The French Riviera with Kids

SD › French Riviera with Kids
Updated: April 6, 2022
By Santorini Dave

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The Top 10 Things to Do with Kids on the French Riviera

The port of Cannes, France.

Guest author: Karin Dodson Gignoux.

The French Riviera (also known as the Côte d’Azur) is a great place to tour as a family! Despite the glamorous image associated with the Riviera due to the Cannes film festival and the yachting industry that attracts the famous and wealthy, the Riviera is incredibly family-friendly. The renowned Mediterranean weather lends itself to all sorts of outdoor activities, sightseeing, and adventures.

It was difficult to narrow the list to just 10 suggestions. With kids, you can visit many of the popular destinations as well as do some attractions that you might not visit otherwise.

When to Visit South France

My favorite times of year are the early spring and summer and fall. As of April 1st, all the hotels and restaurants are open, and many museums and attractions move to high-season hours. The weather is generally nice with occasional rain but not too hot. And, best of all, it’s not too crowded to manage outings with a family.

The 2nd half of May is very busy with the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix and I would advise against a visit then unless you are attending one of these events. August is the height of the vacation season in France and everything is very busy with tourism. The upside is that everything is open; there are lots of special events and things to do and see. The weather is almost always great with little rain and hot days and balmy evenings with late sunsets around 9.00pm. The downside is the traffic, crowded restaurants and beaches, and grumpy service staff from long hours and demanding customers.

Nice is my favorite place to stay and use as a base in the south of France.

Top 10 Things to Do

1. Cimiez, Nice

In the heart of Nice lies one of the most beautiful neighborhoods that also features an amazing park with Roman ruins the city’s, the Matisse museum, and the Archaeological Museum. The Matisse museum was renovated in 2006 and features some of his art and artifacts from his nearby studio. Visiting Cimiez is a perfect half-day visit. It’s accessible via foot, car, and bus from the Promenade des Anglais.

2. Nice Beach and Old Town

This was one of our recent early spring outings. The beaches from Nice to Antibes are stone beaches and are great for a beach day while keeping relatively clean. In the summer the beaches are lifeguarded and many are public access. My son loves to throw rocks in the water, and I love to people watch and swim. Since you’re there, right in the middle of town, a walk through the ancient old town is obligatory and a post-beach gelato in order. Visit Crema di Gelati on the Place du Palais in front of the Courthouse. On Saturday the booksellers set up their stalls with some amazing antique books and prints (just keep sticky fingers away!).

3. Cap d’Antibes, Antibes/Juan-les-Pins

You might notice Cap d’Antibes when you fly into the Nice airport – lots of huge mansions and a lighthouse in the middle of the promontory. By law, the shoreline must be accessible, and the city of Antibes has placed a walk around the rocky edge of the cape. Going full circle takes approximately 1-1 1/5 hours. More if you have young walkers. It’s an easy walk though with plenty of places to stop to take in the view, have a swim or a snack. Access starts/ends at the Plage Garoupe that has free parking and a small public-access beach. Or pay ½ price at the end of the afternoon and let your kids play in the water while you enjoy a rest on one of the chaise lounges.

4. La Croisette, Cannes

There is no better place for Riviera life than the famed Croissette. You can spend a couple of hours walking the length of it starting at the Palais du Festival (taking pictures on the red carpet, naturally). For younger kids, there is permanent mini-carnival with small playground, beautiful double-decker carousel, small carnival rides and games, and snack bar. At the other end of the Croisette is a playground proper. In the middle all the hotel beaches for people watching. There are snack bars for sandwiches, ice cream and cold drinks all along the route. Occasionally in winter, we stop for a hot chocolate at the Carlton to breathe in the atmosphere and to make me feel like I’m Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief.

5. Iles des Lérins, Cannes

We love the peacefulness of the car-free, nicely preserved islands in the bay of Cannes. Take the 10-minute ferry from Cannes port to one of the two islands. St. Marguerite is the larger, and closer of the two, while St. Honorat has an active monastery and old fort for kids to run around. The two have unpaved trails that criss-cross the island. Pack a picnic and find a little rocky place to put your feet in the Med while you eat. Swimming is fun for advanced swimmers. My older one like to play among the small pools in the rocks and to run along the beach pines.

6. Fondation Maeght, St.Paul de Vence

Just next to the beautiful village of St. Paul de Vence, the Fondation Maeght is a contemporary art museum set in a modern building on landscaped gardens – great to explore. The museum has a wonderful, peaceful atmosphere and is not too big that kids get bored. Kids under 10 get in free.

7. Monaco Aquarium

Perfect for a rainy day. Parents on the Riviera struggle for rainy-day activities and this one is the top of everybody’s list.

8. Nice Chateau

Whether you hike up the steps or take the elevator for your stroller a visit to the Nice chateau, situated between the Old Town and the Port is a great outing. The chateau was originally the site of the fort that guarded the city when it fell in 1706. The views from the top are spectacular and there are ruins to visit as well as a snack bar and playground for both young and old kids.

9. Dining in Valbonne

This may be a bit of a booster for my hometown, but I find it’s a terrific place to eat with kids. The restaurants all ring an enclosed square where children can run free and the food is kid-friendly. On summer evenings there is always some kind of entertainment with musicians and magicians doing tricks.

10. The Festivals

The Riviera is the host of festivals year-round, most of which cater to families. Here is an abbreviated list.
January: Monaco Circus
February: Nice Carnaval
June: Fete de la Musique, 21st of June. A national festival celebrated in each city and town highlighting different styles of music with live performances.
July: Fete Nationale on the 14th (Bastille Day), Jazz in Juan-les-Pins, Nice Jazz Festival in Cimiez August: Cirque Gruss in Valbonne and Nice.
September & October: Local food and harvest festivals across the region
December: Christmas markets in towns throughout the Riviera and Provence.

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About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio. Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loved Greece, travel, and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers and researchers on a mission to deliver the most helpful travel content on the internet. We specialize in Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece and recommend the best hotels, best neighborhoods, and best family hotels in top destinations around the world. We also make hotel maps and travel videos. I can be contacted at

  1. Cannes or Nice for Family Holiday

    Great information…just like your Greece info!
    Do you have a recommendation on Cannes vs Nice for a spring holiday with a 5 and 7 year old? We plan to use one or the other as a base for day trips along the coast.

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Both Cannes and Nice make great bases for South France. I prefer Nice as a city, though Cannes has a much better beach.

  2. Where To Go with Kids in South France

    We are a group of 5 couples with kids about 5 years of age. We would like to visit France in the latter half of May with 6 nights at disposal. 3 nights understandably would be in Paris, due to the Disneyland. Which is the best place to spend 3 nights if we are arriving from Switzerland most likely by train? I was thinking of Nice as an option.

    1. David The Hotel Expert

      Nice is a wonderful mid-sized city with lots to do and a good central location for visiting other places in South France. Highly recommended.

  3. Kid-Friendly Towns on the Cote D'Azur

    Thank you so much for sharing. It’s been difficult to get family friendly information on the Cote D’Azur. We have 3 kids under the age of 4 and plan to move to France from Canada sometime in August/Sept. It sounds like you have a lot of information regarding hotels but I’m wondering if you have suggestions on places to live near Cannes. I’ve looked at many of the suggested places like Mougins, Valbonne, Biot, Opio, Vence, Antibes, but all these areas look very hilly and not great for kids to run free or ride their bike. I’m almost thinking there is no such place unless we move an hour away into the countryside or farther south along the Riviera. We need to be close (under an hour drive) to the international airport and schools. Any suggestions?
    Judy Leduc

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I don’t know the small towns all that well. I do think that Nice is a fantastically kid-friendly city (and 35 minutes by train from Cannes) but I’m guessing that’s not what you’re looking for.

  4. Family Vacation in South France in June

    Hi, our family will be going to France for the last two weeks of June. We will begin with 5 nights in Paris, followed by 6 night in Provence and then would like to spend 4 nights along the Med, closer to Marseille (as we fly out on the morning after our 4th night). We would like to stay in a smaller, quiet and quaint coastal village. We are wondering about Cassis? Or if there is somewhere we may not have come across yet. We hope to swim, beach, kayak and hike. We are not hotel or resort people, rather more B&B or inns. Thanks so much for your assistance. Christine Zucht

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Cassis is lovely, but it sounds like you would enjoy Saint-Cyr Sur Mer more. It’s less touristy than Cassis and more along the lines of the small quaint coastal village you’re looking for. It’s still within easy driving distance to Marseille and has lots of options for all the outdoor activities you’re looking for. For hiking, there are trails along the Mediterranean or along the Creek of Port Alon. Alternatively, there are trails that take you through vineyards and the area’s AOC wine producing region. For water sports, you’ll be able to pick from everything from kayaking to kite surfing to scuba diving. The beaches of Cassis might be nicer, but you have a few options in Saint-Cyr Sur Mer between Les Lecques and the beach of Madrague.

  5. One Week Somewhere Not in Paris

    Thank you for all the wonderful responsive, family-focussed info!
    My family (including 3 children – 9, 6 and 4) are visiting France from Australia for 3 weeks in June/July.
    We having booked an apartment near Rue Cler in Paris for 10 days then plan to spend a week elsewhere in France with another family with young children.
    We would like somewhere not too touristy, where the children can relax and interact with locals (practising their French!) but there is still a mixture of physical and cultural activities on offer.
    I’m wondering whether you think the Ardeche would be a good option? We have visited Provence before and are keen to try a different area.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      In general, the Ardeche is known for its beautiful landscapes and rugged terrain. It’s full of canyons and grottos and a great option if you’re into hiking, camping and similar activities. There are some amazing caves including the Pont d’Arc Cavern, known for housing the earliest cave paintings in the world which date back 30,000 years. There are also lots of places to kayak or paddle too and Les Gorges de L’Ardeche is a good spot for that. If you’re staying there a week and presumably renting a car, you’ll have more cultural activities close by. Grenoble, an hour or so away, is definitely worth exploring. There are several noteworthy museums including the regionally focused Musee Dauphinois in a former 17th Century convent, a contemporary art museum and a natural history museum. One of Grenoble’s highlights are the cable cars that run up to the top of La Bastille hill. Since the city is s known as the “Capital of the Alps,” on a clear day you can see Mont Blanc from the top.

  6. Nice, France for Family of 3

    Hi! We are going to the Nice area in early October. Was wondering how we can find a reliable babysitter for a few nights while we are there for our 2 1/2yo. Also, is it best to rent an apartment or stay in a hotel for little ones down there? We will only be there 4 nights. We will likely rent a car so we can see more things, if it’s recommended. Thanks in advance!


    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      A good hotel will be able to arrange a babysitter (but no, I don’t have any resources for you). Black/White Apartments are great but you can miss some of the services that a hotel will offer (like finding you a babysitter). Unless you have a specific destination that’s not on the train lines I would just take the train around the area – it’s fun and easy.

  7. South France with Teens

    We are looking to travel to the France this summer and are wondering how much time would we need to see Paris and then maybe head to Provence or Ville franche sur mer along the french riviera. We are traveling with our boys 19 and 17 and our 12 year old daughter. I assume all the beaches are topless down on the coast and wondering if that might be too distracting for our kids-especially our boys!

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      How much time? Well, the more the better, but you could do this in a week. 2 weeks would be better. Women (of all ages) are topless about 50% of the time in South France. It’s always a lot less of an issue (for everyone) than you expect. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  8. Sainte Maxime with Kids

    Nice is a perfect city to set up base to explore the South of France, but the coastal area is pretty long so if you’re up for a more a smaller location the definitely got to Sainte Maxime.

  9. Rent a Car or Train in France?

    We’re doing France with our daughters ages 8 and 11 years this summer. All of July will be in Cap d’antibes. We’re thinking of renting a car for the entire trip which is about 6 weeks. Do you think car is better than train given frequent trips to Monaco, Monte Carlo, St Tropez and of course Paris to Antibes and back? We’ve done it by car without the kids before, it was not inconvenient, sometimes parking was difficult to get. Or do you think train is easier and more affordable?


    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I don’t think it has to be either/or. I’d rent a car for the busiest week or two when you expect to be making lots of short trips. But getting around by train in France is half the fun so I would definitely use that as my main form of transport.

  10. France in Summer with Kids


    My family and I are going to be in France late June, early July. The girls are 11 & 13. They travel well. My current plan is to stay a couple of nights in Paris and then train at night from Paris to Cannes. ( I think we have to transfer in Nice). We were thinking that by traveling at night, with someone else driving, that this would be a good use of time and economical (sleeper birth).


    * Do you find this mode of travel from Paris to Cannes economical and efficient? Have you done it before?
    * If you recommend the train at night, do you recommend buying the tickets now? I ask because it is rumored that buying tickets locally is much less expensive. I’m assuming purchasing train tickets online is geared towards tourists and thus more expensive.
    * If I buy first class seats instead of the sleeper birth, is it reasonable to think we will get a good sleep in such seats?


    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Yes, this is a great way to travel and the kids will love it. We’ve done many overnight trains and I’ve done them myself in France (but never in France as a family).

      Here is good information on traveling by train in France and how to buy tickets:

    2. Flying with Ryan Air

      You could even plan to fly! Tickets on RyanAir are very cheap! We flew from Frankfurt to London for $136 TOTAL for a family of 5. I highly recommend looking into that.

  11. France with Kids in June

    We are planning a trip to France in early June. I have booked 3 nights in Paris in an apartment in St. Germain already and then have 6 nights before we fly out of Nice back to the US. I would love advice on how to make the most of this time…splitting between two cities, maybe something inland first. We like the beach, to stroll, eat well, and prefer quaint and lovely places. While I want to stay somewhere that offers the ability to make easy trips, I don’t want to give up the chance to go somewhere really lovely for a few days either.


    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      A stop in Lyon (or Lake Geneva) as you go south would be great. Monaco is super kid-friendly and would be worth a night or two as well. The trains between the towns of France along the south coast run often and make the area easy to explore.

    2. Amye

      Hello Jessia – we are doing a very similar trip at the end of June – July! I would love to hear what your experience is like (you may be there right now!) and any recommendations you have upon your return. Sounds like our travel styles might be similar. Merci!

  12. Ville Franche Sur Mer with Kids

    We are headed to Ville Franche Sur Mer this week and will stay for five nights. Are there any resorts or hotels that allow day use access to their pools. We will also go to the beaches but thought a nice pool day would be fun. Thank you

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      A few hotels have swimming pools (Le Versailles, La Fiancée du Pirate, Pierre et Vacances Residence) but not sure about day use. Wish I could be more help. Good luck.

  13. Cannes with Young Family

    Wow, very helpful. My family and I are traveling to Cannes this summer for three weeks. The information you provided is helpful as we attempt to plan out the three weeks. Knowing that it is kid friendly is great. We have a four year-old and a 5 month-old. We can’t wait to get there and explore the many towns and attractions on the French Riviera!
    Byron Etchegary

  14. Hotel for Family of 5 in South France

    Thanks for all the great ideas! My family of 5 will be in Cannes and surrounding area for 3 days in mid-June. Still haven’t booked a hotel. Do you have any favorites? We would love a pool and close to beach but don’t want a totally “American” feeling hotel. Any with suite big enough to accommodate all 5 of us would be best. Please let me know if you have any ideas!

  15. Indoor Activities for Kids in South France

    Thank you for the tips! We are heading to Nice with a very energetic 2.5 year old and a 3 month old – and the forecast is 5 days of rain. Do you have any suggestions for indoor activities beyond the Monaco aquarium (which we will surely do one day)? Thank you! Craig Wheelock

    1. Santorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Here’s a great list of things to do specifically in Nice for kids: Good luck.

  16. Cannes and Monaco with Kids in July

    We’re just back from hols in Cannes and Monaco in July. As a family of five, two teenagers and a 10 yr old we would recommend using the little tourist trains in Nice and Monaco. We found the heat a drain on us, since we’re not used to those temps, but the little trains meant you got to see everything without having to walk everywhere. Then we could focus on what we really wanted to go back and do. The Fireworks in Monaco were the best we’ve ever seen. Very happy with the free sandy beaches in cannes, but would recommend the ones next to the Croisette as they were less shelving. Good toilet across from them too. Plus little fairground rides.
    Suzie Hull

  17. Nice, France with Kids

    We went last October mostly around Nice. It was great. My kids (5 and 3) really got a blast at MarinaLand in Antibes. Also the little farm was good. As far as beaches, we went to the one in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat called “Plage de passable” : I really recommend it, small but unique!

  18. South France with Kids in September and October

    We took the kids to the coast in September and October and got great weather. Not so busy and hotels were much easier to get, and better prices. We thought it was a perfect destination for kids and parents. Lots of things to do that seem to work for both age groups. Renting a car was a must as most things we planned on were a little ways from where we were staying.

  19. The Best Beaches for Family in South France

    What are the best beaches along the french riviera? With kids or without. We’ll be there a week with a baby and toddler and then 3 or 4 days without the little ones who’ll be going to Paris with the Grandparents.


    1. Karin Dodson


      East of Antibes is all stone beaches which I like a lot for the fun of looking at the stones and the ease of cleanup with little ones. Also – the kids like to throw the stones in the water.

      West of Antibes, it’s all sand, and it really depends on what you like. You can join the crowds and get yourself a lounge chair & sun parasol at one of the private beaches along the Croisette in Cannes or go a bit further out and enjoy a bit more solitude in Theole-Sur-Mer or Frejus.

      Hope that helps!

  20. Karin Dodson Gignoux

    My mountaineering husband was VERY disappointed that I didn’t mention any of the mountain activities. If you’re into that – hiking, canyoning, paragliding, skiing in winter, mountain biking, road cycling, etc., then the Alpes-Maritimes is a perfect place. Just 45 minutes inland you can find any number of places/activities that are kid friendly. Our favorite is hiking in Greolieres which is easy with a kid in a backpack and for those that can already walk a bit. Also nice is the Gorges du Loup for hot summer days. You can get free travel guides with walking/hiking routes geared towards families at local tourist offices.

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