Cote d’Azur with kids
We often go on a family holiday to the South of France. 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 South of France with kids and is conveniently located near the beautiful Massif de l’Estérel mountain range, also know as the ‘Red Rocks’. The French Riviera beaches are also famous, and we know where to find the best ones!
Things 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 French Riviera 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.
To get to the Massif de l’Esterel: follow the signs that take you up on the main road between Saint-Raphael and Agay.
The Route de la Corniche d’Or is a famous 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. Would you like to know what the best French Riviera beaches on the Route de la Corniche d’Or are? Then check out our list of best beaches for some hidden creeks and our drone video of the scenic Route de la Corniche d’Or from above!
In Cannes you can take a boat to visit the Iles de Lérins islands. 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 the bay of Cannes. Make sure to bring water shoes for the kids, as the beaches here are mainly rocks.
Monaco is worth a day trip at least once! On ‘The Rock’, you will find cute little streets, the Palace of the Prince where you can see the changing of the guards, and you will be able to soak up some beautiful views. The thing we liked to do most in Monaco with the kids was the 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 exclusive cars, and if your children like Formula 1 races they may recognize some spots along the roads of the city. As prices are higher in Monaco, I would recommend to bring some drinks and snacks 😊.
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 blue 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 French actor 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 Wednesdays and Saturdays there is a nice, and quite big, 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, which is a nature reserve on a tragic site where a dam has collapsed.
Read more on Things to do in Fréjus or Saint-Raphael:
Family activities in summer
Here are our favorite summer fun things to do with kids around Saint Raphael / Fréjus:
Saint-Aygulf for the sandy beach and the nice beach bars near the little center, and for fun activities like being towed by a speed boat while sitting on an inflatable banana boat or pizza slice. 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! This amazes us every time! The Plage du Débarquement is is not a sandy 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 the Ile d’Or Island. Another paddling spot we have tested, is 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 water 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! Waterworld is open from mid May to mid September.
- 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!
- Saint-Raphael ferris wheel to soak up some beautiful views!
- Agay, for a restaurant called: ‘Coté Jardin’ for dinner, or ‘La Belle Vie Café’ for lunch! There is also a night market in Agay during the summer months.
- A private boat ride to explore the hidden creeks of the Estérel area. We went twice 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 customer service!!
- Would you like to go sightseeing on the French Rivièra? Then check out our article on Best Day Trips on the Cote d’Azur.
Where to stay when visiting the South of France with kids?
Here are two suggestions of a hotel and a resort to stay at in this area of the Cote d’Azur:
for a nice resort / holiday park with lots of activities for the kids and 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, shared by a local, that you can easily re-create at home: