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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