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Kid's Stuff

Actua Karting

Chemin de Fournéa
Saint-Laurent-de-Mure, France

Race around one of the largest go-kart complexes in Europe, and satisfy your need for speed at Actua Karting. There are four tracks with three different kinds of karts available for children, with a minimum height requirement of 1.3 meters (4.2 feet). The Handi Kart allows those with reduced mobility to drive too, as controls are on the steering wheel. Timed sessions are for 10 minutes, with rates for children under age 14 starting at €18 (US$22). Find the venue, which includes a restaurant, bar, and shop, 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of downtown Lyon. Actua Karting is accredited by the French Federation of Automobile Sport.

Airbus Aerospace Company

Rue Franz Joseph Strauss
Blagnac, Toulouse, France

Airbus is the aerospace company formed in 1970 by competing French, British, and German firms in order to match the big US aircraft manufacturers such as Lockheed and Boeing. In recent years, the Blagnac-based consortium has gone head to head with Boeing in the global passenger airliner market, making waves with its Airbus A380, a wide-body, double-decker jet that can carry 850 people. Visitors to the Airbus HQ can take the Jean-Luc Lagardère tour (named after the French engineer and entrepreneur who built a financial empire in aerospace, magazines, and horseracing). Tour the telemetry room, board a 16-meter (52-foot) fuselage section of the A380, see the Airbus training and design centers, plus the assembly line itself. Also on offer is the opportunity to board Concorde Number 1, the first supersonic jet liner to go into service (this model was earmarked as France's Air Force One).

Albert I Garden

Jardin Albert I

2–16 Avenue de Verdun
06000 Nice, France

Situated conveniently among the Old Town, city center, and seaside, Albert 1 Garden is the perfect place to unwind and relax during a long day of sightseeing. A tranquil respite, it features an expansive grassy area, numerous fountains, palm and pine trees, sculptures, and benches that beckon visitors to slow down and smell the roses. Kids will love the adorable carousel that plays happy tunes as it spins giggling children about. Named after a Belgian King, this garden is one of the oldest in Nice.

Aqualand Saint-Cyr-Sur-Mer

Zac des, Pradeaux
83270 Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, France

Less than an hour’s drive east of Marseille, Aqualand in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer is a fun summertime attraction. There are a variety of waterslides for all ages, including Europe’s largest. Other attractions include a wave pool, lazy river, thermal baths, and shallow play areas for little ones. Eateries offer options for dining, and a shop sells souvenirs as well as swimwear.


80 Av. Bernard IV
31600 Muret, France

Just south of Toulouse in Muret, Aqualudia is a waterpark with fun attractions for every member of the family. It has several pools, both indoors and outdoors, including those for experienced swimmers and beginners as well as those who just want to relax. There also are waterslides, thermal baths, hot tubs, and a sauna. A stand sells refreshments.   

Aquitaine Museum

Musée d'Aquitaine

20 Cours Pasteur
Bordeaux, France

Since kids get in for free at Aquitaine Museum, any of the intriguing historical offerings that hit home with them will be more than worth it. Though its first exhibitions in the 1780s were of precious gems, this jewel of a museum now covers archaeology, ethnographic collections from Africa and Oceania, and a comprehensive local history of the city. The exhibits take visitors from Neanderthal times right up to the 20th Century. In the prehistory section, look out for the French neolithic skull showing multiple boreholes—signs of the grisly ancient medical art of trepanning. There is a full-size Roman mosaic and a shipping section with different models of boats that came in and out of Bordeaux, among so much more. Check the museum website for operating hours and info on temporary exhibits.

Banks of the Seine

Berges de Seine

Between the Eiffel Tower and Louvre
Paris, France

Along the left bank of the Seine River in the 7th arrondissement, Berges de Seine (Banks of the Seine) is a pedestrianized promenade and park with a little something for everyone. Aside from the usual games such as mazes, hopscotch, and ping-pong, visitors can ride scooters, conquer the climbing walls, and peer through the free 3D time-scope binoculars, a virtual-reality experience that plugs you into the heart of 17th-century Paris. Car-free areas make it a fun and walkable family experience full of an array of sights and activities.

Block’Out Bordeaux

3 Rue Georges Barres
Bordeaux 33300, France

Children as young as 4 years old can climb at Block’Out Bordeaux, an indoor climbing gym the whole family can enjoy. Climb alone or take part in a class and learn some essential basic skills. The facility, full of climbing rooms named for French cities, also offers a weight room for those who’d like to work out and watch the fun. There is a sauna with included essential oils, hot-steam hammam, and outdoor slacklines—the use of all included in your climbing session. There also is a restaurant on site for your family’s refueling needs. Other climbing gyms in Bordeaux include Climb Up ( and Arkose Bordeaux ( Check company websites for their locations, hours of operation, and pricing.

Bordeaux Canoe

21 Parc d’Activités des Queyries
Bordeaux 33100, France

See Bordeaux from the water and make memories as a family when you canoe or kayak on the city’s river Garonne. A two-hour tour by Bordeaux Canoe is adapted for kids over 10 who plan to canoe or kayak, with tandem canoes another option for parents and children. Tours take place when the tide stops rising or falling, allowing for calm waters that are easy to manage. Along the route are wild islands of the Garonne, a traditional cabane, or shelter, and a whole lot of history as conveyed by the friendly guides. Paddle under bridges and see the city’s historic buildings from a different vantage point.

Bordeaux Natural History Museum

5 Place Bardineau
Bordeaux 33000, France

Parents will be happy to discover the city’s Natural History Museum includes a Toddler Museum specially designed for children 6 years old and under. Kids will love the All Babies exhibit, featuring baby animals and answering simple questions about their lifecycles and behaviors. If that’s not enough of a draw, consider that the specimens inside amount to one of the country’s biggest collections. There’s fossils, shells, mounted skeletons, and insects among the over 4,000 items on display, and an overall focus on environmental awareness. Permanent exhibits include Aquitaine Coastline, Climate Sentinels, Africa Wild Savannah, and Eat Me If You Can, among others. Check the website for information on temporary exhibits, special events, and operating hours.

Bordeaux Pessac Zoological Park

3 Rue du Transvaal
Pessac 33600, France

Children and animals are a natural fit, captivating and amusing each other whether two or four-legged. Among the animals here are red pandas, lemurs, giraffes, tapirs, lions, and tigers. Find natural habitats, an aviary, and lush paths to wander, as well as shows put on by the zookeepers. There also is an inflatable play area, playgrounds, picnic areas, and a small petting zoo with farm animals such as goats looking for treats. Located about 30 minutes from Bordeaux, this zoo offers bus rides from the city center or drive and park for free. Check the website for operating hours and information on special events.

Botanical Gardens of Bordeaux

Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux

Esplanade Linné
Bordeaux 33100, France

Open daily and free to visit, Botanical Gardens of Bordeaux is the city’s public garden offering many alluring sights. The playground gives kids free reign to be themselves, while more than 3,000 plants are a visual treat for all ages. The gardens include a carousel and gallery featuring 11 natural landscapes found in the country’s Aquitaine basin. After strolling the paths beside flower beds and reflecting pools, enjoy a picnic and some frisbee amid the vast natural splendor.

Cap Sciences

Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan
Bordeaux, France

A museum focused on science and discovery, Cap Sciences has something to fascinate all ages. There are permanent exhibits and youth workshops covering chemistry, photography, and robots, among others. Learn about things like molecular cooking, rocket building, or make objects using a 3D printer. Includes audio guides in English, as well as a shop and cafe. A visit to Cap Sciences is a tradition among the city’s schoolchildren, so rest assured that your kids will be engaged and informed. Check the website for information on special events, temporary exhibits, and operating hours.

Castle Hill

Montée du Château
Nice, France

On the famous rocky outcrop between Old Nice and the harbor sits Castle Hill, beloved by locals and visitors alike. While few sections of the old castle have survived, the area is celebrated for its breathtaking panoramic views of the city and sea. Kids can imagine what the castle was like while exploring. There are pine trees, carobs, figs, aloes, a gorgeous waterfall, children's playground, medieval ruins, and more. It was once the site of a military citadel, and there is a naval museum in its Bellanda Tower. Visitors can either brave the laborious climb to the top for free or take an elevator for a nominal fee. Plan on taking lots of photos at this scenic venue and even bring a picnic.

Château Pastre

Avenue de la Madrague Montredon
Marseille 13008, France

Château Pastre is nestled between the Point-Rouge and Rolland caves perched above the city center in the Marseilleveyre hills. Countess Pastre bequeathed this magnificent country home and 120 hectares (297 acres) of wooded park space to the city in the 1800s. The woods have been converted to public gardens and an adventure playground for children. The home hosts an outstanding museum of pottery; its stunning collection documents the technical and artistic development of pottery-making. Admission to this museum and the grounds is free.

City of Science and Industry

20 Avenue Corentin-Cariou
Paris, France

With more than 50 interactive displays spread over five floors of high technology, this attractive site is ideal for families. The museum’s features include computer games based on marine science, space, and sound; a 260-seat planetarium; greenhouse; and La Géode, an IMAX cinema showing movies on nature. It is particularly focused on French engineering, with exhibits such as models of the Ariane space rocket, Mirage jet fighter, and Le Nautile, the yellow manned submarine that has taken oceanographers to depths of 6,000 meters (19,685 feet). Several smart features include a pool around the building, which enables sunlight to reach the lower levels. Check the website for special events and hours of operation.

City Train Tour

12 Cours du 30 Juillet
Bordeaux 33000, France

Sit back and relax on a city train tour that lasts a brief, kid-friendly 45 minutes. Trains leave from the city’s tourist information office every two hours and meander past several of the city’s main historical sights. Among them are the Place de la Bourse and Place des Quinconces, one of Europe’s largest city squares filled with monuments and fountains. The city office provides scripted commentary of the tour’s attractions in eight languages. Visit the website for details, tickets, and hours of operation.

Confluences Museum

Musée des Confluences

86 Quai Perrache
Lyon 69002, France

Located near the picturesque confluence of Lyon's two rivers, this attraction is not only a feat of contemporary architecture but an edifying discovery museum. The building is one of a kind, consisting of a see-through steel-and-glass bubble crowned by a cloud-like structure. The 10 exhibition areas comprise displays on the history of silk and "interactive exhibitions" on cultures of the world. Dinosaur skeletons and a 1,000-year-old Caucasus tomb are among the highlights as well as a giant meteorite that visitors can touch. A Center for Conservation organizes international conferences and educational visits. There is a science center and anthropology museum here as well.

Cooking Class

Various locations throughout Paris, France

You and your kids can have fun and get your hands deep in dough, trying to recreate some of those famous French pastries you’ve no doubt been seeing and enjoying throughout Paris. The city offers several cooking schools that offer classes for children, among them Le Cordon Bleu, Cooking Baz’Art, and Cook’n with Class, which offers a French desserts workshop. So, gather up your budding chefs and plan for creativity and fun, as well as a memorable experience that captures the essence of tasteful Paris.

Disneyland Paris

Boulevard de Parc
Coupvray 77700, France 

Originally known as the Euro Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris officially opened in 1992 and received its present name in 1995. A mere 20 minutes east of Paris this noted theme park is made up of Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. There are thrill rides such as Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean for the adults and big kids, while children have many fun areas and offerings just for them. These include It’s a Small World, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, and rides on the mini train as well as an assortment of spinning rides. There also are horse-drawn streetcars and plenty of places to eat and grab drinks and snacks. Don’t forget a family picture in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Eiffel Tower

Tour Eiffel

Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole
Paris 75007, France

One of the most famous structures in the world, the Eiffel Tower is an iron tower that stands 324 meters (1,063 feet) tall, has 1,665 steps, and weighs 7,300 tons. The tower, named after its builder, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, was constructed for the Paris exposition of 1889 and opened by England's Prince of Wales. Upon completion, the Eiffel Tower replaced the Washington Monument as the tallest structure in the world. Visitors to the tower can reach the summit but require the use of elevators beyond the second floor. In windy conditions, the tower sways between 6 to 7 centimeters. 

Flower Tree

Place Antonin Poncet, Bellecour quarter
Lyon, France

What makes the Flower Tree odd is the colorful and modern style of it, standing in contrast to most of the city’s historic architecture, art, and sculpture. And that’s probably why it remains, despite being made in 2003 for the Lyon Contemporary Art Biennial. Standing 6 meters (about 20 feet) tall, the tree has 85 flowers, each about the size of a car door. Korean artist Jeong Hwa Choi’s massive circular bouquet sits atop a tree trunk, with sunflowers, daisies, roses, pansies, morning glories, and many other blooms providing a pretty and detailed array. It clearly proved too pretty to remove after the art festival and the Flower Tree found a permanent home at the Place Antonin Poncet, where you’ll find it on the east side of the square. Its pop of vibrant color will draw you in, especially on grey days.

France Aventures Lyon Fourvière

3 Place of the 158th Infantry Regiment
Lyon, France

Children as young as 2 can get comfortable traversing the treetops at this venue. Bring your adventurous family members to try the seven different ropes courses offered at France Aventures Lyon Fourvière. There is a free course for ages 2 and 3, with a 1-meter (3.2-foot) height requirement. Courses are categorized by age and skill level. The Closer to the Sun course is the most difficult, for ages 10 and up. Test your balance on suspended bridges, nets, and other rope features, or try the interactive orienteering course. Reservations are recommended and minor children need an adult with them either in the trees or on the ground. Special events and group options are available.

France Miniature

Boulevard Andre Malraux Off of N12 Élancourt
Paris, France

France Miniature is a popular tourist attraction that showcases miniatures of important French landmarks and monuments. This outdoor park, which is in the shape of the country, covers 5 hectares (12 acres) of land and contains about 160 models of major French monuments and landmarks, each made to a scale of 1/30. Most miniature models are animated, and a network of model trains covers the entire area. Two lagoons at the perimeter of the park act as the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, complete with animated boats.

Garden of the Plants

Jardin des Plantes

57 Rue Cuvier
Paris 75005, France

Families may have a difficult time deciding where to start when they visit Paris’ botanical garden, one of the world’s most notable. There is a zoo, galleries—including a children’s gallery—and libraries as well as food kiosks and a carousel. Founded in 1626 as a royal garden of medicinal plants, it first opened to the public in 1650. Garden of the Plants encompasses 28 hectares (68 acres), on which are situated six greenhouses, home to around 23,500 species of plants. The garden features cacti, grasses, bromeliads, orchids, ferns, aroids, Australian flora, alpine plants, and more. The zoo houses approximately 600 animals including orangutans, red pandas, snow leopards, Arabian oryx, tree kangaroos, and many more. See the website for information on special events, temporary exhibits, and operating hours.

Garonne River

Various locations throughout Bordeaux, France

Scenic boat cruises along the city’s river Garonne offer a relaxing way to see several major city sights. Included is the distinct Cité du Vin wine museum, with its contemporary style said to mimic the movement of wine in a glass. You’ll also see riverside landmarks like the Basilica of St. Michael and Louis XV's grand Place de la Bourse. Cruises are short enough for kids to get through, 90–120 minutes, with some companies offering lunch or dinner tours. Consider one of these leisurely cruises when you’ve just arrived and jet lag has the whole family in slow mode, or as a way to recall all the great memories you’ve made before leaving the city.

