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3 Weeks in France with Grandma and 4 year old


Looking for some advice for a 3 weeks in France for Summer of 2011.

We are a group of 4, myself (42), my husband (36), my daughter (4) and my mother (late 60's).

Both my husband and I have been to France before (twice each) but only to Paris and a short 3 days in Provence (which we LOVED, but it was too short). This will be my mother's first trip to France (to anywhere outside the U.S.), as well as my daughters. She is interested in the art (impressionists, esp.), and ancient villages. I am interested in food, antiques, and linens. My husband is an avid photographer, and loves the history, and of course my daughter is four, so she'll be interested in it all, but only for about 3 minutes.

All we know so far is that we plan to spend about 5 days in Paris; and a week (somewhere in Provence). We plan on renting a car once we leave Paris. Timing will be last week of June and the first 2 weeks of July.

So - suggestions on locations?

For Provence: I am split on two issues.

First - If you had your choice (keep in mind 4 year old), would you pick renting a house with a pool in a country setting (but you have to get in your car to see anything), or would you pick renting a house/apartment in a tiny cute ancient village, where amenities, and sites were at your feet?

Second - Do you think a few nights in the eastern/northeastern part (like grasse, or dignes-les-bains) is best, or would you stick to the western end of provence (avignon, aix, etc).


Posted by
79 posts

I planned a 3 wk trip last summer with my kids (6, 9 and 12) with my husband, cousin and mother (late 60's)to Switzerland, Paris and Munich. We rented a wonderful apartment in Paris through and were very glad to have the space and kitchen/laundry. The best thing we did was take a bike tour on our first day through BikeAbout Tours - gave us a great overview of the city and they were great with the kids.

The second best thing we did was take a day trip to Giverny to Monet's Garden 2 days before taking the kids to the L'Orangerie and the D'Orsay, so the paintings really felt relevant to them. The D'Orsay also has an English tour for kids, which gave us a nice break to see the art we wanted to see.

I wish I knew something about Provence, but I'm no help there. After traveling with kids, I would pick the pool over the quaint village any day n- that's what she will remember.

Posted by
5 posts

Great info, especially about the bike tour. I am with you on the pool - seems like a nice way to cool off/chill out after a day of hiking around and driving to those tiny villages. Thanks so much for the info.


Posted by
28100 posts

Melissa, many properties of all types in Provence will have swimming pools. My experience is that not all that I have seen have the protection you might have hoped for if you travel with a 4 year old.

Posted by
800 posts

Milissa, while I haven't been to Provence we have done several trips of 2-4 weeks with our kids over the years so I think I can address your first issue. We often stayed in Agriturismos or self-catering places for anywhere from 3-7 nights. This was a GREAT thing for my kids (who were older than yours, so even more important for you). It was a really nice break from being in the cities and a real change of pace from the rest of our trip. We were in small villages where there was 1 pub, or out in the countryside where we did have to drive even to eat. Every time we had a pool, the kids loved it, even if it meant we had to drive to eat, as we did in Tuscany. When we were in France, however, we did get the best of both - a small 2 bedroom in the cute village of Belves, PLUS it had a pool! So maybe you'll get both, but I'd still pick the cute place with pool as one of the stays - you'll have lots of other time with the sites closer by.

Posted by
5 posts

Nigel - thanks for the heads up - I have noticed that as well. Of course I cannot predict every moment of her behavior, but I feel ok about this. She's very good listener, and so far, generally does the right thing when asked to with a certain level of gravity. Also - our adult to child ratio is 3:1... I would be more concerned if there were more kids. But definitely something to keep in mind as we are searching... we are definitely leaning towards staying somewhere with a pool.

Posted by
1357 posts

Something to consider would be going to the Dordogne. We had planned a trip there last year, but ended up in Ireland instead. Others may have more info on the area. Lots of cute villages and castles in the area, you can canoe on the river, and there's caves with prehistoric paintings in them. As far as finding apartments, I'd go on the local tourism site for the city you're visiting and search for gites. I've found that they have more choices and better prices than going through VRBO.