Are you ready to take your kids on a trip of a lifetime? Then you should really consider taking your kids to France for the summer holidays. We took our kids to France one summer for 2 weeks and we all had the time of our lives. Our family split the first week in Paris and Normandy and spent the second week in Brittany and the Loire Valley. Read more about how to plan your two-week family-friendly vacation in France.

Week 1: Paris, Versailles, and Bayeux

The first part of your first week should be devoted to Paris (4 days).
If this is your first time to Paris, then give yourself at least 4 full days to explore the city. However, if you have already been to Paris multiple times and have been to Versailles, you may want to spend a day or two in the city to get acclimated and then head to Normandy and extend your stay there. Ideally, this itinerary is for families traveling to France for the first time.
Depending on the ages of your kids, you will want to build in some downtime into your schedule. Do yourself a favor and make sure to give yourself free time when traveling with kids. If you try to over-program your day, nobody will enjoy the family vacation. Your kids will be upset with you and you will get short with your kids.
If you are traveling with newborns and toddlers, remember that some places don’t charge entrance fees. We have taken the kids to France a few times, and the first time was when our eldest was an infant. We noticed that the French were very accommodating to parents with infants and often let us skip the line — now, I don’t want to guarantee this, but this was our experience.
So how do you spend the first few days in Paris?
When traveling with kids, I am hesitant to recommend a Paris Pass of any kind. Will you be spending all of your time in museums? Probably not, says the museum lover herself. I get it. My kids don’t want to be stuck inside a museum as long as I do. That aside, here’s my suggested itinerary for 4 days in Paris, with a 1 day trip to Versailles.
dad and his son in front of Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
mom with her daughter in front of Paris architecture
Paris architecture

Day 1: Paris – Explore the city via the Big Bus

The classic Big Bus Tour of Paris gives first-timers an easy introduction to the City of Light. You get a friendly introduction to the Seine River and the major sights, including the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Champs d’Lysee, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Tuileries Garden. The best thing about taking the Big Bus Tour is that you can hop off and on — just remember where the stops are and their schedules.

Depending on when you visit Paris, I would recommend that you get tickets for a sunset summit of the Eiffel Tower. You should anticipate spending at least two hours at the Eiffel Tower. This includes the time it takes to go through security and ascending and descending the various levels. If your family is up for it, you can purchase tickets where you walk the stairs of the towers – but I would not recommend this with little children. You can always walk a portion of the stairs on the way down, if you really want to.

After you have descended the Eiffel Tower, now it’s time for dinner. There are plenty of family-friendly restaurants in Paris — although it may not seem like it at first. The best thing about Paris is that it is an international city and due to the French colonial history, there are plenty of non-French cuisine restaurants — including Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian, and more. And if you’re not in the mood for dinner and would rather pick up some food from the marche’ (grocer) in Paris, then do that and get ready for your next day in Paris.

Day 2 – Museum Day in Paris

Hopefully, by now you are getting used to the time change and accompanying jet lag. The reason I call this Museum Day is that I don’t care which museum you want to visit, just go visit one. Don’t expect to visit two museums with young kids, as they will get cranky and want to leave. So if you want to visit a museum, stick to central Paris as you have so many options.

I know most people want to visit the Louvre. If you do, remember you don’t have to see the entire museum in one go. After you book your tickets, make sure you consider which wings of the Louver you want to visit. When traveling with young kids, I like to create games so that their trip to the museum is more entertaining. For example, I may create scavenger hunt cards for the kids or ask them to tell me their favorite piece of artwork in the room. Even better, I would book a family-friendly private tour of the Louvre. When we travel, we will book several kid-friendly museum tours and the expert guides know how to navigate our experience. Better than that, the guides can save a lot of time and headache — as they normally have private entrances and know the shortcuts in the museums.

Other kid-friendly museums might be the smaller ones, such as the d’Orsay or the Orangerie. If your kids love architecture, they might enjoy taking the escalators at the Pompidou and looking at the landscape of Paris. The d’Orsay and Orangerie are both much smaller than the Louvre, and have interesting interior design that might capture a child’s attention.

After your day at the museum, I would stop for a cafe or gelato in Paris. Enjoy the break in one of the many public parks in the city. One of our favorite parks is Luxembourg Gardens, which is located south of the Seine River. The Gardens have plenty of playgrounds and park benches to relax at.

If you are north of the river, then stop at the Tuileries (near the Louvre). Both of these green spaces allow both parents and kids to unwind.

Day 3 – Day trip to Versailles

The big question is should you visit Versailles on your first family trip to France? Hmnh, that’s a good question. I think it really depends on the pace of the holiday you want. If your family wants to cram in the activities, then I would recommend yes. However, if you want some down time, which is highly suggested when traveling with kids, I would suggest you either extend your stay in France or consider Versailles for your next holiday to France.

If however, you have decided to travel to Versailles, it’s relatively easy. You can either take the train there or book a private tour and driver. Before you go to Versailles, determine how much of the sight you want to see. You can see the main building that King Louis XIV built and return to Paris after that, or add on the gardens and Marie Antoinette’s home. Versailles is pretty awe-inspiring and can take a while to see most of the grounds.

After a half or full day at Versailles, treat your kids to a meal in Paris. Then get ready for your last day in Paris before you head to Normandy.

Day 4 – Your last day in Paris

What should the focus of your last day in Paris be? Once again, it really depends on the age of your kids and the kinds of activities you enjoy. The river cruise along the Seine is family-friendly and appeals to travelers of all ages. If you have older kids or teens, they may enjoy the evening dinner on the Seine River Cruise. Most of the river cruises depart south of the Seine at either Pont Neuf (close to Ile de la Cite) or near the Eiffel Tower.

You can always combine the River Cruise with either the summit to the Eiffel Tower or a museum day to save time.

Before you head back to your hotel, take a stroll through any of the picturesque neighborhoods. One of my personal favorites is the Marais (on the right bank) or Saint-Germain (left bank). Stop for a drink and enjoy the lively scenes of Paris.

For hotel recommendations, I highly recommend the Esprit Saint Germain on the left bank. Our kids loved the space, which is a premium in European cities.

Note: If you book the Esprit Saint Germain or some of the other hotels listed on this site, you may receive additional amenities.

Day 5 – Bayeux, Normandy

From Paris, take the train to Bayeux. Once you’re in Bayeux, you can pick up your rental car there. Note, Bayeux is a small town so rental car agencies don’t have as many car options. If you want more car options, then I would recommend you take the train to Caen and pick up your car in Caen and drive to Bayeux. The drive from Caen to Bayeux is about 30 minutes. While Caen is a larger city, most of the city center was bombed during WWII so it isn’t as beautiful place to base yourself as Bayeux is. Also, with kids, we found Bayeux very easy to walk around.

Once in Bayeux, I would recommend you either stay at a B&B – our personal favorite is Le Colline – or at one of the hotels in the town. Le Colline is run by Stephane Le Guennec and his wife. Stephane’s B&B is located on rue Saint Exupère, only a few steps from the famous Bayuex Tapestry Museum. You can rent up to 4 very well-appointed rooms with comfortable beds and large showers. They also have a wonderful outdoor garden and Stephane provides a daily breakfast. We loved our stay at Le Colline.

If you prefer a hotel, there are plenty of options in central Bayeux. For a splurge, consider the luxurious 5-star Villa Lara. Other recommended hotels include the Churchill or the Lion. If you don’t need to stay in the city center, then book a hotel around the perimeter of the town, such as the Novotel. But to be honest, I would rather stay in the city center.

As for parking, we found it easy to park near our B&B. If you are staying at one of the hotels, they should have designated parking.

While in Bayeux, I would spend at least 1 day visiting the main sights of the town, including the Tapestry Museum, the Cathedral, and the Battle of Normandy Museum. The kids will enjoy the Bayeux Tapestry Museum – yes, they will. Do you know why? It’s because the museum has made an effort to make the museum kid-friendly. They have an audio guide that is geared for young people. The Bayeux Tapestry is the town’s most famous attraction. It is an 11th-century masterwork of medieval art – work of stitching woven from wool yarn in ten distinct colors. The 70-meter-long Bayeux Tapestry portrays the Duke of Normandy’s (William the Conqueror) invasion of England in 1066, culminating in the Battle of Hastings.

Since the town is relatively small, I would recommend walking from sight to sight. After visiting the Tapestry Museum, walk about 5 minutes until you reach the Cathedral.

Day 6 – Day trip to the Beaches of Normandy

After a good hearty breakfast, head to Cabourg, Normandy and stop along the way at the various beaches of Normandy, like Juno Beach and Omaha Beach. Make sure to stop at Arromanches-les-Bains and walk on the beach. For lovers of WWII history, you will appreciate the effort that the Allies took to construct the artificial harbor. The remnants of the artificial harbor are still present and make for a fabulous backdrop to the misty weather in Normandy.

You can either dine in Arromanches or bring a picnic lunch, depending on the weather. After you have a break, then you can continue down the coast to Omaha Beach or stop at Batterie de Longues-sur-Mer. If you make it to Omaha Beach, check out the museum dedicated to Operation Overlord (code name for the Battle of Normandy). Even if you are not a WWII history lover, you will be amazed by the full-scale battery of tanks the Germans built on French soil to defeat the Allies.

Day 7 – Day trip to Honfleur

After a long day visiting the beaches of Normandy, take it easy and do a day trip to Honfleur. Honfleur is about a 1 hour drive from Bayeux and is a very walkable town. Parking is relatively easy to find. I recommend parking at the Bassin du Centre lot, which gives you easy access to the city center. Once you get to the city center, just absorb the historic town. Most of the restaurants and sights are near the Port of Honfleur.

The kids enjoyed just walking around Honfleur and riding the carousel. Really, there is no must see sight in Honfleur — you just want to have an easy day and explore a new town. Grab some fresh moules frites and calvados while you watch the people pass by. 🙂

If you don’t want to visit Honfleur, you can stay in Bayeux and if it is a Wednesday or Saturday then go to the in-town market. The market is located on Rue Saint Patrice – at one end of Bayeux’s old town. Or, with the kids, you can explore the Parc de la Vallée de l’Aure and the old mill in the town of Bayeux. The Parc de la Vallée de l’Aure is not heavily touristed. In fact, the only sounds you will hear are frogs croaking and the birds.
Completely serene

Week 2: Brittany and Loire Valley

Are you ready to start your second week in France? After exploring Paris and Normandy, you should split the rest of your time in Brittany and the Loire Valley.

Day 8 – Drive to Dinan

While you explore Brittany, I highly recommend staying in the town of Dinan, which is about 2 hours away by car. It’s a quaint town with a village feel with its own castle. Our kids loved walking around Dinan and eating crepes all day long. And you know you have entered Brittany (or Bretagne) because you will see the ubiquitous sable’ breton (Bretagne butter biscuits).

Dinan is a small town so you can stay pretty much anywhere in the town. If you want to stay near the historic core and castle, then I recommend Hotel Arvor or one of the chambre d’hôtes (bed and breakfast) in the city center. The Hotel Arvor has free parking for its guests and a decent breakfast. We were there during Covid and everything was very clean and wrapped. The kids enjoyed the bread basket and we adults enjoyed the coffee and the views.

You can take the kids to the chateau (castle) in Dinan. It’s not the most impressive castle in all of France, but it does make for an easy visit.

After time in the castle, go to the center of town (near the Mairie de Dinan, a city government building) and meander through the walled streets. I would suggest that you pick a local cafe and sit and watch the people pass by. The town of Dinan is famous for its medieval buildings which have the higher floors veer out.

If you don’t want to enter the castle, then explore the green area near the castle or walk down to the Port of Dinan and walk over the Old Bridge (Le vieux pont). Once you are here, you can take your kids on a walk near Lanvallay or have a meal portside.

There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. If you’re looking for something quick and casual, we ate at Plan B (a burger joint in Dinan), had take out assembled from various restaurants in Dinan another night, and had crepes another day. When you are in the smaller towns, you should be accustomed to eating the local cuisine – and in Dinan that means a lot of crepes (sweet) and galettes (which are essentially savory filled buckwheat crepes). Probably my most favorite meal in Dinan was the night we assembled takeout and got a great bottle of wine from La Cave des Jacobins wine shop.

Day 9 – Day trip to Mont Saint-Michel

So if you want to save time, you can stop off at Mont Saint Michel on your way to Dinan from Bayeux. That’s what we did to break up the day. If you have never heard of Mont Saint Michel, chances are you have seen images of the monastery built on a causeway in France. The cathedral is located between two regions of France: Brittany and Normandy. While many people want to stay in Mont Saint-Michel, to escape the day trippers, you have to keep in mind that there is no easy way to access the island. Once you get there, it is not really mobility friendly. There are a lot of steps and the walk up to the monastery is quite hilly. For that reason, many people prefer to stay in a town nearby and make the visit a day trip.

Our family parked in one of the many lots near the ticket booth entrance. I would advise anyone to procure tickets in advance for the monastery.

In order to access the town, you can get there 3 ways from the parking lots: 1) take a shuttle bus (relatively frequent and free); 2) walk (free, but takes a little bit of time – 40 minutes or so when you are walking with kids); or 3) take a horse-drawn carriage (costs more than the bus, and takes longer than the bus).

Once you have arrived near the island of Mont Saint-Michel, you will be let off and have to walk 5 minutes to enter the walled city. Before heading up to the church, we had a late lunch with beautiful views of the causeway. If you couldn’t get tickets for the monastery or your family doesn’t want to visit it, I would still walk up as close as possible to get the best views from Mont Saint-Michel. During our short trip, we got the kids gelato or crepes a few times to bribe them to walk up the hill. (Mom trick.)

Note: There are certain dates of the year when the causeway can get flooded, so you have to plan in advance of when you plan to arrive and depart from the island.

​​Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important medieval pilgrimage site. This designation protects the Bay of Saint-Michel and the Abbey of Saint-Michel, dating from the 11th to 13th centuries.

The Abbey of Saint-Michel stands more than 100 meters above sea level and has a mythological feel. As the location begs tourists to traverse the ominous Bay of Saint-Michel, the awe-inspiring Gothic spires appear to rise towards heaven.

During low tide, visitors would complete a “traditional crossing,” a guided trek to reach Mont Saint-Michel. Mont Saint-Michel transforms into an island with just one road access during high tide.

The Abbey Church, accessed by ascending a 200-meter pedestrian route and then 350 stairs to the highest point of Mont Saint-Michel, is one of the attractions of a visit to Mont Saint-Michel. The Abbey Church dates from the 12th century and has a calm Romanesque sanctuary and a magnificent Gothic choir.

The “Escalier de Dentelle” (staircase) leads to a terrace with stunning panoramic views of the sea from the Abbey Church.

Day 10 – Day trip to Saint Malo

Saint Malo is a picturesque port town in Brittany. This is another fabulous walled town in France – and the kids will have a fun time walking along the ramparts. If you have time, you can visit some of the ships that are docked or if it’s a warm summer day, you can take the kids to one of the small strips of beach in the town. Like many French towns, there is a kid-friendly carousel and lots of cobblestone streets to get lost in.

While in Brittany, make sure you stop off at one of the biscuiterie (Cookie or biscuit shops) or creperie in town. Brittany is especially well-known for its assortment of sweets. They really do like their sweet breads and cookies, like the far breton and the Kouign-amann. For some of the most delectable kouign-amanns in Saint Malo, you should stop by Kouign Amann Saint Malo. And if you think you can get the same type of quality back home, forget it. Just enjoy the calories while you’re there.

Day 11 – Drive to Amboise

Our next drive was our longest drive – as it’s a good 3.5 hours to drive from Dinan to Amboise. We had considered other towns, such as Nantes and Angers, but after looking at images of the town and its proximity to many of the chateaux in the region, we decided on Amboise – and I was very enthusiastic about this decision upon our arrival.

On our way to Amboise, we stopped in the Saumur region of France. If you’re familiar with French white wines, then you have heard of Saumur – home to Chenin Blanc and the red Cabernet Franc. Although we didn’t have time to visit any of the wine caves in this region, we did stop off at a cave dwelling that populates the area. In fact, there are so many wineries I wish I had the opportunity to visit – but I’ll save that for a future trip!

We took a slight detour to “Le Mystère des Faluns” – Les Perrières, located near the town of Anjou. This place is really off the tourist map for several reasons. Most of the other visitors, and there weren’t that many, were French-speaking tourists. Another reason is that most French tourists are not hanging out in the Loire Valley visiting sights like this, they are most likely in the south or near the coast to cool off during the summer. And if people are in the Loire Valley, the vast majority of them are visiting chateaux or wineries – not cool caves like this place.

The entire self-guided tour takes under an hour. While walking through this massive space, the museum has made it more of an art-installation. If you have visited other cave dwellings in Matera, Italy or somewhere in Turkey, this is not the same experience. If you want something similar to that, there are a few other cave dwellings in this region. But if you want a funky cool exhibition that happens to be placed in a deep cave, then check out the Faluns.

After our stop at the Faluns, we continued our drive to Amboise. This was the first town that we came to where I heard a lot more English being spoken.

We stayed at the Hotel Le Clos D’Amboise which is located right on the edge of town. Amboise is not a very large town, so as long as you are on the side with the historic sights it won’t take you very long to get anywhere. For a more upscale experience, then consider the Hôtel Le Manoir Les Minimes. There are also a lot of private chambres and smaller hotels available in Amboise. Unlike Bayeux, we didn’t find parking to be as easy. Even though our hotel had dedicated parking, there weren’t many spaces available so we parked at local lots near the hotel. Despite that, the room and breakfast were spacious and the kids really enjoyed the pool.

The town of Amboise is pedestrian friendly and there are plenty of restaurants to choose from in the city center. Some of our favorite places to eat were Label Cantine – an Italian-inspired place to grab a quick bite to eat. My husband and I enjoyed the bottle of Bio wine with our pizzas and pasta, and the kids loved the friendly staff. For a more upscale experience, then consider dining at La Fourchette or the restaurant at Hotel Le Clos d’Amboise. Both La Fourchette and Le Clos d’Amboise offer a more typical French dining experience.

Day 13 – Visit Chateau de Chenonceau

Which of the many chateaux in the Loire Valley should you visit? The one that is closest to you. Seriously, with kids you don’t want to drive too far to visit the historic sights. That’s how our family decided on visiting Chateau de Chenonceau – and the kids loved it. It was only a 20 minute drive from Amboise, making it a very easy decision for us. This chateau is most famous for its bridge over the river Cher. What’s even more interesting is the history behind this chateau. Supposedly it was a gift for the King Henry II’s mistress, only to be forced back to his widow Catherine the Medici after his death. The mistress ended up getting the Chateau Chaumont.

Once you get your tickets to the chateau, I would recommend that you arrive a bit early and explore the grounds first. Then, when you have your timed entry, you can enter the chateau and visit the rooms. One of the more popular rooms is the kitchen.

After you visit the castle itself, make sure to spend some more time outside. There is a fabulous labyrinth near the entrance that kids and adults will enjoy. Food is available at the chateau or you can bring some snacks along for the visit and if it’s a nice spring or summer day, enjoy them outside taking in the views of the castle.

Day 14 – Return to Paris and go back home (sniff, sniff)

And there you have it, a perfectly planned two week family vacation in France. If you don’t want to plan this all on your own, contact me and we can start your travel journey together.

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