Henri Malartre's Museum of Automobiles

Chateau de Rochetaillee, 645 Rue de Musee Rochetaillee-sur-Saone
Lyon, France

This collection of 120 vintage cars inside a converted château isn't your typical Lyonnais museum, but is one that will stay in the memory. The romantic bank of the River Saone might seem an unlikely location for Hitler's Mercedes, but it is here, along with a Renault Espace that belonged to Pope Jean-Paul II. Bizarre forerunners to the modern car are on show here, including steam-driven "horseless carriages" dating from the turn of the 20th century. Motorcycling enthusiasts will enjoy the 50 or so bikes of varying ages on display. Traditional Lyonnais modes of transport such as trams and the first underground trains are also on view.

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

From Fourvière to the Confluences
Lyon, France

A Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour is a great way to see Lyon and decide where you and the rest of the family would like to stop and explore. The double-decker buses cover the city from Fourvière to the Confluences. There are stops at 14 city attractions, including museums, parks, and historical monuments. Among them are Place Bellecour, Terreaux public square, and Place des Jacobins. See Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Commentary is offered in nine languages and is a great way to learn about Lyon’s history and culture. The bus pass is valid for the entire day, too. The Blue Line has seven stops and five points of interest while the Green Line offers 12 stops and seven points of interest. Buses run on Saturdays and Sundays, with boarding at any of the stops.

Jardin d’Acclimation

Bois de Boulogne, Route de la Porte Dauphine à la Porte des Sablons
Paris 75116, France

Rotating swings, roller coasters, kiddie rides, and more await families at this long-running Paris amusement park. There is something for every age, including the Little Carousel, the wading pool, and mechanical mice for the smallest fun-seekers. Take a leisurely tour along the Enchanted River before amping up the excitement on a rafting adventure. Includes a little farm with gentle farm animals to pet and feed and garden workshops. Restaurants and kiosks serve full meals to traditional carnival snacks such as ice cream and cotton candy, sure to put a sweet finishing touch on a fun family day.

Jardin Rosa Mir

87 Grande Rue de la Croix-Rousse
Lyon 69004, France

There’s no doubt a visit to this garden will leave a lasting impression, both for its engaging visuals and the story behind it, which elevates Jardin Rosa Mir to a special status. The multi-level garden was built by one man, Spaniard Jules Senis, who vowed to create a garden if he was released from the hospital while suffering from throat cancer. The garden’s existence marks Senis’ survival, and the name was chosen to honor his mother, who he left behind in Spain when he fled the country during the Spanish Civil War. Rough stones large and small cover nearly every surface of the maze-like, 360-square-meter (3,875-square-foot) garden, which includes ornamental details including mosaics, pillars, a fountain, sea shells, and sea creatures. Senis spent 25 years creating the space, which is a captivating refuge in a fast-paced world, and includes abundant flora including lemon trees and roses. Those familiar with the surreal and imaginative style of Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi, will recognize his creative influence here. Garden tours are offered from April through October at 2 and 5:30 p.m.

Kid’s City

590 Boulevard du Mercantour Forum
Lingostiere, Nice

Parents know that not much beats the opportunity to let children have unstructured playtime, and at Kid’s City—just 15 minutes from central Nice—there is much to engage them. An indoor amusement park designed for children up to age 12, it should be on the list of things to do while in Nice. Children can bounce and zoom down inflatable slides and play in ball pools and along adventure courses. There also is a trampoline, zipline, tunnels, mazes, giant building blocks, mini rides, arcade games, and more. A snack bar serves a variety of kids’ treats and drinks. An air-conditioned venue, Kid’s City is a good place any time of year and a nice rainy-day destination. Check the website for hours and the snack bar menu.

K’ptain Park

185 Av. De Fronton
31200 Toulouse, France

Lots of fun is waiting at Toulouse’s K’ptain Park, the city’s only pirate-themed attraction for kids. It offers a variety of indoor games and activities aimed at children up to age 14. The park includes a huge three-level labyrinth, toboggan run, foam pit, slides, ninja-style obstacles, electric motorcycles, trampolines, and double zipline. In addition, there is a play area for little ones with a ball pit and foam slides. A snack bar serves refreshments.    

Lake Beach

Plage du Lac

Boulevard Jacques Chaban Delmas
Bruges 33520, France

Summer visitors to Bordeaux should plan a day trip 20 minutes from the city to reach what’s arguably a favorite destination of kids—the beach! Clean sand, clear water, and shady areas will please the whole family. Easily accessible by a tram that departs from central Bordeaux, Lake Beach includes a supervised recreational area with activities such as sailing, kayaking, and miniature golf. After swimming and sunning, head to the nearby town of Bordeaux Lac, for snacks, shopping, or to spend the night at a hotel and plan to do it all again the next day.

Le Petit Train de Nice

Promenade des Anglais, devant le Théâtre de verdure
06000 Nice, France

A miniature electric train, Le Petit Train de Nice provides an easy way to tour Nice, and the kids are sure to enjoy it too. Starting from Place Massena with its expansive water feature, board the little train for a 45-minute tour through Nice’s popular spots such as some of Old Nice and a lovely stretch along the famous seaside Promenade des Anglais. You’ll have a 10-minute stop at Castle Hill Park, which offers spectacular views of the coast and city. The train runs seven days a week throughout the day. Ages 4 and under ride for free.

Louvre Museum

On Rue de Rivoli, North of the Seine River
75001 Paris, France

There is so much to see at this world-class museum that a day wouldn’t be enough, so how about get a family tour and take in the highlights? Your older tweens and teens who know a little about art history can appreciate the many landmark pieces in the Louvre, like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory. Tours are offered by several companies and usually range between two and three hours, some focused around specific themes. See the royal jewels, frescoes, and famous works by French and Italian artists at the museum you’d hate to say you skipped. Morning tours help avoid the large crowds for which the Louvre is known.

