The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.


At first glance the Côte d’Azur (or French Riviera) might not seem like an obvious choice for a holiday destination for families with toddlers with its reputation for glitz and glamour, but look again, it really is.  I’m going to show you just how toddler-friendly this place isWe’ve lived here since our youngest was a toddler; I speak from personal experience.  Here are 28 things to do, activities and days out with toddlers on the Côte d'Azur, France.

holidays with toddlers on Côte dAzur

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I’ve travelled my whole life from babyhood onwards and have never let having my own kids stop my travel passion.  I’m not a theme park or all-inclusive resort type of person and luckily my husband JF shares my love of independent holidays where we make our own fun for the family.  We now have a 16 year old who’s visited 31 countries and has travelled at every age since his first trip abroad at 10 weeks.  His first 6 years were spent as an only child and then son N° 2 came along.  Having 2 kids didn’t stop us despite the added expense.  N° 2 is now 10 and has been to 26 countries, he even took some of his first steps at the Acropolis in Athens just after his first birthday, precious memories indeed!

travelling toddler

I want to show you that travel with toddlers is easy and can be about having fun and making lasting memories, rather than stress and great expense.

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There are times when you need to find an activity or something to do indoors, as a family or for a group of children, even on the Côte d’Azur.  Our climate is famed for its 300 days of sun a year but that still leaves another 65 or 66 when it could be wet.  And when it rains in the South of France it really rains! You need to get out of the house/hotel or holiday rental and do something, but what?

indoor activities on the French RivieraRead on, I’ve picked 10 fun things to do indoors on the French Riviera, all tested by my boys or trusted friends.  I’ve chosen a selection of activities to cater for all ages, from toddler to adult. For more information such as addresses and opening hours click on the links.

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Birthday parties in France - and what not to do

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I was drinking my coffee this morning in a reflective mood remembering this day 16 years ago when I hoped my first baby would be born; the date was 9.9.99 and I liked it as a birth date.  Baby had other ideas however and finally made it into the world a couple of hours into the 10th.  While ruminating on this momentous event and beginning to get all nostalgic I noticed a call out for posts about children's birthday parties around the world from a blogging group I belong to.  And so blogging inspiration struck and the nostalgia became constructive.

birthday party

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We have always been sightseeing with our children ever since day one and have never pandered to the idea that you can't visit cultural/historical sights with young kids.  Our boys are now 14 and 8 and have visited towns, villages, castles, ruins, museums, monuments and cultural sights in 22 and 18 countries respectively.  We've found the key to successful sightseeing is that you have to work at making it fun, don't assume kids will appreciate looking at views/old buildings etc (they won't!) and above all you shouldn't try to see too much.  

hill village Collage

Living where we do now, in the south of France, we are surrounded by many beautiful medieval hill villages, villages perchés, which are just crying out to be explored.  They sit so magnificently on rocky outcrops (Peillon) or sheer cliff faces (Gourdon and Eze), some aren't so high up but still dominate their surroundings with their commanding presence (St Paul de Vence) and some are quite hidden from view (Châteauneuf-Grasse).  There are hundreds of them in the Alpes-Maritimes and over the Italian border in Liguria we are forever discovering new ones.  And we continually go back to old favourites. Every friend who visits (we get a lot of visitors, believe me) gets taken to at least one which means the boys have been to certain villages like Gourdon too many times to count. And, yes, they are normal kids who groan at the mention of walking around a village again and have to be kicked off their computers/tablets etc but I can honestly say that after every single visit they've said "well that was fun!"  Ancient hill villages might not initially seem to be very child-friendly; there aren't any interactive displays or audioguides. There usually aren't any playgrounds and many don't even have cafés or shops, they can appear empty, and yet they are always a success with our children and their friends.

hill villages kids sightseeing

Here are some of the things we do to make visiting hill-top villages enjoyable.


Let the kids run around, play hide and seek in the twisting narrow lanes, the great thing about these villages is that there are no cars.


Bring favourite toys to carry around and a small ball to roll down the alleys (in the less crowded places).

sightseeing with children in hill villages

Make and fly a paper plane, following it where it lands.


Encourage older kids to show the younger ones around; let them take responsibility.


Point out details in the buildings and paths; play games to see who'll be the first to spot something unusual on a wall, or the first cat etc.

hillvillage detail Collage

If you've been before and you're showing friends around ask an older child to act as tour guide to the visitors.  It makes them feel important and you get to see things from a different perspective.


Encourage children to take photos.


Always explore the spooky dark tunnels and lesser-taken paths, you never know what you'll find.

sightseeing with kids off the beaten track

Drink from, and splash in, fountains.  Float paper boats or leaves in them.  Almost all fountains in these villages are safe to drink from.  If there's no sign then it's OK.  If it's not safe then it'll say "eau non potable".



Encourage the kids to enjoy any public art by interacting with it wherever possible.  Mimic the pose, climb on it if allowed, discuss it, ask them what it makes them think of (if abstract) etc.

visiting hill villages with children


Don't hold back on treats.  Stop for ice-creams in all weathers or promise one on the way home if the village doesn't have any.  

ice cream treats while sightseeing



Go into smart patisseries and chocolate shops to see if they have any freebie samples or to buy something small as a treat. 


Above all, don't make it too serious!    

have fun sightseeing with kids

For more detail on perched villages near Nice take a look at my Top 13 favourite hill villages.  Do you go sightseeing with your children?  Do you have any tips to keep up their interest? I'd love to hear from you.

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Sightseeing with children

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