Family Travel

Exploring the French Riviera with kids

June 12, 2018

The French Riviera.  The South of France.  Côte d’Azur. All have the same meaning, so call it whatever you want, this picturesque place is one to add to your bucket list.

The French Riviera covers 550 miles along the Mediterranean Sea and got its nickname Côte d’Azur (blue) coast in 1887. I have never seen water that is so clear. It was breathtakingly beautiful and super salty.

We spent 10 days at the Yellow Village, Les Tournels in Ramatuelle, located about 15 minutes drive from St Tropez. It was our first French camping experience, and definitely not the last.

Les Tournels

This Resort did not disappoint in at all. It has a 5 star rating, and is definitely worthy of it. The campsite is beautifully laid out, the cabins are well equipped and is the perfect family resort. Our cabin had a beautiful sea view with a deck where we could enjoy our meals together in the mornings. This resort really is the perfect place for any budget. They have stands, allocated for tents, or campers or caravans, and then different cabins for your family needs. I wouldn’t mind trying the whole tent camping experience, but my husband isn’t very keen on the idea with 3 boys… can you imagine?!

What actually drew me to the resort was probably the kids club, that my kids loved, and the swimming pool area. There are different slides for the kids to enjoy, there is a kiddie pool and a bigger pool for the grown ups. The campsite also has a fantastic play area for the kids. with swings and slides, shaped into firetrucks and pirate ships, your kids imagination can run wild.

There is a restaurant and bar on the premises. The restaurant has amazing food. My husband enjoyed an all you can eat BBQ one evening, the kids loved the bambino pizzas, and they have an amazing salmon pasta. And then for dessert they have a variety of ice creams, one that I had was, chocolate ice-cream with chocolate mouse with dark chocolate pieces drizzled with dark chocolate sauce and topped with cream and a chocolate wafer… talk about “Death By Chocolate”. One of the French specialities is a “Café Gourmand”, which is basically for the individual that just can’t choose so they will just have it all, in bite size portions that is, with a shot of espresso.

There is a beautiful spa with a heated indoor swimming pool, hot tubs with jets, aquatic bikes, and a sauna. There is even a hair salon on the premises.

My husband booked me in for a 1 hour full body massage, while he looked after the kids (husband of the year I tell you!)  It was a rather strange experience. I shared on my insta stories. But in the end it was really relaxing.

The best part of this little village is that it is so close to some really great places, like St Maxime, St Tropez, Grimaud, Pampelonne Beach, Ramatuelle. We tried to explore some of these places while there. Every town boasts a whole lot of learning and teaching opportunities for kids. Keep in mind, we tried to visit 1 village a day, and we found what worked best for us was to make sure the kids were fed before exploring, it can be a challenge to explore new places with kids, but if they are fed they are happy (most of the time).

Recommended things to do in St Maxime.

  • Have lunch at l’Ormeau. You have to try the escargots (snails) its a French delicacy. They also have amazing fries. And the staff are really friendly and accommodating towards the kids.

  • Next up dessert. Try Coco Glaces for some delicious slushees, and ultra creamy homemade ice cream with over 40 flavours to choose from. For a unique ice cream experience try Amorino. They scoop the ice-cream onto the cone in the shape of a flower and then add a macaroon on the top. It is authentic Italian Gelato, made with only natural ingredients. There are 27 different flavours with no artificial colouring or flavourings.

 

  • After the tummies are full and every one is satisfied go for a educational, historical train ride through the town. The little train is located near the harbour, it takes about 45 minutes to go through the town and the commentary is in French and English. This is by far the easiest way to see a town and learn the history of it, in my own opinion.

  • End off with a merry-go-round for the kids.
  • There are really chic shops all along the promenade, with the most gorgeous sandals and dresses and then a few shops for souvenirs etc.

Recommended things to do in St Tropez.

St Tropez ia all the hype and more! With loads of upscale boutiques and charming restaurants, there is also a Art Museum “Le Musée de l’Annonciade” that we just went into the front door and then realised this was going to bore the kids then headed back out. There is also a very glamorous Restaurant L’Opera St Tropez. This is the type of place you would want to go for your anniversary, its exquisite!  We literally just walked past till we noticed a wall with topless women art on the walls. Definitely not the type of place you take your kids to…haha… so we distracted them with all the boats.

  • Discover the hustle and bustle of the Place des Lices “Provencal” Market. The market is on every Tuesday and Saturday. Its a fantastic market with a huge variety of pastries, cheeses, olives, flowers and some really gorgeous clothing and jewellery. If you plan on going on a Saturday make sure you go early, the market starts at 10:30, but try to be there before, because it gets really crowded by 11:00 am. Try the Sacristain pastry, its a twisted puff pastry sprinkled with nuts and sugar. Buy some magnet souvenirs. Taste the local spices. Definitely try the stall that sells Gâteau Maison, its a hollow pastry that is wrapped around a wooden cylinder and then baked, and then lastly rolled into cinnamon sugar or chocolate powder. That thing didn’t last 5 minutes with my boys.

 

 

  • Walk along the the boardwalk and admire the luxury yachts, and local arts.
  • There are some gorgeous beaches there as well with clear sparkly waters.
  • You have to try the Tarte tropézienne, also known as “La Tarte de Saint-Tropez”. Its a delicious cream filled brioche with tiny icing sugar balls sprinkled on top. It was created in 1955 by Alexandre Micka, a pâtisserie owner in Saint-Tropez. Brigitte Bardot suggested the name while she was there filming “And God Created Woman”, but she didn’t care too much about the fact that it’s not actually a tart.

Recommended things to do in Grimaud.

This was by far one of my most favourite little villages to visit. Everything about this place left me in awe. The little cobbled streets, the abundance of flowers throughout the streets, the colourful shutters and arched doors.  The history in this village is so rich.

 

  • First stop the Église Saint-Michel (Saint-Michel Church). Built in granite and limestone in 1766, the quality and construction of the church was a indication of the wealth at the end of the 12th century and beginning of the 13th century. The original architecture has been modified, such as the construction of the bell tower (16th century) and the sacristy (18th Century).
  • Next stop the Medieval Castle. A must see. The castle was built in the 11th century. The castle was destroyed in the Religious Wars. Rebuilt in the mid-17th century, it was abandoned after the French Revolution. Read more at https://www.golfe-saint-tropez-information.com/en/recreation/cultural-heritage/grimaud/grimaud-castle/3024 . It was amazing just walking on the ruins and imagining what it use to look like before it was destroyed. The kids enjoyed making up stories of people being caught and kept in the little dungeons and living out their own imagination.

 

  • Last stop was at a pastry shop bien sûr.  Try their delectable pizzas and the famous Tarte tropézienne. Anything and everything in there looked good. Unfortunately no coffee take aways though.

 

Recommended things to do at Pampelonne Beach.

You might want to go to the trendy Nikki Beach, which is just before you get Pampelonne beach, its not kid friendly, as in kids are not welcome there, and its not on the beach anyways. So we headed to La Place des Jumeaux, which is perfect for kids, there is a real family vibe and there is a cafe and restaurant there.

  • Enjoy the sea!!!
  • Remember to take a bucket, spade and any other toys needed to build sandcastles

  • Pack a soccer ball, rugby ball and play on the beach.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen and extra H2O, because it can get really hot.
  • Lastly a trick I learnt with kids: Use baby powder when the kids feet or bodies are covered with beach sand, it will come off easily without hurting them.

General travel Tips:

  1. Some of the best toiletries for kids and adults come from France. You will have no problem finding it in most pharmacies and grocery stores.
  2. French bakeries and dairy are the best in the world. So don’t worry if you have a fussy eater, your child will be just fine living off pana-chocholat (chocolate bread) and yogurt for the holiday.
  3. Pack Meds that you know. Pain meds for fever, anti-nausea and anti-diaree,  you don’t want to be caught off guard when your kid gets sick in the middle of the night. My son and husband were nauseas just for one day, it could of been the sun, or the tap water, or something they ate.
  4. Always carry cash. Most stalls only allow you to swipe your card if you spend more than 10 Euro.  Most tolls don’t have an attendant, you pay by machine, but we could use our credit card for that.  Also you can’t use a trolley at the airport or supermarket without a token or 1 euro coin, so make sure you have cash at all times.
  5. Pack a cardigan for the whole family. It gets chilly in the evenings.
  6. “Casino” “Spar” “E’lecrec” “Intermarche” are all supermarkets.
  7. Know that its not uncommon for woman to tan topless on the beaches or even at the swimming pools. My kids didn’t really notice it, but it was quite strange for me the first time I saw it.
  8. To keep the kids entertained on the road, I printed pictures of things they like (currently Moana, Avengers, Minions) for them to colour and they packed some of their legos in a lunch box to play with in the car.
  9. Full Cream milk is called “Entier”
  10. Usefull words in French:
    1. “Bonjoir” – Hello,
    2. “S’il vous Plaît” – Please
    3. “Table pour cinq” – Table for 5
    4. “Combien” – How Much?

Hope you enjoyed reading our travel experience. Comment if there are any places we can add to our next French Riviera Travel bucket list.

 

 

 

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply