Best family-friendly walks with kids on the Côte d’Azur

One of the nicest things about living on the French Riviera is the amount of walking trails you can discover with your family. There’s plenty of trails that are perfect for all ages throughout the year.

The French Riviera has an incredible amount of history, so you can combine exercise with learning about places, people and the natural environment.

The main challenge I have as a parent is finding in-depth and accurate information in English. Typical information that I find comes in handy for planning:

  • What type of facilities are on or near the trail – are there picnic tables, toilets, water sources, observation points, bird watching huts, cafes or snack kiosks, rental suppliers for sports gear (e.g. at beaches, in the mountains).

 

 

  • Seasonal considerations – which months are the best for each trail. Some tracks are closed in summer due to fire risk, or are difficult to access in winter due to icy/snowy conditions.  Is there shade or is the entire trail in full sun?   Are there strong winds?

 

  • Safety aspects – are there potential dangers on the path such as wild animals or difficult terrain? We have definitely done hiking paths where I’d consider it too treacherous to take young children due to lack of fencing, steep drops or slippery rocks.  In general, the department pathways here are well maintained; coastal paths are closed in bad weather or if there’s rockfalls.  Other things to consider are fire risks in the forest zones in summer, and hunting season where you need to be aware of dates and hunt locations.

 

  • Age appropriateness and accessibility for families – when you have kids of different ages it’s useful to know if a walking trail is more suited to young kids/teens/all ages. A typical question I am asked often is ‘Can you take a baby stroller?’

  • Clear directions about car parking and start/finish point for the routes
  • Hike duration and level of ability needed for each walk – this region has everything from flat town promenades to difficult rock-strewn hinterland tracks. When you have kids you need to know these details.

  • General information and fun facts – I always like to know what art, wildlife or nature highlights you can expect to see in the area, as the kids get more excited if they know they have an opportunity to see a cool sculpture, specific animals or flowers. Also, fun facts about history come in handy such as details about château, fossils, knights, ancient trade routes, shipwrecks, ruins, military fortresses or prehistoric discoveries.

30 of the best child-friendly walking trails on the French Riviera

Generally, we prefer nature trails that have good views, easy walking with a maximum duration of 2 hours and a mix of scenery and points of interest. The last thing you want is to arrive somewhere and have your kids start to complain they’re bored or tired and want to head back to the car with the picnic goodies and day bags.

Since our boys were babies / toddlers, we have completed at least 100 regional walks that include a mix of urban strolls, coastal trails, mountain hikes or nature walks in forests, beside rivers or through gorges. So, we have tried and tested a lot of different options!

I will be writing a Five-Part Series that will showcase 30 of the best family-friendly walks on the French Riviera. In the series I’ll include useful tips and information about walks that are suitable for all types of outings whether you’re looking for a gentle town circuit suited to taking a baby stroller, or a scenic trek covering varying altitude and terrain.

My first post will be published next week so stay tuned!

Hiking and Mountain Biking in the Estérels

Summer is officially here!  As the weather starts heating up, the options for outdoor activities expand as attractions and sightseeing operators open for the season.

However, some of the best family-friendly activities are free and right on our doorstep!

Around 40 minutes’ drive from where I live is the start of the Massif de l’Estérels, a coastal region sculpted by rust red porphyry rock, scrubby vegetation, inland lakes, valleys, pebbly coves with clear water and a vineyard here and there.

esterels

The area roughly falls between Mandelieu in the east and Fréjus in the west and has one of the most scenic driving routes – the Corniche d’Or – as well as many excellent hiking and mountain biking trails.

The Estérels Côte d’Azur website is a great multi-lingual website for finding out more about the various walks (balades & randonnées) and mountain biking (VTT) itineraries you can do, as well as information about the local beaches and coves.

I also find Plages.tv super useful for photos and descriptions of the facilities at beaches in France; simply choose your region, choose the language option and search!

Three family-friendly walks you’ll find on the Estérels Côte d’Azur website include:

  • Cap Dramont with the Île d’Or which is said to have been the inspiration for Hergé’s ‘L’île Noire (The Black Island)‘ in The Adventures of Tin Tin
  • The Sentier Découverte de 25 ponts (Discovery Trail for 25 bridges)
  • L’Étang Aubert

ile

The VTT trail that is easiest for families is the Mal Infernet-Lac de L’écureuil path with low elevation.

Hiking website link:  http://circuits.esterel-cotedazur.com/balades-randonnees

Mountain biking website link:  http://circuits.esterel-cotedazur.com/parcours-vtt/

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