There’s so many amazing things to see during vacations in Southern France, but holidays in South France are a bit different from vacations in really touristy areas like Paris.
We’ve put together our best list of tips for planning your Southern France family holidays, so you can make the most of your family holidays in France, no matter where you visit! 😉
Planning Family Holidays In South France Tip #1:
Double check the address with the Airbnb host or hotel.
This first tip is (as many of our family vacation tips are) based on something we learned the hard way during our own family world travel! 😅
Whenever you're traveling Europe with kids (or without), make sure to double check the address.
We stayed in TWO different accommodations (one hotel and one gorgeous house in the French countryside) and BOTH had wonky addresses listed, so my driving directions were wrong!
First, the hotel address in my Booking.com app just listed the general street without an actual street number. Talk about starting our road trip to Provence off on the wrong foot!
But things really got interesting when we moved on to the cute cottage house we booked from AirBnb!
We found ourselves lost in the French countryside because the AirBnb address was for somewhere totally different! (I’m guessing the host just put it in wrong.)
This was especially stressful because the sun had set while we were trying to find our way there, while navigating the narrow roads (see the next tip below!), and we wound up trying to find our way to the house in the dark French countryside.
I even accidentally side-swiped a tree trunk while turning the car around! It had been cut low and I couldn't see it- when suddenly we hear a loud crunch... and when we get out to look, the short little tree stub had left some colorful marks on the back fender. 😳
Planning vacations to Southern France can be a beautiful destination choice, but don't forget to DOUBLE CHECK the addresses with your host/hotels directly to avoid any unnecessary stress.
It is a quick message to send and can save you some unnecessary stress!
Tip #2 for Planning Vacations Southern France:
Drive slowly!! The roads are narrow and curvy, with higher speed limits.
This tip mostly applies to you if you’re going to be driving in Southern France.
Since our Southern France road trip (part of our larger 3-week European road trip) definitely required driving, we wanted to be sure to include this tip!
One thing we noticed when driving during the summer holidays in South France was that the roads often get a bit narrow, and one car has to scoot over for the other car to pass.
When the roads get curvy, this can become a bit stressful, because the speed limit when driving in Southern France was usually 70 kph (approx 44 mph).
This might not seem fast, but some of the bends get scary, and if a car is right behind you, the pressure to drive the full 70 kph gets higher.
There were a handful of times during our Southern France road trip that we just pulled over to let cars behind us pass- especially because the one-lane roads make slowing down (or even stopping) for oncoming traffic more difficult.
So if you're planning on driving during your family holidays in France, don't be afraid to go slowly and let the cars pass around you. 😉
We have a few more tips for driving posted here if you want to get more helpful details on driving in France, but I'm keeping things brief for this post, so please check that out if you're going to be driving in the French countryside.
Tip #3 for Planning Family Holidays in South France:
Many places close EARLY, so plan ahead of time whenever possible.
One of the things we noticed during our vacations Southern France is that a lot of stores and restaurants closed earlier than we expected.
Since we had booked a house in the French countryside, we needed groceries to make some of our own meals in the kitchen, and although there were a fair selection of grocery stores, they were all closed around 8pm, and some of them were also closed on Sundays and/or Mondays altogether!
For us, since we live in Spain where the nightlife is part of the culture, we assumed stores would be open until at least 9 or 10 pm. (You know what they say about assuming things! 🤣
If you’re planning to spend your holidays in Southern France, don’t forget to head to the stores early.
If you're trying to keep your family travel on a budget, this is an especially important family travel tip!
If you need something from the store and don't make it in time, you might find yourself searching for a specialty store that's open later- and they tend to be more expensive. (If you can even find one, of course!)
Also, when making grocery runs on your South of France trip, look for a store called Carrefour.
Carrefour has larger supermarkets (like a smaller Walmart) AND many smaller grocery stores that are more like corner stores with main grocery staples.
All of the Carrefour stores tend to be open 7 days a week, making it a little easier if you need to grab some food on a Sunday or a Monday.
EU TRAVEL TIP: Carrefour stores are available all through France and Spain and have many locations in other countries throughout Europe, so it’s a good name to keep in mind when planning family holidays in France and the neighboring areas.
