September (depending on the weather) and we provide inflatables, armbands, rubber rings, baby flotation aids etc. There is also an excellent family friendly indoor pool nearby open all year. Most French towns have a good municipal pool with a baby/toddler area. We also have a trampoline, large enclosed garden and no-through-traffic quiet lane suitable for learning to ride a bike.
And last but very much not least, there are literally hundreds of different beaches on the Côte d’Azur, from pebbly coves, to long sandy stretches. The nearest beach to us at Lou Messugo is only 15 minutes’ drive and getting to some beaches involves a short ferry ride which is fun in itself.
They are great in all seasons with the swimming period roughly April to late October. This being the Mediterranean there are never big waves (except during a rare storm) and most of the time the sea is calm and not too cold perfect for toddler paddling and water confidence.
Have I convinced you to holiday on the Côte d’Azur (ideally at Lou Messugo) with your toddler? Here are a few extra bonus photos to tempt you (and because I’m having such a good time going through old photos that I want to share them with you!)
You may enjoy this related post: Sightseeing with children
Don’t forget at Lou Messugo we can provide pretty much all the bulky paraphernalia you need when travelling with little ones like a cot, high chair, bucket and spades, plastic plates and even tricycles, sit-on carts and pushing trolleys/walkers (like the one below, which came everywhere with us for a while making going for walks easy!)
This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s more generalised reasons why travelling with toddlers is a good thing to do. I’ve also written Top 10 things to do on the Côte d’Azur with children, young teens, indoor and in the rain. Will you be travelling with toddlers soon? If you know the Riviera please feel free to add suggestions in the comments.
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You’re right, it’s not an area I would have thought of going with young kids but I’m converted! What a great mix of beaches, sights and attractions. I particularly like the look of Promenade du Paillon. I’d be running through the water jets too 🙂 #MondayEscapes
I love the Cote D’Azur -it is great for travelling with kids, great beaches lots of lovely strolls and of course the Carousels! 🙂 #fearlessfamtrav
Definitely a place I would visit with my tots
The skiing is one of the best kept secrets, and one of the best things about living here.
I’ve never been but it looks like a great place for toddlers. One to add to the list. I ad no clue about the skiing
Thanks for linking up to #fearlessfamtrav
Please come and stay at Lou Messugo Allane! I’ll show you a great time (without toddlers!!!)
Great post! I had no doubt there was lots to do at the Côte D’Azur with toddlers. I just didn’t know about the skiing part, how awesome! You definitely can enjoy it at all seasons!
I can’t wait to be back there again, it’s been too long! 😀
Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes 😀
It’s so easy to get here too with Nice airport’s direct flights to all over UK and Europe. Please come and see us!
Good to hear form another France-lover! Maybe you’ll come here one day, we’re always open!
I love France – and I would just adore taking the boys here! I’ve never been but I love diverse places. I taught in Strasbourg for a while and it was perfect, just like this.
Some happy kids out there :)) You definitely sold Cote d’Azure for kids travel to me – will have to add it to the bucket list 🙂 #MondayEscapes
Snow and sun, we have it all!!!
Good point Shobha! Yachts with helicopters are always a good thing to spot. I once saw a yacht with a yacht on it!!!
Thanks Cindy 🙂
The climate is definitely a great big fat plus!
Being able to convince someone without kids to holiday in a kid-friendly area is pretty good! You’ve got to come and stay soon Sara!
Ahh, we’re lucky in the South of France with that yellow thing…plenty of it here!!
aww looks fab what a great list making me miss that yellow thing in the sky that we sometime see!
You have me convinced! I have no kids at the moment, but I can see France (and the Cote d’Azur) as being children-friendly for those vacationing as a family. Now I’m jealous that you live in a place with 300 days of sunshine AND you have a pool! Next time I make it over to France I have to head down to your area 🙂
Looks a great list – and like you I don’t see why a toddler can’t go anywhere – but it seems the climate alone would be a big win. And the activities – love the cheeky grin shot! #mondayescapes
Looks fantastic and love all the outdoor activities! Great post and tips.
We’ve been to the south of France when our kids were little. There’s lots to do as you said and the weather is near-perfect. My son’s favourite bit was watching the boats in Monaco harbour. He couldn’t believe you could have yachts with helicopters on it. visiting from #mondayescapes
Looks like a wonderful place to be! So many fun things to do and see. I was slightly shocked at the snow initially until I read… that looks fun too! x
Please do find out more especially about what we can offer you at our very family friendly gite Anthea http://www.loumessugo28dec.dev.cc
The thing about the G&G post is that I’m sooo not G&G but you’re right Rosie, I should write about that side of things.
So glad to have your comments Corinna, I know your kids love this area and are enthusiastic participants in all these activities. Hope you can come back again soon.
I had such fun going through my photos Catherine, they sure do have a good life!
Sun, sand and snow on the same day is one of the really unique and special things about this part of the world.
You’d love the water jets Nadine, they are really good ones.
Absolutely oldie Richard, most of these things (perhaps not the merry go rounds and “duck fishing”) are perfectly suitable for all ages.
I think it’s as near to perfect as is possible Kara! I’m glad it’s been put on your list.
It is certainly a very healthy place to live, we spend so much time outdoors doing so many fun activities, all of which can be enjoyed when on holiday here.
Finding changing facilities can be challenging in France in general but it’s getting better than it was when my (now 16 y.o) son was a baby. Do come back again Oana, and stay at Lou Messugo. We make it so easy for families!
I’m glad I’ve changed your opinion, it really is a great place for all ages and all interests.
Ha ha Jen, I don’t have toddlers anymore either, but I loved going through old photos of my once-were-toddlers! It’s a great holiday location for families with 2 tween boys too!
Glad to enjoy our area Nichola 🙂
It is Emma (I’m not biased at all!)
The perfect late winter/early spring day: snow and sand! Thanks for sharing Becks, we certainly are lucky living here, I still don’t take it for granted after 9 years.
Great post Phoebe, have shared it on Twitter as @accessriviera! I think you’ve covered pretty much everything. We’re so lucky aren’t we – it’s funny, the other day friends went toboganning at Auron then lunch on the beach in the afternoon.
I am sold! It looks like the perfect family holiday. x
Wow, so many things to do and that sun/snow combo sounds brilliant. This isn’t anywhere I’ve ever been but I’m definitely interested to find out more now
We really enjoy this area too, it’s so family friendly and I love the climate!
Beaches, toddlers, sunshine oh yes. I just need the toddlers! We love this part of France
I would definitely have been wary visiting somewhere like this with my three children, however, you make it sound so appealing and there would be so much for us all to do!
We travelled to Cote d’Azur when Emma was a baby and struggled to find toilets with changing facilities. I would love to visit again with Emma now, I remember the Promenade du Paillon in Nice and I think she would love it in the summer!xx
Such beautiful photos and it looks like such a healthy place to be with all the beautiful places to get lungfuls of fresh air x
Sun and ski – it looks perfect to me. I would love to visit one day *adds to ever growing list*
And this oldie enjoys most of those things too!
The waterjets in the Promenade du Paillon are something we’d love to enjoy – I love this sort of thing – especially when the water ‘jumps’ about and surprises you!
You had me at 300 days sunshine a year!
Love being able to combine sun and snow, it looks beautiful.
Great to see all those photos of the boys when they were little. What an idyllic life they lead.
Having holidayed at Lou Messugo with toddlers I completely agree that they loved the excitement of exploring the mountain villages; splashing in fountains, hiding up little alleyways and finding the ice cream shop. They also enjoyed walking and playing in the mountains and of course the beaches were always winners!
What a fabulous list of things to do … and I am loving all the photos of your boys looking so young!! Now you need to write a Glitz and Glamour post 😉