Some people complain about tourists. I have a lot of Parisian friends and family, and they moan and groan about the tourists. That’s kind of understandable, because Paris is a huge world capital, and there are always a lot of people out and about. Down here in Béziers it’s a little different because when there are no tourists, you don’t tend to see many people. For about a month we’ve been seeing more and more people in the streets, restaurants, and cafés. That’s partially due to the amazing weather we’ve been having most of the time, and partially due to the mostly Northern European tourists who think that it’s delightful to take a dip in the Mediterranean when the water is only 19 ° (66° F). If you’re from Northern Europe, tell me if it’s true that you love the “plages naturistes“.
Tourists bring vitality this region, and it’s what the economy here thrives upon! 16 years ago, when we lived here for one year after getting married, someone told me that there are 3 passions in Béziers: le rugby, le vin, et la féria! I see now how true that is, and I think that this passion draws tourists to the region. It’s what drew me here summer after summer, until we finally decided to move here last year. Back in St. Louis, summer was definitely not my favorite season. It was too hot to even get outside. Here, even in the summer there’s often a slight sea breeze, and there’s no humidity to speak of. I love to go and sit at the pub across the street and drink a cold beer while the kids ride their bikes and scooters on the big square. I don’t even feel like we need to leave here to go on vacation this year….. but don’t worry, I won’t let that stop us! Until then, I have to say that I LOVE MY JOB, and giving French immersion tours and French lessons in the region this summer is going to be so much fun.
It’s almost scary how much I’ve heard (or overheard) people saying that they’re not going to travel this summer. Why? It’s not because of the economy or because they’re afraid of terrorist attacks. They aren’t going to travel because their kids are too small. While I haven’t given advice where advice is not requested, I did think about it a good bit. We’ve always traveled with our kids, and though the flight to France or 12 hour drive to Louisiana may not be the MOST fun we’ve ever had, the reward has been enjoying our summer travels to places near and far even if we do have little ones. In this post I’m going to focus on traveling with kids in France. We all know that France is the world’s #1 tourist destination, but what usually comes to mind are the museums, fine restaurants, wine tours, etc. In a nutshell… We think of grown-up stuff. When traveling in France with little kids, you may be amazed at how much there is for them to do. It’s just that before you have kids you don’t pay as much attention to what’s going on for the younger set. I’ve been digging around in my pictures looking for shots of our kids having a blast in France. Sometimes you’ll see we’re in Paris, other times in the south.
You can go directly to their website @ www.bateaux–mouches.fr for pricing and schedules. The ride doesn’t last too long, and if you choose to go on the cruise on a day when it’s nice out you can sit outside on the deck as we were in this picture. The cruise along the Seine gives you really nice views of practically all of the important monuments in Paris. In the summer, you have to wait until it’s pretty late if you want to see the monuments illuminated… which might be a challenge if you have really small kids with you. Here’s my baby having so much fun on the carousel in the Champs de Mars park, Eiffel Tower. I wish I could remember how old this carousel is. Let’s just say it’s VERY old and old-fashioned. What I mean is, there’s a guy who stands in the middle and hand cranks the thing so it will turn! Only in Paris! There’s so much fun stuff to do in the Champs de Mars. You’ve got this great park with swings, jungle gyms, this carousel, a sand box. There’s also, on the other side of the park, an area where the kids can ride donkeys, ride in little go-carts, watch a Marionnette show. Here are some pics from the Champs de Mars:
By the way, these swings go REALLLLLY high! So much fun, but make sure you strap ’em in real good! They also have swings like these in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is over in the Latin Quarter. Another really neat place for people of all ages. Here are some pictures taken over there:
There are plenty of marionnette theaters all over Paris, but for some reason I really like this one in the Jardin du Luxembourg. So much fun. The old man comes out with his bell in hand and starts ringing it when it’s puppet show time. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t speak French (but of course, it helps if you do!) because the show will entertain both your kids AND you regardless. There’s probably no better way to have a truly Parisian experience, right along with REAL French parents and their kids, than at the marionnettes.
This is one of the most beloved activities of our kids at the Jardin du Luxembourg. You rent one of these little sailboats, especially fun on a moderately windy day, and you play to your heart’s content. There’s just a small fee, but you’re good for a solid hour of seeing your sailboat fly across the basin and running to catch up with it. If you go on a day with no wind… you may have to wait awhile for your boat to get to the other side but it’s still so much fun.
Who knew there were so many donkeys in Paris? As at the Champs de Mars, your little one can take a donkey ride at the Jardin du Luxembourg.
What kid doesn’t like trains? In France, a great option with the little ones is to board the fastest train in the world (on rails) and head down for le Midi (the south) where you’re sure to have nice, warm weather and you’ll meet some of the sweetest, most kid loving people on the planet!
When most people think of the south of France, they think of “The Riviera”… La Côte d’Azur. Yes, it’s quite lovely! BUT if you’re on a budget and want to really get to know the south of France, where there are more French people and less tourists, head on over to the Languedoc region. It’s just as beautiful, it’s less crowded, and it’s cheaper!
You’ll be hard pressed in Paris to find an outdoor swimming pool where you can relax, but in the South, finding a pool is no problem! Now here’s something just as much fun for Maman et Papa as for the kids. Go and take a walk through the vineyards. They’re everywhere, literally. Along the way, maybe you’ll run into a little “dégustation de vin”… WINE TASTING!! Did you know that the Languedoc produces the largest quantity of table wine in France?? And if you’re on foot or if you have a bike, you don’t even have to worry about driving! Yeah… Watch out if you’ve been to a dégustation and then have to drive while you’re in France. They’ll stop you and you’ll get a DUI. It’s gotten really strict. Just don’t do it!
Our kids love to gather up as many escargot as possible, get them a little wet, then have races to see which one is fastest!
La cigale, the so-called symbol of the South of France. You’ll find them depicted everywhere, on tableclothes, in ceramic form, just everywhere. If you’re really lucky you’ll find one coming out of it’s shell, just being born. It’s a real privilege!
Bullfighting is really big in the south of France in the summertime, but it’s not exactly something you want to go see with your kids…..a liitle too much blood. In Provence, you can go with your kids to see a provençal style “bullfight” where the guys taunt the bull but nobody gets hurt. You can see the guy jumping over the wall here in this picture. It’s pretty exciting, no matter your age.