By Rhonda Carrier
France remains a perennial favourite for family holidays – close at hand and easy and relatively inexpensive to reach, with fantastic food, scenery and beaches.
Another big plus is its huge choice of self-catering properties, from luxurious villas to rustic gîtes. They're especially suitable for those travelling with younger kids, allowing you to save on restaurant bills and take advantage of all those wonderful French markets. Here are some of our favourites around the country:
This holiday park in the Center Parcs style brings together outdoors experiences including a farm and gardens with promixity to Disneyland Paris and the French capital itself. Accommodation includes cottages by the lake or in the woods.
With an indoor pool, family rooms sleeping up to four, and views of the Eiffel Tower, these colourful apartments are perfect for those looking for self-catering options in the French capital with kids.
Guests at this intimate resort of wooden stilted cabins can eat produce from the veg garden, visit the beehive and play football in the pastures, as well as enjoy the use of the indoor pool. But you’re also only a few minutes’ drive from the gorgeous Baie de Somme with its seal-spotting, seal-kayaking and steam-train rides.
Everything from budget-friendly tents with kitchens to mobile homes make this holiday park in 400 acres of wooded parkland popular with families. There’s also a lake, indoor and outdoor pools, an 18-hole golf course and riding stables.
This car-free holiday village in the heart of a pine forest is within just a couple of minutes from a beach with a surfing school as well as being bordered by two great golf courses. Four on-site pools include one dedicated to scuba-diving.
This fabulous resort embraces an outdoor pool, a luxury spa, a kids’ club, boules and tennis courts, and bikes for exploring the local countryside and typical French villages. There are hotel rooms, but families will fight over the holiday houses, some sleeping eight and many with a private pool and garden.
Chic yet relaxed, this splendid luxury resort nestled amidst vineyards also offers both self-catering and hotel accommodation plus fantastic facilities and services for families: a heated outdoor pool, tennis and boules courts, bike loan, and a kids’ club in July and August. Many of the apartments or villas have their own outdoor pool and terrace or garden area, plus a BBQ and alfresco dining area.
A superb option in the Hérault close to Montpellier, this delightful place takes entertaining children very seriously but also knows that parents need little treats too – the accommodation is five-star and the list of facilities and activities is impressive, including a crèche, a petting farm, two nights’ babysitting, catered meals, massages and yoga.
This converted two-bedroom (six-person) fruit farm with its 4.5 hectares to explore in the gorgeous Pyrénées Orientales is a simple, beautiful place, close enough to the coast yet miles away from everywhere else – a place to keep the kids happy (there are donkeys and a swimming pool) while you lie back and admire the mountains.
This luminous, luxurious five-bedroom farmhouse in the Luberon offers a stylish and peaceful family escape just 30 minutes from both Marseille airport and Avignon TGV station. The outdoor pool, hot tub and pétanque court provide lots of scope for outdoor fun, and there’s a summer kitchen for alfresco dining. Inside, a stunning mezzanine games room invites you to gather for games or pool and table football, and there’s a sauna to relax in afterwards.
Within easy reach of Marseille and Aix en Provence, this villa complex of 35 villas is right beside the lovely 18-hole golf course at Nans les Pins and offers green fee discounts. Many of the pretty blue-shuttered villas have private pools and all have gardens, and there’s a shared outdoor pool, a tennis court, table tennis, a pétanque court and bike hire.
Close to the slopes and beside a ski school, these self-catering apartments for 4–10 are ideally located for family ski holidays in Flaine – the winner of our Best Ever Family Ski Resort award with over-sevens. The indoor pool is great with kids, while parents appreciate the sauna and outdoor hot tub. Flaine is also worth considering for its short transfer time (just over an hour) from Geneva airport.
These five-star ski apartments in family-friendly, car-free Avoriaz please kids and adults alike with their indoor pool and lovely spa. Kids’ club places and ski school in the resort can be booked, while apartments sleeping up to 12 make this great for holidays with other friends or grandparents.
Read also our features on unusual places to stay with kids in Europe; best treehouses, glamping and unusual camping sites in northern France; and green places to stay in Europe with kids.