We are lucky to go to the South of France every year. When we are there we stay in Saint-Raphael, a nice coastal town which is lively year-round. Saint-Raphael is an excellent starting point to explore the Cote d’Azur and is conveniently located near the beautiful Massif de l’Esterel.
What to do near Saint-Raphael?
The Massif de l’Esterel, or Roches Rouges (Red Rocks) is our favorite spot! It can be explored by foot, and in summer also by boat to see the red colored rocks end up in the sea. There are plenty of walking paths and most of them offer majestic views of the coast. Children like to climb up the rocks and look at the views of the Mediterranean sea. Along the way they will also see a lot of Mediterranean plants and insects. Always check if the massif is open before going since in case of high temperatures and dryness they sometimes decide to close the access for security reasons.
The route de la Corniche d’Or is a well-known scenic road along the coast of the Cote d’Azur. You can drive for instance from Saint-Raphael to Cannes and have the feeling that you’re driving in a postcard. In Summer you can try to stop along some creeks and have a swim, if you are early and lucky enough to find a parking spot along the road. Otherwise you can also stop in bigger coastal towns like Mandelieu-la-Napoule or Théoule-sur-mer.
In Cannes you can take a boat to visit the Iles de Lérins. We chose to visit one of the two islands, Ile Sainte Marguerite. You can walk around on the island and follow the marked trails, or visit the Fort, which once served as a prison. The most famous prisoner here was the Man in the Iron Mask.
Of course, if you are there in summer, you can also swim, bring a picnic and relax while enjoying the view of Cannes.
Monaco is a bit far from Saint-Raphael, but still very much worth the day trip! On the ‘Rock’ there are cute little streets, the Palace of the Prince where you can see the changing of the guards and beautiful views. The thing we liked the most was the well-known Aquarium, or Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. A part from the impressive aquariums they also offer a lot of activities for children every day.
In the lower part of Monaco you will see plenty of expensive cars, and if your children like Formula 1 races they may recognize some spots along the famous course. Our children like cars and we decided to have each family member count how many specific cars we saw. I remember we came to see about 74 Ferrari’s and 63 Lamborghini’s…
As prices are higher in Monaco, I would recommend to bring some snacks and drinks 😊.
Saint-Tropez is easy to reach from Saint-Raphael. In low season you will not have so much traffic going there (except perhaps at Easter), but in Summer it can take you a little while. If you decide to go to Saint-Tropez by car, I would recommend you to go early. An alternative would be to take the boat from Saint-Raphael. When in Saint-Tropez you have to eat the local dessert ‘la Tropézienne’, you can find them about everywhere! Of course, you can also visit the Museum of Gendarmes and Cinema which is located in the famous building that you will recognize if you saw the movie ‘Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez’ with Louis de Funès.
Fréjus is attached to Saint-Raphael. If you walk on the road along the beach you will just see the sign where one city ends, and the other one begins. The old part of Fréjus is a bit more inland and definitely worth a visit! On Wednesday’s and Saturday’s there is a nice local market in the historical center of the town. Fréjus also has an amphitheatre and an Aqueduct, and a very impressive site for a hike called the Broken Dam of Malpasset.
Read more on Fréjus:
Family activities in Summer
If you are lucky enough to visit Saint-Raphael, or Fréjus in Summer, here are our favorite things to do in during the summer holiday:
- Beaches: Saint-Aygulf for the sandy beach and the nice beach bars near the little center, Tiki Plage, because it is in a beautiful creek, and the Plage du Débarquement because of the amazing number of fish you can see here! Both children and adults will be amazed. This is not a sand beach, it has big stones so remember to wear water shoes and get yourself equipped with snorkeling gear! Once you put your head under water, you will not believe how many fish you can see here!
- Stand up paddling: on the same Plage du Débarquement, to go for a nice adventurous tour around l’ Ile d’Or. Another spot we have tested, is to paddle on the Argens river! There is a little spot here where you can rent paddles or canoes. Coming from Saint-Raphael in direction of Saint-Aygulf, you will see the signs on your right just before entering Saint-Aygulf
- Waterworld in Puget-sur-Argens. Your kids will love this! It is on a lake (with nice temperature!) and has inflatable stuff to climb on and jump off. See for yourself on their website: waterworld83.jimdo.com. Some advice if you have young children, come early, or an hour before they close so that there will not be too many bigger youngsters at the same time!
- Summer night market in Saint-Raphael / Fréjus is a really big night market which is held every night, all summer! There’s not much you cannot find here.
- An ice-cream at night along the beach: on the road next to the beach are several good ice-cream shops!
- Agay, for a restaurant called: ‘Coté Jardin’ for dinner, or ‘La Belle Vie Café’ for lunch!
- A private boat ride to explore l’Esterel: we went with the company www.taksea.fr and they let our children drive the boat! The skipper was really nice and since we had rough sea the first time, they even offered us a second tour on a beautiful day! Exceptional!!
Where to stay?
for a nice resort / holiday park with nice swimming pools, click HERE
Or our hotel recommendation for a hotel which is located right by the beach and that has a great restaurant , click HERE
Would you like to get in the mood for the South of France before your holiday, then have a look at this recipe from the Provence that you can easily re-create at home: