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3 and a Half Weeks in France with Kids! {Part 2}

We (myself, my wife, 9 year old daughter and 5 year old daughter) just returned from our trip and wanted to thank everyone on this board and at RS headquarters for their insights and helpful advice along the way. I've included a listing of our activities below for your interest. The starred (*) items are those that we found to be exceptionally fantastic for every member of our family.

It was very hot for most of our trip, which caused us to do more swimming than expected, which was fun for everybody. We missed out on touring Sarlat, Les Baux and Nimes because of the heat, but otherwise things went as planned! We cooked just about every meal and enjoyed getting to know the butchers and small shop owners along the way, particularly in Beynac.

Thanks Again!

-Matt and family

Wednesday July 8
• Swimming in the pool in the morning
• Toured Arles after lunch
• Attended the Course Camarguaise bull games in the evening in Arles*
• Dinner of steak Provencal with mashed potatoes*

Thursday July 9
• Drove to Gordes and the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque in the morning
o Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque was too crowded – no room to park – so we moved on
• Stopped at a lavender field on the side of the road en route to Joucas*
• Toured Joucas, lunch at a café*
• Kids played at the very nice playground in Joucas after lunch
• Hiked Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon*
• Dinner of fish and seafood soup Provencal*
• Evening walk in Tarascon
• Swimming in the pool

Friday July 10
• Toured the Pont du Gard in the morning
• Toured the Musee du Bonbon Haribo after lunch
• Swimming in the pool
• Dinner of steak Provencal with mashed potatoes

Saturday July 11
• Drove from Tarascon to Annecy (360 km)
• Settled into gite
• Evening walk through Annecy
• Dinner of pork chop from butcher with remaining Provencal accompaniments*
• Ice cream

Sunday July 12
• Market day in Annecy in the morning
• Boat cruise of Lake Annecy after lunch
• Dinner of pasta with heirloom tomatoes
• Evening walk through Annecy with ice cream, playgrounds and carousel

Monday July 13
• Morning walk through Annecy
• Rode the Luge D-Ete in Semnoz*
• Continued up the road (Semnoz) to Alpine views and cow pastures for incredible picnic lunch*
• Evening walk through Annecy with ice cream and playgrounds
• Viewed Lake Annecy town fireworks from Annecy

Tuesday July 14 (Bastille Day)
• Market day in Annecy in the morning
• Toured the Gorges du Fier after lunch
• Swimming in the Fier river
• Diner of Tartiflette*
• Fireworks in the evening

Wednesday July 15
• Drove to Chamonix in the early morning
• Toured the Aiguille du Midi*
• Picnic lunch on the mountain*
• Took the Montenvers train and toured the Mer de Glace after lunch*
• Checked into hotel and had dinner at a restaurant
• Evening walk of Chamonix town

Thursday July 16
• Took the cable cars up to Le Brevent*
• Took the Flegere cable car and the L’index chair lift up the mountain*
• Picnic lunch and snowball fight on the mountain*
• Rode the L’index chair lift several more times*
• Drove back to our gite in Annecy
• Dinner of pork chops from the butcher and mashed potatoes

Friday July 17
• Annecy market day
• Lunch of assorted sausages from butcher
• Swimming in Lake Annecy after lunch
• Packing and preparing for return home
• Dinner of mussels and French fries

Saturday July 18
• Drive to Geneva airport and fly home to Boston via Iceland

Posted by
23576 posts

I like it.

Your reports have given me a suggestion or three for a future trip of my own.

Posted by
6805 posts

What a great trip for everyone, despite the heat. I love that you took the girls to the Bonbon Haribo museum.

Posted by
4214 posts

How lucky your children are to have had such a fun and exciting trip! And to have you as parents!

Posted by
287 posts

What a wonderful trip! Thanks for your report - you have now inspired me to begin planning for our next trip...and I just returned from our family trip to Paris and Switzerland a few days ago! It sounds like you had a great balance of activities, delicious food, and were courageous about driving around France...something I've not attempted yet.

Thank you for sharing your adventures.

Laurie

Posted by
74 posts

Hi neighbor!! :) So exciting to read about your trip with your girls. We leave in 6 weeks for 2.5 weeks in france with our 3.5 year old daughter!

Most of our itinerary doesn't overlap, though we are staying in the Loire for 3 nights and then Avignon-area for 2, so I was excited to read about those parts especially. I am glad you found Chenonceau so wonderful, as that is definitely on our must-do list.

It doesn't sound like you ate out much, that has been my work lately finding restaurants that are both delicious for us and kid-friendly for our daughter.

Anyway thank you for the post trip report and glad you had a great family vacation!

Posted by
603 posts

Thanks everyone - it was a great trip and I actually found the driving (from Tours to Geneva) to be fun and easy.

Lauren - I grew up in Swansea and know Taunton very well (I even worked at the wastewater treatment plant one summer). Have a great trip. If you haven't read it already, I found 'Take Your Kids to Europe' by Cynthia Harriman to be a good read and the podcast Join Us in France to be super informative (www.joinusinfrance.com). Their episode on driving in france was the best and most accurate resource for all of my driving questions and they also have an episode on traveling in Europe with kids!

After 12 months of prep I don't know where to turn next.......I need a new hobby!

-Matt

Posted by
74 posts

Thank you for the information!! We too are planning on driving around (we'll have a car the entire trip) but I am not too concerned about the drives. Our longer ones are around 4.5 hours and I've planned stops about halfway (Guedelon Medieval site is one I am really looking forward to). I was talking to my daughter yesterday about our trip to France and all the castles we'll see (she's 3) and she asked if there are genies in them. Hmm. Not sure how much she will get out of the trip but we are looking forward to it nonetheless.

I'll definitely look into those suggestions! I've spent a lot of time researching as well and love any new information that comes up.

You'll just have to plan your next trip! We do Disney (world) a lot so those are my in between trips. Not sure where in the world we'll head to next after France, we have a baby on the way so it may be a while and might stay stateside a bit longer than usual.

Posted by
47 posts

What Gite did you rent in Annecy? We are a family of four looking to stay in Annecy for 5-7 nights before we do the Tour Du Mont Blanc next July (2016), and I have been trying to find the perfect accomodation. Thank you.
Michele

Posted by
84 posts

what was your favorite part? did you like Annecy?

Posted by
603 posts

The 2 days in Chamonix and the week in Beynac were me and my wife's favorites. The kids ranked Chamonix and Annecy their first and second favorites.

I liked Annecy very much. Note the need for a parking space as they are otherwise hard to come by. The place we stayed in was great, though likely too small for your family of 5.