Posted on 08 June 2012 by Dan Johnson
If you tell people you’re taking the kids to France for a couple of weeks, most will assume you’re talking about Disneyland Paris. However, there is a lot our Gallic neighbours have to offer other than the American theme park. Even better, most are a fraction of the price, giving you and your children a memorable holiday with a touch of French authenticity.
Le Musee du Bonbon (Haribo’s Sweet Museum)
If you’re planning to visit the South of France, then the small town of Uzès in Provence is a perfect stop for children. Why? Because children love sweets. Not only will they get a taste of medieval France, with its dated town centre and typically French cafés, they will also love a visit to the town’s main attraction, Haribo’s Sweet Museum. For just 7 euros per adult and 4 euros per child (under 5s go free) you can learn all there is to know about liquorice, fruit gums and more. Even better, kids will get a chip when they first come in which allows them to start up a packaging machine and load golden gummy bears into small packets.
However, it’s not all about the sweets. It mostly is, but that’s not all there is. As I said, the small town itself has a lot to see and do and is a great playground for kids’ imaginations. Once you’ve passed the initial sugar rush and cleaned the sticky messes off your children’s fingers, clothes or tour guides, travel just 10 miles south to the Pont du Gard, one of France’s most popular sites outside of Paris.
Pont du Gard
Constructed by the Romans in 1AD, (the Romans were the smart old people) the Pont du Gard is an aqueduct crossing the Gard River. An icon of Roman engineering, this tourist attraction never fails to invoke awe and admiration. What’s more, admission to view the aqueduct comes at the low cost of moving your head and looking at the big water carrying thing. Swimming in the river is popular during the warmer months and, although swimming upstream of the Pont is generally considered more favourable for adults, children will enjoy the shallow sandy banks of the river downstream.
Le Train à Vapeur des Cévennes
Kids like trains. Something about the sound it makes is fascinating to them, much like the word “hippopotamus” is extremely fun to say for adults. Because of this fascination, this steam engine trip is perfect for families. Running from April to October, it’s not an overly expensive way to spend a few hours, with adult tickets costing 12 euros return and children 7 euros return. A little over 8 miles long, the train ride takes you through amazing panoramas, viaducts and tunnels – everything that children love. Even better, get there early to ensure you sit in one of the partially open carriages. Not only are the views better but kids love to feel the steam from the engine blowing through their hair. Pack your own picnic as the train stops in a great little picnic area, allowing you to save on the expense of eating out.
Seaquarium, Le Grau du Roi
Le Grau du Roi is in Southern France to the east of Montpellier and is another great place for families to spend the day mixing free activities with relatively cheap activities. This seaside resort has clean waters and nice, warm sand. It’s also relatively quiet, ideal if you don’t want to be worried about losing the kids in crowds.
Further inland is the Seaquarium, a fantastic aquarium with dolphins, sharks, seals and more marine animals. Open every day of the year except Christmas Day, you could easily spend several hours here and the kids still wouldn’t be ready to leave. While you resist the urge to bump some louder families into the dolphin tank, your kids will be off having fun and gazing in awe at the many sea creatures the Seaquarium has to offer. The underwater seal tank in itself is just an absorbing experience for kids and adults alike.
Entry is € 12.50 for adults and € 9.50 for children, with under 5s going free. However, families with 2 adults and 2 children can enter for € 37.50 while larger families get a 10% discount off the ticket price.
This article was written by Thomas Foelster who works for the money saving and voucher code site Savoo.co.uk