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Time: GMT+1

Language: French
Currency: Euro (€)
Dialling code: +33
Tourist information: france.guide.com

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Family Holidays in France

France is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations. Even the French choose overwhelmingly to stay put en vacance and, for that reason, you’ll find most places have an intrinsic child-friendliness. The biggest problem you’ll face is deciding where to go and what to do. A big city like Paris, for example, might be the last thing on your mind, but even in a world without Disney, you’ll still find a city brimming with child-friendly attractions, from scaling the Eiffel Tower to getting down to some serious fun in the interactive science museum at Parc de la Villette. The real boon for families, though, is the ease with which you can combine two or three regions. Sandwiched by a few days on the Normandy coast and an interlude in the Loire, that Paris city break begins to look even more enticing. Likewise, you could make a tasty combo of walking and rafting in the Pyrenees with beach fun on either the Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts. You may decide that some regions deserve your undivided attention: Provence and Brittany spring to mind. Both have idyllic coastlines, loads of activities, medieval castles and Roman ruins. Not forgetting the fine cuisine and cheap wine. France is très bon for parents too.

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CYCLING IN THE LOIRE VALLEY

Ditch the car by taking the train to the Loire Valley for a family-friendly cycling adventure through gently undulating countryside dotted with fairytale chateaux. You can plan your own two-wheel odyssey by visiting the website of La Loire à Vélo which has details of bike-rental agencies, suggested routes and hotels (many of which provide a baggage-forwarding service for cyclists). Alternatively, Exodus offers an eight-day family trip from around £650 per adult and £580 per child (minimum age three, rail travel extra). Most of the cycling is on quiet, flat roads with distances of around 25km a day. Children will not only feel a great sense of achievement as they notch up the miles, but they’ll also absorb plenty in the way of French history as they pedal between the fairy-tale chateaux at Amboise, Chenonceaux, Chambord and Chaumont.

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ACTIVITY HOLIDAY IN CHAMONIX

If you can’t do it in Chamonix, it probably doesn’t exist. From river rafting and rock climbing to parapenting and summer tobogganing, Chamonix has got to be your top choice for non-stop activities – both indoor and out. Just don’t expect a cutesy alpine village. This bustling Savoy town has 10,000 hotel and guesthouse beds, dozens of restaurants, a casino and sports centre. But what Chamonix lacks in intimacy it more than compensates for with breathtaking views of Mt Blanc, 330km of marked footpaths and an extensive network of cable cars and mountain railways.

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PARIS FOR DISNEY (AND CULTURE) LOVERS

From Disney to Da Vinci, Paris bridges a cultural chasm that will leave you and your kids reeling. Imagine one day staring at the world’s most famous painting and the next coming face to face with a six-foot-tall mouse dressed in a dinner jacket. In another life (sans famille), you may remember Paris as a romantic place where you wafted between cafés and lingered in the Louvre. With kids in tow, a riveting romp up the Eiffel Tower will top your must-do list, while other highlights include treasure hunts in the Louvre and interactive science challenges at the Cité des Enfants.

Five of the best family-friendly places to stay in France

DISNEYLAND HOTEL, DISNEYLAND, PARIS

The ultimate Disneyland hotel right in the heart of the Magic Kingdom. Facilities include an indoor pool, spa and Club Minnie playroom. Guests receive a FastPass and have plenty of opportunities for meet ‘n’ greet sessions with Disney characters.

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LA BAUME, FREJUS, FRENCH RIVIERA

Well-equipped holiday parc with every amenity imaginable, from Fun Stations for kids aged four and above to a soundproof disco for over-16s. On-site activities include tennis, archery and cycling and there are lovely beaches nearby if you can tear yourself away from the parc’s two pool complexes.

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DOMAINE DE DUGNY, BLOIS, LOIRE VALLEY

Four-star holiday parc in the heart of the Loire Valley with indoor and outdoor pools, children’s play areas, archery, bike hire, boules, crazy golf, fishing, pedalos, table tennis, volleyball and free football tournaments for all age groups. Holiday extras include baby packs and free children’s clubs for kids aged one to 14.

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OPIO EN PROVENCE, NICE, PROVENCE

Tucked into olive groves and pine forests, this all-inclusive resort boasts luxurious accommodation and a wide range of facilities, including four swimming pools, Turkish and Roman baths, golf course, kids’ clubs, Circus School, and teen-only spaces.

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COUNTRY KIDS, HERAULT, NEAR MONTPELIER

With its drop-in crèche, splash-pool, play area and petting farm this stylish self-catering accommodation also has a huge range of nursery and play equipment on hand. The grounds include a tennis court, heated swimming pool and a farm shop fully stocked with homemade meals. Two free activities are included per guest.

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William Gray, the editor of Family Travel Expert, has written a series of award-winning family travel guidebooks. Find out more about family holidays in France by ordering your copy of Europe with Kids here.

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The Family Travel Expert's William Gray is also the editor of 101familyholidays.co.uk, packed with 101 unusual and original ideas for family holidays worldwide. Click here to visit the website.