Toussaint school holidays: 8 things to do with kids on the French Riviera

October school holidays run from today until Sunday 4 November on the Côte d’Azur and it’s a time to sample some of the autumn activities in the region.

There are lots of school holiday options for kids that aren’t attending the centre de loisirs/centre aérés or booked on stages for holidays – I’ve written this post to highlight some of the free or low-cost activities for families with kids of all ages on the French Riviera.   Have a safe and enjoyable Toussaint vacances!

Saturday 20 October and Sunday 21 October

JUAN LES PINS:  The 4th edition of Village des Sciences et de l’Innovation is being held all weekend at the Palais des Congrès in Juan les Pins.  The event has more than 60 stands with games, educational activities and demonstrations.  If your children are interested in robots, tech, planets and science this is the place to go!  Entry is free of charge all weekend.  Opening hours are 1pm-7pm on Saturday, and 10am-6pm on Sunday.  See the programme here:  Village des Sciences et de l’Innovation 2018 Juan les Pins

fete de science juan les pins

Village des Sciences and de l’Innovation 2018 (image: AntibesJuanlesPins tourist office)

MOUANS-SARTOUX:  The RE-PLAY festival is being held at Gymnase René Friard in Mouans Sartoux and is a great option if your kids are into video gaming, cosplay or computers with retro games on display, competitions and workshops.  Entry is free for children under 10 years of age (limit of 2 kids per family), all others entry is €5.  The festival is open from 10am to 7pm all weekend.

replay festival mouans sartoux

RE-PLAY Festival 2018 in Mouans-Sartoux (image: L’agenda Geek)

Wednesday 24 October

CAGNES-SUR-MER:  Perfect for small children around 3-4 years of age, ‘Le grenier magique de Lili’ is a theatre show of 50 minutes duration with songs and magic.  It will be held at the Centre Culturel, 28 avenue de Verdun in Cagnes-sur-Mer at 3pm. Tickets cost €5 each and can be pre-purchased from the Tourism Office on boulevard Maréchal Juin.

Saturday 27 October and Sunday 28 October

FRÉJUS :  The Festival International de l’Air is a kite festival and is a great place to go where kids can watch over 100 kites in flight, as well as join in on free workshops.  The festival is hosted at Base Nature François Léotard (1196 Boulevard de la Mer, 83600 Fréjus) with free parking there.  Entry to the festival is free of charge, and opening hours are 10am-6pm on Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sunday.

Festival International de l’Air 2018 is a kite festival in Fréjus – video below is by ‘Là-bas, vu d’ici’.

Until 28 October

NICE:  The 3rd edition of Quinzaine des Théâtres is presenting a number of musicals, comedies, dances and recitals that coincide with Toussaint school holidays.  As well as a diverse programme, it gives local residents the chance to discover 21 theatres and venues in and near Nice.  Some of the family-friendly shows on offer include:

  • Beauty and the Beast (suitable for kids 7 years and upwards, duration 1 hour, cost €6) and Même pas peur! (for kids 5 years and upwards, duration 1 hour, cost €6) at the Théâtre Bellecour
  • La Fôret Magique, a show with magic and songs (suitable for kids 5 years and up, duration 50 mins, cost €5-7) at Théâte de la Cité
  • Les Contes du Maneki-Neko is a show based on traditional Japanese stories (suitable for kids 6 years and up, duration 50 mins, cost €6) at Théâtre de la Semeuse.

The full programme for Quinzaine des Théâtres 2018 is here:  Programme Quinzaine des Théâtres 2018

quinzaine des theatres

Les Contes du Maneki-Neko is just one of a diverse range of shows as part of Quinzaine des Théâtres 2018 (image: Culturo)

Tuesday 30 October and Wednesday 31 October

NICE:  Espace Magnan is hosting the Fête du Cinéma d’Animation over 2 days with films suitable for children 3 years upwards.  Most films for younger ages average around 45 minutes duration, while films for older kids are around 1 hour -1.5 hours in length.  Tickets cost €6 – €7 each depending on sessions and can be pre-purchased via Espace Magnan’s website.  You can see the festival programme here:  Fête du Cinéma d’Animation 2018 programme

Halloween on the French Riviera

Halloween, recognised on 31st October, hasn’t always been traditionally observed in France but it is very popular now.  Schools host Halloween parties and local towns are getting more ‘into the spirit (pun intended)’ by giving out bon bons to children and putting up decorations.

As Halloween falls during Toussaint school holidays, there are plenty of activities happening.  The following day Toussaint (All Saints Day) is a bank holiday and a day where lives of deceased relatives are remembered.

Halloween costumes & decorations : French Riviera

There are many stores on the French Riviera that sell ready-made Halloween costumes and accessories, or for DIY inspiration you can look on Pinterest or Good Housekeeping that have loads of fun and inexpensive ideas.

If you’re looking for Halloween costumes for kids, spooky decorations and party items, the best places to go on the French Riviera are :

  • The €1 and €2 stores – Maxi Bazaar, Maximart and Destock – which always stock things such as tridents, plastic cauldrons and skeletons, and trick-or-treat buckets.
  • La Foir’Fouille in Antibes, Grasse and Mandelieu
  • GiFi in Antibes (near Decathlon), Callian, Cannes La Bocca, Fréjus, Grasse, Menton
  • IdéaFête in Villeneuve Loubet, Nice St Isidore or Mougins
  • Fêter et Recevoir in Cannes La Bocca and Nice
  • Carrefour

Trick or treating in neighbourhoods on the French Riviera is not as popular as other countries, with children mostly going around village shops or towns.

Some family-friendly Halloween 2018 activities this year on the French Riviera are:

  • Valbonne village is very popular for trick or treating from afternoon onwards.
  • Hard Rock Café in Nice hosts Halloween events each year.  This year, on both Saturday 27 October and Sunday 28 October between 9.30am-midday they welcome families for a Halloween-themed breakfast, kids workshop and magic show.  Reservation is necessary; cost is €16 each child under 10 years of age, free for under 2 years of age, €19 for adults. Email them to book: nice_sales@hardrock.com 
  • Espace Magnan in Nice has a special screening of ‘Mary et la fleur de la sorcière‘ at 2pm.  Suitable for kids 8 years up, children can go in costume and participate in a colouring-in competition to win cinema tickets.  Cost:  €6 per child
  • Parc Alpha Loup has Halloween celebrations running all through school holidays until 4 November.  Any children under 12 years of age who come in Halloween costume get free entry – a hat doesn’t justify free entry, you must dress up with some effort!   Note: The Alpha Loup website address given on all posters now redirects to Pure Montagne (the rebranded regional site for Côte d’Azur mountain activities and tourist sites).

Parc Alpha Loup for Halloween 2018

  • Vesubia Mountain Park is having a Halloween night party on Friday 2 November that includes abseiling by black light (essentially glow-in-the-dark!)  Entry is reduced to half price for kids under 12 years that come in costume.  More info is here:  Vesubia Mountain Park Halloween 2018

Until 3 November

CANNES:  P’tits Cannes à You is a family-friendly festival aimed at kids 3-13 years and comprises a programme of marionette shows, creative workshops, dance, theatre and music.  The programme includes things such as a screening of Paddington 2 on October 22 and 25, a marionette show on October 24 suitable for kids from 2 years upwards and regular storytelling sessions for toddlers.  Find the full schedule here:   P’tits Cannes à You 2018 programme

P'tits Cannes à You

P’tits Cannes à You is an annual festival with film, shows and workshops for kids (image: Ville de Cannes)

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9 Cool Ideas for Zone B School Holidays

First day of school holidays!  Here are some suggestions for things to see and do to keep your kids entertained for the next few weeks.

  1.  Take them to Top Marques Monaco held the second week of school holidays. Any child into supercars, cool gadgets or hover boards will love it. Saturday and Sunday have the cheaper tickets and kids under 6 years of age are free every day.
Top Marques Monaco - supercars and more

Top Marques Monaco – supercars and more

2. Head to Gonfaron and see the tortoises at the Village des Tortues.  The best way to get there from Cannes/Nice is to go on the A8 until Le Luc en Provence (exit 57) and follow the road to Toulon until you get to the Village.  There is a playground onsite and picnic areas.

Village des Tortues at Gonfaron

Village des Tortues at Gonfaron

3. Discover some playgrounds in other towns on the French Riviera that you don’t always go to.

One of our favourite playgrounds - Parc des Loisirs in Opio has playground equipment plus cycling tracks

One of our favourite playgrounds – Parc des Loisirs in Opio has playground equipment plus cycling tracks

4. Visit some art museums on the French Riviera – many are free entry for kids so if your kids get bored you haven’t wasted your money.

5. Parc Phoenix is one of our favourites because it has a good mix of everything and covers a range of ages from toddler age upwards.  There is a playground, musical fountain, greenhouse with flamingos, beautiful tropical plants, mini aquarium and alligators, small animal enclosures with birds, meerkats, otters, snack kiosk for ice creams etc and you also get free entry to the adjacent Musée des Arts Asiatiques.

Car parking is free for up to 2 hours at the underground facility next to the park; entry is a bargain at €3 per adults and kids under 12 years are free of charge.

Parc Phoenix, highly recommended for families

Parc Phoenix, highly recommended for families

6. Go cycling – the promenade from Villeneuve Loubet all the way to Nice is perfect for some time on the bike, the pathway is flat and paved all the way and there are enough cafés along the way especially at St Laurent du Var and Cagnes-sur-Mer to stop for a drink.  Or visit the bike park at Mougins for some off-road dirt track action.

7. Act like sleuths and follow one of the many family-friendly treasure hunts across the French Riviera and Var, some of them have prizes to win from the Tourist Offices year round.

8. The adventure parks at Villeneuve Loubet are all excellent and reopen for the year from Easter school holidays – try Bois des Lutins for toddler age, Pitchoun Forest for over 3 years, Le Village des Fous for 4 years upwards and Canyon Forest for 8 years upwards.

9. Take a trip to the Alpha Parc des Loups.  A ‘Pass Famille’ is great value for 2 adults and 2 kids (€30); kids under 4 years are free year round.  Situated at 1500 metres there’s still snow in the park so dress appropriately; it’s a pretty cool experience for kids to see the wolves in the snow.  Nearby, the Lac du Boréon is a pretty spot for a photo or two and adventurists types can visit the Centre Nordique to climb the 15-metre high cascade de glace, an artificial ice-climbing waterfall (from 10 years old).

Alpha Parc des Loups

Alpha Parc des Loups

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Activities – NICE (Children’s theatre show – 13 July)

A bonus of living in this region is the great weather to enjoy the outdoors, however occasionally it is nice to sample indoor activities and there is a Saturday show for children occurring this Saturday 13 July at Théâtre Athena (Compagnie Athena) in Nice.

This small theatre is located close to the main Nice train station, and stages comedy, drama, theatre for all ages.  However, while the school holidays are on they are having a theatre show for children aged 4 and upwards.

The summary of the show is a pirate floats on his raft and while fishing he catches a mermaid, who is ill because of all the plastic bags that are dumped in the ocean.  Bobby Joe, the king of the sea, must try to save all the sea creatures in the ocean and defeat the evil wizard Purula who pollutes the ocean.  Perhaps his good deeds will win the heart of the beautiful mermaid, Julie?

theatre-athena[1]

Théâtre Athena – Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor

Where:  Théâtre Athena, 21 rue d’Alsace Lorraine

When:  Saturday 13 July at 5pm

Suited for ages 4 years and upwards

Tickets:  8,94 euros including taxes – contact the theatre via email reservation@theatreathena.com or online via the theatre’s website www.theatre-athena.com