Provence with Kids: Something for Everyone

by Kate on February 21, 2021

Post image for Provence with Kids: Something for Everyone

Guest post by Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan, who knows her traveling!

When Kate asked me what I thought of Provence with kids, I was thrilled to tell her all I knew. I love traveling, and I love traveling with kids, so I jumped at the chance to tell Kate and her family all the great things to do.

Clichéd as it sounds, for me there is still nothing like France: the food, the culture, the je ne sais quoi - it’s a sensory paradise for all ages. While Paris with kids is great, we really enjoyed going deeper into the country, where the pace is slower and the air slightly more fragranced. Provence in the southeast of France is world-renowned for wines, housewares, and gourmet foods but you wouldn’t know that when you walk down the unassuming streets of any of its villages and see children playing barefoot in the square.

To get to Provence, the closest airport is the Marseille-Provence airport which connects from many parts of France and the rest of Europe. We flew into Nice, which let me tell you, for being the gateway to the glamor capital of the world, is a pretty primitive airport. Make sure to have a couple of Euro in change or you won’t be able to get a cart. Similarly, it’s an awkward bus ride to the car rental terminals (especially with all your gear), and in the summer time, you can expect long waits for everything!

Nonetheless, when the logistics are sorted out and you are well on your way to this country paradise, you can almost smell the herbs in the air. We stayed on the Western side, closer to Avignon in a beautiful chateau of 8 rooms called La Mas De La Rose. Extensive lawns surrounded by wineries and a gorgeous pool may have tempted us never to leave the inn, but it’s a good thing we did because there is so much to see in Provence. Nearby towns are full of Provencal treasures and uniquely French goods that will have you swooning, not to mention the eateries and chocolatiers.

We drove up the hills to Gordes, a famous Provençal village with spectacular views of the region:

Watch out for strollers in this one - the streets are narrow, hilly and cobblestone, so put on your walking shoes and take the baby carrier instead. Les Baux de Provence is another popular town with tourists, dating back to the 10th century where it stood as a fortress from which to observe and protect the country. You have to park your car outside the city gates and walk up the short hill to enter. Again, in the summer time, it takes a while to find parking and get in, so don’t show up just in time for lunch!

Our favorite town was Saint-Rémy de Provence (so much that we went there twice, on the beginning and the end of our trip!). This quaint village is pickled with restaurants and cafes, boutiques and art galleries, and for some reason, was never as full of tourists as the other towns. This is where I did most of my shopping: French art for my son’s room, elegant placemats made of pressed fresh flowers for my mum, a few bags of Provençal lavender for my home, and of course, some olive oils and exquisite artisan chocolates for me.

Provence is not Paris - it’s not the sexy center of European haute couture and does not try to be. Its charm lies in the fact that it has retained its old French country feel and authenticity. On long summer evenings, families dine together, adults enjoying their wine and kids running around the streets, and you experience a sense of camaraderie with people who at that moment, are just content with their lives.

Our favorite story of Provençal hospitality is when we were dining in Eygalières (a town 10 minutes from Saint-Remy) and taking turns to walk our 18 month old up and down the restaurant. We got chatting with three brothers-in-law seated next to us, who by the second course offered to follow our son around for us so we could actually enjoy our meal together. How often does a dad who has the night off from babysitting his own kids volunteer to watch someone else’s? Not very in my experience.

A few tips on getting around the area: French road signs are awful. You will end up doing your head in on endless roundabouts that seem to point to the same names on every exit! Make sure you have a very good map, or a GPS system. Also, the largest supermarket chain in the South of France is called “Casino” so don’t worry, you can take the kids in!

And finally, it’s not America, so don’t expect it to be. Embrace the differences in language, culture and food and teach your kids to do the same. You will come back enriched and inspired. I guarantee it!

Bon voyage, mon amie!

Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan is the founder of Momaboard.com, an online community for parents traveling with young kids.

photo credits: top - Bolshakov; middle - cjewell; bottom - Fabrice Terrasson;

Related Posts with Thumbnails
If you like this article, please subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny L February 21, 2021 at 8:24 am

Wanna go! This place seems ideal for me. Longing to go somewhere- anywhere, but hampered by the kids, this seems to work okay, even if not Paris.

Penny W. February 21, 2021 at 10:30 am

Sounds idyllic, and very grown-up. Do you have a working knowledge of the language? That would certainly help out in places where tourists don’t frequent daily — and thus make your visits more authentic and enjoyable.

I applaud you taking your kids and trying to show them there is life and amusement to be found outside the multiplex, the mall and the X-Box. That may be your greatest challenge, and success. Bonne Chance!

Kate February 21, 2021 at 11:39 am

The language is one of the things that scares me the most! I can’s speak a lick of French except maybe to say Bonjour! I hope we can manage OK without become the “ugly Americans.” Regardless, we’ll fumble our way through it, together. My daughter is already picking up some French from a friend’s au pair (so lucky to have her to talk to!) so that’s something. But, as I see it, a little fear is a good motivator, no?!?

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: