The Côte d’Azur is a wonderful place to visit with older kids and teenagers thanks to the variety of activities on offer. This might come as a surprise as the area is perhaps more well-known for its glamorous events and chic resorts rather than family vacations, but this list should help redress the balance. Here are my top 10 top things to do with older kids on the Côte d’Azur, in no particular order, based on my own kids’ favourite activities.
Canyoning in the Loup river gorge. This activity is for adrenaline seekers and not for anyone with a fear of heights. You spend about 4 hours in a mountain river climbing along narrow passages, sliding down and jumping into rock pools from up to 11 metres high! It takes stamina and strength but is such a thrill it’s well worth the effort. It can take a lot longer than advertised in the brochure depending on the size and ability of the group.
2. Canyon Forest
Canyon Forest zip-line adventure course in the trees (in the style of “Go Ape” in the UK). There are 4 different courses for different levels of difficulty consisting of rope ladders, zip wires, rope bridges, via ferrata, wooden tunnels, trapezes and swings. This activity is billed as being possible from 8 years old (or 135 m tall) but it’s pretty tough that young. On the other hand it goes up to adult level and teenagers will certainly find their thrills here. It’s beautifully located in the Loup river gorge and access is by a 2 km bike ride (or on foot). The price of admission includes the bike rental.
3. Hire a pedalo
Hire a pedalo & jump off massive inflatables at St Cassien lake, an enormous man-made reservoir near Montauroux. The huge blow-up icebergs and bouncy platforms are only out in the summer but the lake is a lovely place to walk and picnic at any time of year.
4. Wolf reserve Alpha Parc
*** UPDATE OCTOBER 2020 *** Sadly the park is closed until further notice due to devastating storm damage
See wolves in their natural habitat at Alpha Parc. Wolves used to exist in the wild in the southern Alps but were hunted to extinction in the 1930s. Since the 1990s they have been making a comeback however and this park sets out to showcase 3 different viewpoints of how the wolf can or cannot co-exist with sheep farming. Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Mercantour National Park, you get to view wolves in their natural habitat and learn all about the pros and cons of their return through an excellent audio-visual presentation. With trout fishing and many hiking trails nearby in the pristine forest there’s plenty to do for a whole day out, but be prepared as at 1500 m altitude even in summer it can be cool and the weather can change rapidly. For a full write up about Alpha Parc check here.
5. Make your own signature scent
Make your own perfume at Galimard Parfumerie. You can visit several perfumeries in Grasse, the world capital of perfume making, but only Galimard and Fragonard offer workshops where you can make your own. The session takes a couple of hours and can be arranged in many different languages.
6. Rollerblade on the seafront
7. Sail a catamaran
Hire a catamaran, optimist, windsurfer or sea kayak at one of many yacht clubs on the coast. I recommend the Yacht Club at Villeneuve-Loubet. It is open all year round but check for hours which are restricted in winter. Available by the hour or half day. Courses (individual or group) are also available during school holidays (in French). During the summer there is a café on the beach. Out of season you need to take your own snacks.
Geocaching is an adventure “treasure hunt” using GPS. It can take place in forests, mountains and even many towns. This is a great way to motivate and inspire teenagers to go for a walk or sightsee! The aim is to find a hidden “cache” having looked up the rough location of one where you want to explore online. You need a GPS device or smartphone, everything that you’d take on a hike (water, food, sturdy footware, first aid kit) and a pen to sign the log book when you find the treasure. You may also need a torch depending on the difficulty of the search.
9. Le Village des Fous
Le Village des Fous is a unique theme park consisting of a “crazy village” and a labyrinth with challenges and obstacles that you have to get through in order to access the village (though you can bypass it if you wish). This is a fun park with original rides such as pedal karts, a flying bathtub, water catapults, and plenty more. You can take a picnic or eat at the café. The maze gets very hot in high season but there are plenty of drinking fountains and areas where you can cool off in water spray making it perfectly bearable even on the hottest day. There are water play areas in the crazy village so bring swimming gear (and plenty of sunscreen).
Don’t all kids (big and small) love a water park? At Aquasplash there’s a good choice of waterslides, some not for the faint-hearted, a big wave pool, aqua aerobics and a pirate play-zone for the littlies. It can get very crowded in high season so my advice is to get there as it opens. You’re not supposed to take picnics but you can get away with it if you’re discreet (I always do).
Don’t forget if you’re looking for ideas for things to do with younger kids on the Côte d’Azur or fun on rainy days, activities for toddlers or indoor activities for all ages I’ve also made some Top 10 lists. Have you been to any of these places? Can you add any other ideas?
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