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Points of Interest

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).

Astronomical Clock

Cathedrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon
70 Rue Saint-Jean
Lyon, France

Located inside the Cathedrale Saint-Jean is an astronomical clock that’s been ticking since the 14th century. One of Europe’s oldest clocks, an interesting feature is the depiction of the sun circling the earth, a major scientific belief of the times that was later disproved. The clock stands 30 meters (90 feet) high and displays the positions of the sun, moon, and the stars over Lyon, all of which gave the clock its name. Above the clock is a tower with several automatons, including mechanical angels, the Virgin Mary, a dove representing the Holy Spirit, and a Swiss Guard. The interesting and ornate astronomical clock seems to reach from the past into the present day, chiming four times daily at noon, and 2, 3, and 4 p.m.

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.

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.

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.

Cours Julien Street Art Tour

Cours Julien District
Marseille, France

Marseille's hilltop neighborhood of Cours Julien is known as a hip district, and art lovers should plan a visit to see the area’s street art. While making a day of popping into Cours Julien’s restaurants, bars, and shops, you’ll be surrounded by buildings painted with various styles of art. Adding to the neighborhood’s festive feeling is the live music on nearly every street corner. The graffiti covers the spectrum, from detailed and realistic to abstract and whimsical. From realistic scenes to slapdash symbols and fun animal images, the colorful art is engaging to the eyes and a glimpse into the creative minds that made it.

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 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.

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.

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.

La Rambla

Barcelona, France

La Rambla, or Les Rambles, which translates to "an intermittent water flow," is a 1.2-kilometer-long (.75-mile-long) tree-lined pedestrian street that is a popular locale for both locals and tourists. The walkway is full of street theater practitioners, cafés, kiosks, flower stalls, and animal stalls. The place offers a variety of activities, interesting goods, and great places to eat, making it a tourist hotspot.

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.

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.

Lyon’s Secret Passages

Vieux-Lyon and the Place de la Croix-Rousse areas
Lyon, France

Hearing of secret passageways brings with it an air of mystery, though Lyon’s traboules were built for very practical purposes. The name of the passageways derives from the Latin trans-ambulare, which means “to pass through,” and the city’s first traboules date to the 4th century, built to provide convenient access to fresh water. The passageways in the Croix-Rousse district were built as meeting places for Lyon’s silk workers, of which there were thousands. Unfortunately, the majority of the traboules are not open to the public but the ones that are offer an experience that feels like walking back in time.

Look for an identifying seal that denotes the publicly accessible passageways, with Croix-Rousse’s traboules noted by arrows accompanied by a lion's head. Start the journey in this district, the city’s 4th, at the underground station Croix-Rousse. Vieux-Lyon passageways are indicated with a bronze shield, with the tourist office at Place Bellecour in the 2nd district a good starting point. The city’s longest traboule runs between 54 Rue Saint-Jean and 27 Rue du Bœuf. One famously picturesque traboule begins at 9 Place Colbert/14 bis montee Saint Sebastion and features a lengthy and historic external staircase.

L’Envol des Pionniers

The Flight of the Pioneers

6 rue Jacqueline Auriol
31400, Toulouse, France

Discover the adventure of French airmail service, at L’Envol des Pionniers. See the workshops where the pioneers built their planes and the historic runway from which they took off. See more than 20 prototypes and models of aircraft capable of meeting each successive challenge. Some of them took off from the historic plane field, on the 1.8 kilometer (1.1 mile) runway that is listed as a historical monument. Up to 80 pilots, 250 mechanics, 53 radios, 250 sailors, and nearly 900 administrative staff federated around the foolish project of Aéropostale, which became the very first aeronautical company in Toulouse. Since then, Toulouse has never stopped designing and building planes.

– Information provided by L’Envol des Pionniers 

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.

Palais Gallien

Gallien Palace

113 rue Docteur Albert Barraud
Bordeaux, France

Want to find the center of Burdigala? For Bordeaux's principal site of Roman remains, tour the Gallien Palace, an amphitheater that dates back to the end of the Roman Empire in the latter half of the 3rd century. The years have not been kind to the "palace," which was torched by Frankish invaders not long after it was constructed. Ignored for many years by the city, by the 16th century it had became the stomping ground for prostitutes and criminals. Only after the French Revolution was it earmarked as a historical site, and left undeveloped.

Today, visitors can pick their way among the ancient arcades and walls, which once held as many as 17,000 spectators. It's worth a visit at any time of day; go at sunset, and the arches are often illuminated attractively. The gateway is in surprisingly good shape, featuring several precise arches that have defied thousands of years in their solidity. A square next to the monument is a good place to sit and ponder the games once held in the former amphitheater, or pop into the building located at the entrance that shows a 3D rendering of the structure’s original layout.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

16 rue du Repos
Paris 75020, France

Père Lachaise Cemetery is named after Père François de la Chaise, the confessor of Louis XIV, and was established in 1804 by Emperor Napoleon. The Père Lachaise Cemetery contains about 30,000 graves and is one of most visited cemeteries in the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. It owes its fame to the graves of highly eminent people who are buried here, most of whom have greatly contributed to enhancing French life for the past 200 years. Besides the graves, the cemetery encompasses Paris' largest park and boasts a varied terrain consisting of rolling hills, thousands of trees, twisting paths, and even streets.

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.

Shakespeare and Company

37 Rue de la Bûcherie
Paris, France

Why is a bookstore listed in the attractions section for Paris? Because this is no ordinary bookstore. With a huge English-language selection, Shakespeare and Company has been a cultural touchstone for British and American authors in Paris for generations. Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, and William Burroughs all stayed here as young writers, and visitors will see other youthful literature students manning the desks or even cooking and cleaning (in return for floor space for their sleeping bags). Proprietor George Whitman, who enjoyed several Quixotic odysseys around the world, named his store after the beloved bookstore owned by American Sylvia Beach. The original Shakespeare and Company was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and James Baldwin. Beach even published James Joyce's Ulysses, banned in Britain and America. When she died, Whitman renamed his bookstore in tribute, bought her collection, and assumed her mantle. Keep an eye out for performances, readings, and other events at this Left Bank institution.

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 Sewers

Les Egouts

93 Quai d'Orsay
Paris, France

It was Jean Valjean's escape in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables that brought the Parisian sewers to a national audience. Beneath the cobbled streets of the French capital is a subterranean counterpart, its tunnels and tributaries mimicking the grand boulevards above. On sewer tours, look out for street signs that show visitors exactly where they are in the city. Eugène Belgrand, an engineer cherry-picked by Baron Haussmann for his knowledge of geology and water engineering, designed the 19th-century system. Previously, Parisians' water supply (and their waste disposal system) was the River Seine. As a result of Belgrand's blueprint, as well as later additions, the entire underground network runs just under 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles). Winter is the best time to visit this occasionally noxious attraction (summer can be decidedly stinky), though don't go after heavy rainstorms, as the water levels rise.

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.

Vélodrome Stadium

Stade Vélodrome

3 boulevard Michelet
Marseille, France

Home to the Olympique de Marseille (OM) football club team, the Stade Vélodrome is a major attraction for sports enthusiasts, from both Marseille and elsewhere. The stadium was originally built in 1937, held its first competition-OM versus Torino-in that same year, and hosted the World Cup Soccer competition in 1938. In addition to football, the stadium has also hosted rugby, ten stages of the Tour de France, world champion track cycling, gymnastics, boxing, and other sports events. Renovations were made to the stadium in 1984 in preparation for the European Football Championship. Today, the stadium can hold up to 60,000 sports fans. A visit here during a home game is a worthy and exhilarating venture.