Family-friendly places to stay in France
From staying high up in treehouses to sleeping next to Arctic wolves in a zoo, France has a lot to offer for family-friendly stays
Domaine de Manville, Bouches-du-Rhône
Transformed from a working farm, this five-star retreat lies just below the medieval Plus Beau Village of Les Baux-de-Provence. Children can run free in the 40 hectares of protected parkland, but most will prefer playing games and making friends at the hotel’s summer club, which is based in two wooden caravans. Parents can slip away to enjoy the two restaurants, spa and swimming pool, private cinema and 18-hole golf course.
Château de Saint-Paterne, Sarthe/Orne
This hotel and chambre d’hotes close to Alençon makes it possible to combine small children’s needs and luxurious comfort. Trampolines, swings, a treehouse and a swimming pool will certainly keep the little ones busy and the special kids menu – served earlier than the grown ups’ dinner – will satisfy hungry tummies. After bedtime, adults are invited to enjoy an aperitif in a stunning bohemian-style salon before sitting down with the other guests to tuck into a delicious meal.
Mas des Grès, Luberon
This charming hotel in Vaucluse is great for families because, during spring and autumn holidays, under-13s stay for free in their parents’ room. The children can take a cookery course or go on cycling outings while adults have the pick of golf, truffle hunting weekends and olive oil and wine tastings. The 14 rooms and suites each have their own character, and most are big enough to accommodate the entire family, who can also enjoy the extensive gardens, a swimming pool and a restaurant serving Provençal dishes.
Auberge des VoyaJoueurs, Morbihan
Families with a competitive streak can pick between 400 games at this fun-loving hotel in Brittany. Life-sized playing boards, marble sets, pins and turntables are among the collection drawn from many eras and countries. Relax in one of the ten rooms after a successful day’s play or explore the nearby Brocéliande forest – setting of several Arthurian legends – on foot, bike, or horseback.
Château Ribagnac, Limoges
This restored castle and chambre-d’hôtes set amid 33 hectares of grounds has five family-friendly rooms. Little ones have the pick of outdoor games, a play area and nature trails, while parents can relax in the sumptuous interiors or stroll in the countryside. Under 10 year olds also have their own early dinner time.
Le Manoir du Moulin, Vendée
This charming manor house has been renovated to a very high standard, offering stunning accommodation suitable for the whole family. The whole place is tastefully decorated, offering luxurious touches that everyone will appreciate and rooms are big enough to add extra beds and cots. With deck chairs and hammocks carefully positioned under a willow tree in the garden, the Manoir du Moulin is perfect for a relaxing stay.
Le Mas de Jouas, Aveyron
At this secluded chambre d’hôtes ten minutes from the town of Villefranche-de-Rouergue, hosts Abbi and Danny offer table-d’hôte meals with a special sitting for youngsters and other child-friendly facilities. The three multi-room suites are in a converted barn complete with communal area and there is also an outdoor pool and babysitting service.
Le Castel, Manche
This 19th-century château serves up stately grandeur and child-friendly cheer. With the pick of four antique-furnished suites, families are treated to a children’s early meal service and grounds peppered with a woodland den, sandpit, pool and toy-strewn marquee in summertime. Le Mont-Saint-Michel and the Bayeux Tapestry are nearby.
The Beachhouse, Gironde
After long, balmy days on the sandy Atlantic coast, you can stroll back to this 1930s beach cottage with its terracotta tiles, pretty patterns and pastel-painted wood furnishings. The covered veranda, complete with rocking chair and pot plants, is perfect for leisurely lunches. Older children can explore the town’s shops and 200-stall market, while parents head for the famous Médoc vineyards, a short drive away.
Le Verger, Lot-et-Garonne
Converted from a chambre d’hôtes, Le Verger makes a fantastic holiday home in Dordogne. Tastefully decorated with elegant furniture, mirrors and picture frames, the gîte can sleep up to 10 people. Cots and high chair are available for little ones but the main draws are the wonderful veranda overlooking the orchard to the west of the house and the large swimming pool in the garden.
Le Caillau, Lot Valley
Grown-up gourmets and creative children will love this self-contained, two-bedroomed gîte in the grounds of a 300-year-old winery set amid the vineyards of Cahors. Owners Chas and Caroline provide many amenities, ranging from a pottery painting atelier to a café and restaurant. The gîte has a modern kitchen and large private garden with a heated pool treehouse and sandpit. Baby monitors and high chairs are available.
Le Jardin à la Française, Dordogne
Families can spoil themselves rotten at this renovated 17th-century honeystone manoir set in 30 hectares of grounds south of Périgueux. There are eight bedrooms and two separate children’s bedrooms as well as a large games room and 18m x 9m outdoor swimming pool. The rental company can organise a chef service, hot-air balloon rides, French lessons, guided tours, bike hire, massage and yoga sessions.
Zoo de la Flèche, Sarthe
If your children like animals then they will adore this unique and exciting experience offered at the Zoo de la Flèche where you can sleep in one of the incredible lodges placed within enclosures in the zoo: next to the lemurs, by the white tiger, looking on to the Arctic wolves or the polar bears and – if you dare – next to the Grizzly bears. Intrepid visitors enter their lodge at 6.30pm and cannot get out until 9am the next day, only to enjoy an almost empty zoo the next morning before visitors arrive.
Orion B&B, Provence
Channel your inner Tarzan by staying in one of four tree houses perched in woods near the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Each one is named after a character in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and comes with a toilet and shower, tea and coffee-making facilities, Wi-Fi connection and a hairdryer; the Shere Khan even has a teak bath tub. At ground level, there is a swimming pool and sauna.
La Ferme de Penquelen Huella, Finistère
Children can get their hands dirty at this working dairy farm near Quimper in Brittany. Routines include feeding chickens, petting lambs and exploring paths through the forest. The semi-permanent tents have feather-duvet double beds and bunk beds, and allow families to enjoy the simple pleasures of yesteryear such as gas lighting and a wood-burning stove.
La Ferme Aventure, Vosges
Strap in for a night on a converted jet airliner, stargaze in a Pink Floyd-style glass pyramid or hit the hay in a Wild West wagon at this unusual park near Épinal. With tree houses, water cabins, yurts and teepees among other options, the site is sure to add an extra dimension to a family holiday.
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