For restaurants, many places tend to close for the afternoon and open up again for a few hours at dinner time.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been on family holidays with teenagers, and they almost instantly become whiney, cranky creatures from another species until they’ve been properly fed.
I’m convinced that they hit a certain level of sightseeing and some sort of inner ‘feed me’ switch flips. Beware- and be prepared! 🤪
By planning out the itinerary of your France family holidays in advance, you can save yourself a lot of trouble, and prevent the kids from getting hangry at 2pm when everything is closed and you still haven’t had lunch yet.
PSST- You can use our free Super Simple Vacation Planner to organize your family travel with ease- so you can stay within your family travel budget AND make the most of your vacation time!
Tip #4 for Planning Family Holidays in South France:
Be sure to learn a few common phrases (or download a cheat sheet!) in French.
During our road trip through Europe with kids, we spent almost two weeks of our family vacation in France, visiting both the southern French countryside and later going up north to Paris.
(Part of this included our road trip Provence also, so be sure to check out our posts dedicated to tips for visiting the Valensole lavender fields and our Paris tips for the first time visiting Paris!)
Even though we found many people in Paris spoke a bit of English and communicating was quite easy, it wasn’t so simple on our South of France trip.
Not as many people speak or understand English, so it is going to be IMPORTANT to grab a cheat sheet of basic French phrases and try to learn a few in advance.
I've created this quick cheet sheet with the phrases we used most during travel- just right-click the image to save it!
OR you can download this awesome cheat sheet with even MORE phrases from The Intrepid Guide's travel blog and save it to your phone for easy access during your holidays in South France. 😊
Southern France Family Holidays Tip #5:
The summer heat can get really hot in the late afternoon, so stay hydrated and sunscreened!
Whether you’re heading to the Southern French countryside or planning a road trip Provence lavender fields, BE SURE TO STAY HYDRATED!
It can get quite easy during the summer, but even in Spring and Fall the days can get warm and there is a LOT of beautiful sunshine- so make sure to pack extra sunscreen for mid-day reapplications and plenty of water.
We always bring our trusty hydration tablets to get the kids to stay hydrated and there’s lots of yummy flavors.
See our Must Have Travel Essentials post here for more info on why we love them, especially for our youngest who hates drinking water. 🤪
And sunscreen was a MUST during our South of France trip! Coming from sunny Valencia, Spain, we were surprised by the intensity of the sun even though we were further north!
We definitely deepend our tans during our holidays in Southern France, even with a few daily sunscreen applications.
Sun hats are also a definite perk to have on vacations in Southern France as well (or really anywhere that’s sunny, because hats are both cute AND protect from the sun).
Our Southern France Family Holidays Tip #6:
The rest stops are super fancy and very accommodating for kids!
This tip is great if you’re planning a Southern France road trip -BUT- it’s also super helpful to know if you’re planning family holidays in France and plan to drive to get around.
Rest stops are handy during long drives, but they are also helpful for giving your kids a break to play.
Kids get bored- especially if you’re traveling down to Provence to see lavender fields (or just exploring different areas on a Southern France holiday)- because driving gets monotonous for them more quickly.
The rest stops along the highways often have playgrounds and nicer outdoors areas for kids to stretch their legs.
In fact, of all the countries we drove through on our European road trip (Spain, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany), France had the NICEST rest stops of all of them.
Our kids wanted to stay and play longer every time we stopped somewhere.
It was a great way for us to break up all the driving during our Southern France holiday AND let the kids play, because there aren’t many playgrounds sprinkled throughout the southern French countryside. 😜
So we definitely suggest planning some extra time into your family France holidays just to let your kids play- especially if you’re going to be doing a lot of South of France travel and the kids will be stuck in the car a lot.
(One perk of family holidays with teenagers is that they often don’t mind longer car drives when they have mobile phones to keep them entertained!)
That’s pretty much all of our tips specifically for Southern France, but we do have lots of other posts for different tourist spots, so be sure to check out the rest of our tips for planning family France holidays.
And please comment below if you have more tips that we didn’t mention above! 🥰
Also, we have MANY MORE tips posts coming out from our summer European Road Trip, so make sure you signup for our newsletter to be notified when our next posts come out!
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