Luxembourg Gardens

Jardin du Luxembourg

15 Rue de Vaugirard, between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Latin Quarter
Paris 75006, France

A spacious 23-hectare (57-acre) green space, Luxembourg Gardens holds many delights within, sure to provide hours of relaxing entertainment for every member of the family. Kids will enjoy the swings, merry-go-round, pony rides, and sailboat rentals, while outdoor sports courts will engage the more athletic types. Bring a ball to toss! Take a stroll to marvel at the assortment of trees, lawns, flower beds, greenhouses, and fruit gardens or consider doing the garden’s treasure hunt. Guided tours and kid’s puppet shows are offered; check the website for more information.

Lyon Aquarium

Aquarium de Lyon

7 Rue Stéphane Dechant 6 place du Général Leclerc La Mulatière
Lyon, France

Located just south of Perrache, the Grand Aquarium is a fun-packed theme park with an educational edge. You can touch, look at, learn about, and even swim with several species of sea life, including dolphins. Around 5,000 animals reside in more than 40 tanks divided into different sectors simulating various aquatic environments. The largest aquarium has 23 inch-thick glass walls and is home to several species of rays and an artificial shipwreck that has been deliberately rusted for authenticity. Those not suffering from faint-heartedness will definitely enjoy the shark pit. The 2-meter-long (6.6-foot-long) catfish must be the "prize catch" in the Grand Aquarium.

Magic Park Land

Autoroute A55 Fos/Martigues
13820 Ensuès-la-Redonne, France

About a 30-minute drive northwest from Marseille, Magic Park Land is a popular amusement park with more than 40 attractions for families. Rides include a Ferris wheel, train, rotating swings, log flume, toboggan run, bumper boats, and more. In addition, there are a variety of inflatable bounce houses for little ones to explore. Visitors can win prizes playing midway games, and there’s also a video arcade. Along with rides and games, the park also hosts community events, birthday parties, and live shows such as clowns, motocross, and puppets. Shops and food vendors provide options for shopping and dining.  

Mercantour National Park

Parc National du Mercantour

North of Nice, Southeastern France

The Parc National du Mercantour was created in 1979 and is one of France's major national parks. About 800,000 tourists visit the place every year. The park covers around 68,500 hectares (169,267 acres) and includes seven beautiful valleys, Roya, Bévéra, Vésubie, Tinée, Haut Var/Cians, Verdon, and Ubaye. Surrounding the park are several beautiful villages that showcase some of the finest of French architecture. The park is home to about 2,000 species of plants and hundreds of animal species. The park is home to the famous Vallée des Merveilles (Valley of Marvels) and, at the foot of Mont Bégo, contains thousands of prehistoric Bronze Age art drawings and engravings.

Movies & Miniature Museum

Musée Miniature et Cinéma

60 Rue Saint-Jean
Lyon, France

There is much for children to like about this museum focused on movie special effects and miniaturization. Visitors can see models, props, and costumes from movies like GremlinsStar Wars, Mars Attack!, and Alien, to name a few. They will learn about the skills and talents of costume designers, set builders, prosthetic and make-up artists, special effects modelers, and animatronic technicians. More than 100 boxed miniature scenes feature incredibly realistic depictions of restaurants, theaters, shops, and more. Both the cinema and miniature collections include a photo gallery. Temporary exhibits are a regular feature that keeps the museum an engaging attraction.

Mural of Lyonnais

La Fresque des Lyonnais

49 Quai Saint Vincent and 2 Rue de la Martinière
Lyon, France

Enjoy this public art mural that also is something of a history lesson. Located at the Quai Saint Vincent, the 800-square-meter (8,611-square-foot) mural features 30 famous people from Lyon. The paintings wrap around a yellow building and were intended as a revitalization project for the busy intersection in this central Lyon district. Several figures appear to be standing on the building’s balconies though it is all just a creative artist rendering. The Mural of Lyonnais was painted by the artist cooperative, CitéCréation, which did a similar mural in Barcelona that depicted famous painters. The figures depicted in Lyon helped shape the city’s history and the world’s, from ancient Rome to the modern era. See Joseph-Marie Jacquard, famous for his invention of the Jacquard loom, which automated the silk weaving process and revolutionized production, and Antoine de St-Exupéry, aviator, writer, and philosopher who is pictured with his creation, The Little Prince. There’s also Claude Bourgelat, founder of the first veterinary school, Auguste and Louis Lumière, who invented the first motion-picture camera, and renowned chef and restauranteur, Paul Bocuse, who is a big part of the reason Lyon is known as the world’s capital of gastronomy.

Murals of Lyon

Throughout Lyon, France

There are more than 150 murals gracing the sides of buildings in Lyon, and happening upon them makes one pause and take a second look. You eyes may initially deceive you, though upon closer inspection you’ll realize those aren’t real people sitting on stairs or actual books on shelves, but artistically rendered depictions of them. Though one particular city mural gets the most attention, La Fresque des Lyonnais (Mural of Lyonnais), with its historical and contemporary figures who hail from the city, so many more murals deserve an appreciative look as well. A student art group called CitéCréation began painting the murals on Lyon’s buildings in the early 1970s and today, the creative effort has put the city on the map for the quality of this “street art.” Among notable murals are: Le Mur des Canuts on rue Denfert Rochereau; La Bibliotheque de la Cite at 6 rue de la Platière; Parcours des Roses, in several spots including Lyon Metropole and Champagne-au-Mont d’or; Fresque Bourse du Travail at 5 Place Guichard, and Voyage dans la ville at 98 avenue Lacassagne. One mural, Fresque Lumière at avenue Jean-Jaurès, has a futuristic theme and includes strategic lighting. Plan to seek out the well-known works, or take a day to stroll the city if you want to be pleasantly surprised.


Musée du Chocolat de Lyon

Visitors of Musée du Chocolat de Lyon, also known as MUSCO, enjoy a gourmet sensory experience featuring chocolate, from its cocoa origins as a bean to its ultimate and delectable transformation into a chocolate bar. The museum’s exhibits combine history, geography, and treasures brought back from cocoa-growing countries. Part of the Sève chocolate factory, the chocolate museum offers classes inside its on-site kitchen. Visitors will see chocolate makers and machines in action, with guided tours an option. Stop by the shop to get chocolate bars, truffles, cakes, macaroons, and more. Find the museum 25 minutes north of Lyon in Limonest.

—Information provided by MUSCO, Musée du Chocolat de Lyon

Oceanography Museum

Musée Océanographique

Avenue Saint-Martin
98000 Monaco

Monaco's Oceanography Museum, located 30 minutes from Nice on Le Rocher overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, has a reputation for excellence in the fields of marine science and oceanography. It features a world-renowned aquarium boasting some of the rarest species of fish and marine life known to humankind as well as other fascinating creatures of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Don't miss the shark lagoon or exhibit on fluorescent corals. Famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau once headed this museum, and Monaco's pioneering Prince Albert I, known as the "Navigator Prince," gathered many of the marine fauna featured here. The museum is open every day except during the Formula One Grand Prix. Though the entry fee may seem steep, the consensus from visitors is that the cost is worth it.

Old Lyon

Vieux Lyon

At the foot of Fourvière Hill
West side of Lyon, France

With its cobblestoned streets and hidden passageways, Old Lyon is fun to explore with kids. Mainly a pedestrian zone, the area is one of the largest Renaissance quarters in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Have lunch at one of the many cafés before stopping by the famous Terre adélice glacerie (ice cream shop) for handcrafted ice cream and sorbet. The Musée Miniature et Cinéma (Movies & Miniature Museum) is located in Old Lyon as well. If you have little children who need to expend some energy, there is a playground next to Cathedral Saint-Jean.

Old Nice

Vieux Ville

From Promenade of Paillon in the north to Promenade des Anglais in the south
Just below Castle Hill, Nice, France

When you and the kids have already enjoyed the beach and that stunning Mediterranean view, venture into the city’s Old Town area to get a feel for historic Nice. There are narrow streets, pedestrian-only areas, fountains, and colorful old buildings. Many have dates marked above the doorways, which makes for a fun challenge for kids when you ask them to search for the oldest one. A look up will reveal decorative details including faces carved into the walls. A produce market in Cours Saleya offers plenty of easy-to-grab edibles for your journey, or just plan to stop at a restaurant or for ice cream or French pastries from a boulangerie (bakery). There also is a range of shops and galleries to check out and search for a memorable souvenir by which to remember your time in Nice.

Phoenix Park

Parc Phoenix

405 Promenade des Anglais
06200 Nice, France

There is much to see and admire at Phoenix Park that will appeal to both plant and animal lovers as well as kids and adults. Situated close to the airport, it features the largest glass greenhouse of its kind in Europe at 7,000 square meters (75,000 square feet). Within this large pyramid are extensive displays of plants and flowers, including an array of tropical palms from throughout the world. The park also features an artificial lake, home to several species of waterfowl and turtles, while within the reptile house are crocodiles, iguanas, and boa constrictors. An insect house showcases a variety of creepy crawlies and even a pool where the fish let you pet their bellies. Tell the kids to keep an eye out for lemurs, otters, wallabies, and little marmoset monkeys too. In addition, visit the park’s farm to see dwarf animals like goats, pigs, rabbits, and the miniature Falabella horse. Phoenix Park also is home to the Asian Art Museum.

Place de la Bourse

Bordeaux, France

Those in search of the ultimate picture-postcard image of Bordeaux, should visit Place de la Bourse where the architecture, statues, and fountains provide a beautiful backdrop for family photos. With its striking half-circle of neoclassical buildings beside the Garonne River, this stock exchange-turned-convention center is the quintessential vision of the Atlantic port at the height of its 18th-century prosperity. The Miroir d’Eau (Water Mirror) or Miroir des Quais (Quay Mirror) in front of the buildings is the world’s largest reflecting pool, covering 3,450 square meters (37,136 square feet) and made of granite slabs covered by a thin layer of water. Let the kids get their feet wet or swing by at night for the memorable sight of reflecting lights. 

Pompidou Center

Centre Pompidou

Place Georges-Pompidou, Le Marais
Paris 75004, France

Many claim the Le Marais neighborhood, where the Pompidou Center is located, is among Paris’ best areas for kids. Not only does this complex of buildings include galleries just for kids, there’s also programs aimed at teens. The Galerie des Enfants is great for children 10 and under, while exhibits covering visual arts like photography, drawing, and film will engage all ages. The area outside the center has much to offer as well, with pedestrian areas where kids can roam, to outdoor green spaces for picnics and relaxing. Fountains, street performers, and cafes surround the center and add to the array of enjoyable options. Check the center’s website for information on special events, teen programs, and temporary exhibits as well as operating hours.

Promenade des Anglais

49 Quai des Etats-Unis
Nice, France

Enjoy a family stroll along Nice’s famous Promenade des Anglais, a 7-kilometer-long (4-mile-long) stretch along the city’s waterfront. The promenade is such a distinctive stretch of seashore not only in Nice but in all of France that the city has submitted the Promenade des Anglais as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status. Rent bikes, skates, scooters, or skateboards at the Roller Station (, located on the Quai des Etats Unis along the promenade. There is a designated lane for bikes and wheeled vehicles, so get the whole family on board with some easy and fun exercise. Other activities include people watching, admiring sculptures, and identifying landmarks such as Hotel Negresco and Palais de la Méditerranée that dates to 1929.

Promenade du Paillon

Plassa Carlou Aubert, Nice

Located in the heart of the city is Promenade du Paillon, a 12-hectare (29-acre) park kids will love for all the fun features within. A fenced-in playground with artificial grass features a giant whale to climb, octopus swings, and treehouse. Bring refreshments and plan for a relaxing break as you watch the kids have fun with some unstructured playtime. There is an area lined with olive trees, just some of the more than 1,000 trees and 50,000 plants, with paved walkways and benches throughout. Also within the promenade, which begins in Place Massena, is the Miroir d'Eau (Mirror of Water), a 3,000-square-meter (32,292-square-foot) section that contains 128 water jets. These variously puff out a cool mist or shoot jets of water high into the air, and their unpredictability makes for refreshing fun as kids play among them. Public restrooms and a tourist information desk are available.

Ruhl Beach

Ruhl Plage

1 Promenade des Anglais
Nice, France

Though the idea of a perfect beach doesn’t generally include private cabins with hot showers and waiter service, Ruhl Beach offers all this and more. Yes, there is a fee to hang out at this private beach, but parents should find some peace of mind in letting children roam the secure area. Situated along the Mediterranean and in the heart of the city, Ruhl Beach is the place for a full day of swimming, sunning, and playing on shore. Relax on cushioned chaise lounges under umbrellas while waiters deliver refreshing drinks to accompany your view. There also is a swimming pool, public restrooms, and restaurant serving a wide selection of food and drinks. Visit the website for hours and fees to rent things such as mattresses and beach towels as well as for the restaurant menu.

Terra Amata Museum of Prehistory

Musée de Préhistorie de Terra Amata

25 Boulevard Carnot
06000 Nice, France

The city’s Terra Amata Museum of Prehistory offers a peek into the ancient past with stories and reconstructions that will captivate the entire family. The museum is built on top of a prehistoric slab of pebbled sand where ancient hunters once camped some 400,000 years ago. The museum features a reconstruction of this Acheulean occupation site, complete with plaster casts of the prehistoric dwellers, and offers a glimpse into what life was like for the first inhabitants of the region. While only footprints were left behind in this paleontological site, the museum has reconstructed the tools, homes, and other features of prehistoric life in Nice. The museum is closed on Mondays and some holidays but is otherwise open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Tête d'Or Park

Golden Head Park

Boulevard des Belges
Lyon, France

A wealth of outdoor fun—from the blissfully relaxed to the thrillingly energetic—can be had at the 117-hectare (298-acre) Tête d'Or Park (Golden Head Park). Its botanical gardens and sumptuous lawns date back to the mid-19th century on a site local legend holds to be the burial place of Jesus Christ's head. Later additions such as an alpine garden; zoo housing giraffes, tigers, and elephants; and rose garden spell fun for kids and adults alike. If the weather permits and you're feeling more active, you can play mini golf, ride ponies, take a spin on the fairground-style rides, and go sailing on the river. An alfresco puppet show is an occasional highlight.

The Counter of Cats

Le Comptoir des Chats

8 Rue Pierre de Coubertin
Bordeaux, France

Enjoy a quality lunch among some cuties … kitties, that is! The city’s only cat café at the time of this writing, strolling past the window will tip you off, as the cats can be seen hanging out, some in baskets and others on pillows. The casual interior offers chairs and couches, with plenty of room for the cats, many who perch on stools and wall shelves. An outdoor terrace is another option for lounging with the furry felines. So, stop for a break and enjoy some quiche and salad or coffee and dessert, tastes of the good life with cats whose relaxed and friendly demeanor is another way of expressing joie de vivre (enjoyment of life).

The Quai

Between Gare Saint Jean and Bassins à Flot
North Bordeaux, France

Along the left bank of the Garonne River is a pedestrian-only dock, or quai, that invites strolling, biking, or skating on sunny days in Bordeaux. The 4.5-kilometer-long (2.8-mile-long) quai provides river views on one side and the city’s distinct architecture on the other. It’s common to see families out riding the strip on bikes—which a city bike program makes affordable to rent—as well as people on scooters and skateboards. Come with the family to start the day with a little exercise, people watch, and plan the next Bordeaux destination to explore.

