We’re lucky here in St Albans in that we live just a short 20 minute train ride away from St Pancras International station – a gateway to Europe, right in the centre of London. When I was commuting I used to have to walk past Eurostar arrivals and departures every day and became quite jealous of all the people heading off on holiday in France, back from foodie trips in Brussels, or small children home from adventures in Disneyland Paris. When you have a look at a site like Hotel Direct and realise just how cheaply you can get hotels close to Disneyland it makes me more determined than ever that we have to take the children just as soon as Master C is big enough.
But it’s not just Disneyland that makes me want to take the children to France. Paris is an amazing city with so much to see and do in addition to Mickey Mouse that it seems slightly bonkers that we as a family live so close yet go there so infrequently. Paris also holds a soft spot for me as it’s the first place that Mr C and I ever went to on holiday together. Before children we travelled regularly and it’s something that we both really miss now. The ability to book cheap flights and a last minute hotel doesn’t really work when you have two small children, but as the kids are growing up I’m really getting itchy feet and I’m determined to let them see the world as soon as possible.
So, where better to start than our world travels than France? It’s only 2 hours and 15 minutes to Paris by train from London and with budget airlines also offering short cheap flights to airports all over France there’s a huge range of places you can get to easily. I’m plotting where we can go, ensuring fun for the whole family, and here are my top 5 places that I want us to visit.
We just have to start in France’s capital city. Even three year old Little Miss C can recognise the Eiffel Tower from picture books that feature it and I’d just love for her to be able to see it in the flesh. When you think that this was originally built as just a temporary structure it seems to make its landmark status all the more amazing. Add on a river trip on the Seine, popping to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and time for us to sit in a street cafe with a cold glass of white wine (and the iconic Orangina for the kids) watching the world go by.
2. Disneyland Paris
Whether you love or hate Disney you can’t not feel the magic that it brings to the lives of children, both big and small. If you’re in any doubt you just have to read Penny’s post about finding your inner child there and I guarantee you’ll be booking tickets soon.
Whilst I may be trying to bring my two up so that Little Miss C doesn’t fixate too much on Disney Princesses, I know that she already loves Mickey and Minnie Mouse and there are also several Disney films that she loves (both old and new ones) and I just can’t wait to see her face as characters are brought alive in front of her.
My only experience of Brittany is on a school trip years ago (that I mainly remember for feeling very travel sick on a coach) but Mr C spent many a family childhood holiday there and remembers it very fondly.
Mont St-Michel is probably the best known tourist destination, and whilst I’d like to do to see if the souvenir shops on the way up are still as tacky as I remember, I’d also like to take in some of the beaches. Both our kids love the seaside and I know that they’d have a complete ball there. For Mr C and I just the magic medicinal properties of sea air combined with beautiful views are enough to keep us happy.
4. The Mediterranean Coast
On one of our final holidays before children Mr C and I headed off on a cheap flight from Luton to Bordeaux and booked our return flight to come from Nice. We then spent a fantastic ten days travelling between the two by train (complete train geek that I am!) and discovering a lovely part of France – taking in not only Bordeaux and its vineyards and Nice, but also Toulouse (where we spent Bastille Day watching a Manu Chao concert from our hotel room window!), Avignon (where we unwittingly arrived in the middle of their amazing festival) and also Monte Carlo.
There’s no doubt it was an amazing trip, but one bit that stood out that I’d love to explore more was the Mediterranean Coast. Not only was the weather beautiful and the sea glorious and inviting, but there’s just something about the atmosphere there that I think everyone has to experience for themselves. There’s a reason stars flock there for the Cannes Film Festival and the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. I’ll never forget sitting and drinking ice cold beer near part of the Grand Prix route (near the Swimming Pool turn if I remember correctly) and seeing one little boy realising that there was a top of the range Ferrari parked up next to where he was walking. The excitement on his face was priceless. I simply want to give my kids that kind of excitement.
5. Skiing in the Alps
I’ve not been skiing since I was about 16, and it’s something that Mr C and I haven’t done together, yet both of us are keen to get back on the snow. I really hope that by taking the kids whilst they are young they can get to grips with skis at a much younger age than I did. I think there’s also something about skiing as a “thing” that families with older children can do together on holiday that makes it special and a family bonding experience, and I really want that for my kids when they’re older.
So that’s what I want the C family to experience in France, but what about you? Is there somewhere I’m missed off my list, or any hidden gems that you want to share with me?
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Disneyland Paris – https://flic.kr/p/hpyfCw
Brittany France – https://flic.kr/p/4sGcHr
French Alps – https://flic.kr/p/9AjDfF