The Seine

Various locations throughout Paris, France

A boat cruise on the Seine is a good option after first arriving in Paris, when jet lag may be slowing the family down. Many companies offer boat cruises on the city’s river Seine, a good way to relax and see some of the city’s major sights including the Eiffel Tower. Guides offer informative commentary in several languages, and some tour operators offer rides with lunch or dinner included to those centered around special events. The city also offers a hop-on, hop-off boat transit system called the Batobus, with eight stops including one near Notre Dame, for families who prefer the option to explore without schedules.

The Space Experience

Parc de la Plaine Avenue Jean Gonord
Toulouse, France

At La Cité de l'Espace, kids can learn how rockets are sent into space, how astronauts work, and how to calibrate an orbit for lunar equipment. Since 1997, when the deputy mayor of Toulouse opened this scientific center, the southwestern town has become a magnet for families with space-obsessed children. More than 4 million visitors have toured the Planetarium, with its 360-degree screen and astronomic simulator, six-story IMAX theater, and range of scale models outside. Scrunch up inside a replica of the Russian Mir space station and see how you would have managed as a cosmonaut. Crane your neck upwards at the Ariane 5 rocket, towering more than 50 meters above the ground. Or wander around the Terradome and learn what's happened in our solar world since the Big Bang.

Tony Bertrand Nautical Center

8 quai Claude Bernard
Lyon, France

Summers get hot and kids get cranky, so let everyone cool off with a visit to Tony Bertrand Nautical Center. The public pool has two Olympic-size pools, one for casually hanging out in the refreshing water and the other for serious swimmers who want to get their laps in. Parents will appreciate the large, gated-off area for babies and kids. The pools get busy so it’s recommended to arrive early before lines form.

Toulouse Natural History Museum

35 Allées Jules Guesde
Toulouse, France

Situated beside the Jardin des Plantes botanical garden, this capacious natural history museum (closed on Mondays) has a collection numbering 2.5 million pieces. Though the collection has been augmented over more than a century, the museum itself has been closed for parts of the last two decades for renovation. Explore thousands of years of history, from prehistoric plant specimens to today's largest land mammal on earth. The museum is renowned for its ornithological collection, 4,500 pieces of which were gifted to Toulouse by collector Victor Besaucèle-look out for the skeleton of Quetzalcoatlus, a pterodactyl-style dinosaur whose 12-meter (19-ft) wingspan dwarfs the visitors in the entrance hall. The Toulouse museum's paleontological exhibits are one of its strengths, although the greenhouses in the botanical gardens are also impressive, with sections on cacti, stone plants, and carnivorous species.

Train of Wonders

Train des Merveilles

Gare de Nice-Ville Station
06000 Nice, France

Take a rest from trekking throughout Nice and climb aboard the Train des Merveilles (Train of Wonders). The two-hour ride takes passengers from Nice to the village of Tende, located near the Italian border. Relax while passing through a mountain landscape featuring gorges, bridges, valleys, and about a dozen hilltop villages. The scenery is stunning, and the 81 tunnels along the route cut through the Alps, with their construction a feat of engineering sure to impress. There are four stops along the way in Sospel, Breil-sur-Roya, St-Dalmas-de-Tende, and Tende with commentary on notable places provided in English and French. Upon arrival in Tende, explore the quiet village’s old streets and cafés. There also is Musée des Merveilles, which includes stone age tools and prehistoric rock paintings. Train of Wonders operates daily from June to September, leaving Nice each day at 9:17 a.m., and weekend trips are offered in both May and October.

Tuileries Garden

Jardin des Tuileries

Place de la Concorde
Paris 75001, France

Bring a picnic and plan for a family day while people watching at this famous Paris attraction. Located between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde along the Seine is this historic garden. From a kid’s point of view, the garden has lots to offer, from a carousel and playground with a jungle gym, to two ponds for feeding the ducks and floating the little boats found at the Grand Basin. There also are trampolines to bounce on—a great way for kids to expel some of that energy they held in at the city’s stellar museums. Look for the goats who roam around the grounds too. Plenty of restaurants and cafes are nearby to provide a tasty treat.

Vaporetto Boat Ride

Between Place Bellecour and Confluences
Lyon, France

See Lyon’s sights from the water on a relaxing and scenic vaporetto boat cruise. The 30-minute cruises are a kid-friendly length, and the four stops give you the option to use the boat as transport to reach Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon), Saint-Paul, Place Bellecour, and the Confluence districts. The vaporetto runs every day, with the exception of May 1 and December 25, from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Departures are once every 80 minutes. Find the Confluence stop at 14 quai Antoine Riboud, Bellecour stop at 11 quai des Célestins, Saint-Paul stop at 1862 quai de Bondy, and Vaise stop at 9 quai Arloing. Tickets are purchased once you’re on board.

Wakoo Park

38 Rue du Clos Verger
Vénissieux, France

There are several fun features at Wakoo Park, located 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) southeast of Lyon’s city center. Kids will find bouncy castles, pedal go-karts, a ropes course, and zipline, among other offerings. Play hide and seek or time your kids to get through the labyrinth. A shaded area of the park especially for ages 5 and under features a trampoline, inflatable structure, giant water mattress, playhouse, swings, tunnels, and more. There is a small educational garden, and the park offers deck chairs as well as treats and drinks served from a chalet.