Family Friendly

Our Family-Friendly section suggests some ideas from the very wide range of things for children and families to do in Provence.  For ease of reference, we are dividing the region into areas within roughly a 40 minutes' drive from Marseille and Aix en Provence.

Click here for guides to things to do with kids within Marseille and Aix themselves.

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The Château and Zoo at La Barben Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Aix en Provence Area

Knights at the Chateau de la BarbenNestled in lush countryside a half hour's drive from Aix and 15 minutes from Salon de Provence, the village of La Barben offers an enticing package for children: a Château and a zoo.

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The Campagne Pastré Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

Tree-top adventure park in MarseilleAn enormous park a short bus or metro ride from Central Marseille, the Campagne Pastré has something for children of all tastes and ages, from a tree-top adventure park and riding school to hiking trails.

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OK Corral Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

Thrill ride at the OKCorral, near MarseilleA cowboys-and-Indians themed family amusement park, OK Corral is set in a large pine forest between Marseille, Aix en Provence and Toulon.

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The Park of Giant Labyrinths Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Aix en Provence Area

Bouncy Castle at the Park of Giant LabyrinthsA 40-minute drive north-west of Aix, the Park of Giant Labyrinths (Le Parc des Labyrinthes Géants) claims to be one of the biggest permanent mazes in the world.

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The Palais Longchamp for Kids Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

The Planetarium and Observatory at the Palais Longchamp, MarseilleA pretty astonishing edifice in its own right, the Palais Longchamp also has a excellent range of family attractions clustered around it.

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Legend'aire Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Aix en Provence Area

Legend'aire children's park, Aix en ProvenceYou're in Provence with the children, and the weather is meant to be fabulous. But the rain is pouring or the Mistral is howling: what to do?

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The Parc de Figuerolles Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

Pony riding in the Parc de Figuerolles, MartiguesA great variety of family attractions are on offer at the Parc de Figuerolles, a huge 130 hectare / 321 acre park prettily set in pine woods and olive groves by the Berre Lake just outside Martigues.

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The Palais Omnisports Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

Kids at the Palais Omnisports, MarseilleThe Palais Omnisports is a very large covered ice-skating and skateboarding sports facility in the eastern suburbs of Marseille that hosts major league matches but is also open to children and total beginners of all ages.

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LudiQ' Land Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

Ludiq' Land children's play park, MarseilleThis large indoor children's play centre on the edge of Marseille opened in summer 2010, a few months after the very similar Legend'aire and Urban Kids, both in the Aix en Provence area. And, like them, it has been a great success for much the same reasons.

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The Préau des Accoules Children's Museum Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

The Harlequin show at the Children's Museum, MarseilleThe Préau des Accoules is a museum and exhibition space designed especially for children and housed in a beautiful old vaulted building in the Old Town: a former Jesuit college dating back to the 17th century.

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The Musée de la Moto Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

An exhibit from the Motorcycle Museum, MarseilleSome 250 motorbikes are on show in the Motorcycle Museum, an educational and enjoyable museum dedicated entirely to the art of speed, from early prototypes dating back to the end of the 19th century to futuristic racing machines.

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The Écomusée de la Forêt Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Aix en Provence Area

The Ecomusee du ForetIf you are looking for an alternative to the usual characterless American-style theme parks, the Écomusée de la Forêt (Forest Ecomuseum) could just fit the bill.

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The Little World of Marcel Pagnol Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

Santon playing petanqueHere's the sort of miniature world that kids love, with a unique provençal twist. Aubagne is famed for two things: the local clay and Marcel Pagnol, the author of Jean de Florette and the Marius-Fanny-Cesar trilogy, who was born there in 1895. These traditions combine in an engaging display of 200-odd clay figurines acting out scenes from Pagnol's life, books and movies.

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Cours Julien for Kids Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Marseille Area

Logo for the Elephant Rose cafeThe boho-chic Cours Julien quarter of central Marseille is a perfect place to explore with children.

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Charlie Travers, Time Traveller: Operation Cézanne Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Aix en Provence Area

Charlie Travers book coverThe pleasures of Aix en Provence - wine, art, history, culture - are mostly very adult ones. But a new book set in the city aims to bring Aix alive for children aged from 8 to 12.

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Aix by Llama Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Aix en Provence Area

A Llama in ProvenceIf your kids are reluctant to go hiking, here's an unusual solution: take a llama in tow. Not only will your companion allow you to pet, groom and stroke it, it will even carry your knapsack and picnic hamper (though you won't be able to ride it). And you can take a little swatch of its hair home as a souvenir.

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The Village des Automates Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Aix en Provence Area

Le Village des Automates near Aix en ProvenceMore than four hundred automata, or mechanical toys, are dotted around a very large wooded park in the Village des Automates, a pleasant destination for families with small children.

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Urban Kids Print E-mail
Family Friendly - Aix en Provence Area

Urban Kids indoor play centre near Aix en ProvenceUrban Kids is an indoor play centre aimed at children from nine months to 13 in Venelles, just outside Aix en Provence.

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Nouvelles

Saint Barbara's Wheat in Provence at ChristmasChristmas in Provence starts on 4 December! Read about Saint Barbara's wheat and other local Christmas traditions.

 

Saint Victor Abbey Marseille by nightNow in its 47th year, the prestigious music festival at Marseille's historic, beautiful Saint Victor Abbey continues until 5 December. Last concert: Christmas carols.

 

Provence olive oilProvence's festivals celebrating the season's new olive oil are on in the Alpilles and Aix. 30 Nov-15 Dec.

 

Santa ClausChristmas shopping in Marseille this year features fireworks on the Old Port, giant santons on the Canebière, mulled wine and cakes in the Old Town - and artificial snow on the rue Sainte. From 6 Dec.

 

SkiingHeading to the ski slopes? Here's how to get there from Marseille or Aix by snow bus or snow train.

 

Christmas on the Cours Mirabeau, AixProvence's colourful Christmas markets are opening for business. Find the best fairs and festivals in Marseille, Aix, Avignon, Arles and elsewhere.

 

Descente des BergersCount the sheep (there'll be plenty of them around) at the Fête des Bergers, or Shepherds' Festival, in Istres, on the Blue Coast. Sheepdog trials, sheep processions, a banquet (with roast lamb?) 29 Nov-8 Dec.

 

Rose wine of ProvenceStar billing: Miraval, the rosé wine produced by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, has just been named one of the top 100 wines in the world.

 

MSC SplendidaWe report from this autumn's Top Cruise conference about the new cruise routes from Marseille in 2014 and the latest developments in the city's booming cruise tourism.

 

Avignon fringe theatre festivalThe summer 2014 dates have now been confirmed for the Avignon "In" and "Off" Theatre Festivals.

 

CalissonsPuzzling over Christmas gift ideas? Here are our top five Provence-themed presents, all available to buy by mail order.

 

Claude Gazier paintingClaude Gazier's moody paintings evoke the smokey atmosphere of vintage film stills. La Ciotat, until 7 Dec.

 

Victoire Belezy as Fanny in Daniel Auteuil's Pagnol trilogyThe first two parts of actor-director Daniel Auteuil's new version of Marcel Pagnol's classic Marius, Fanny, César trilogy, set on the Old Port of Marseile, are now playing in UK cinemas.

 

Marilyn by Andy WarholWarhol, Hopper, Bacon, Magritte, Picasso, Delvaux: diary dates for some of the big art shows lined up for Marseille in 2014.

 

Henri Lebasque Nude Asleep on a BedWomen of Provence, as seen by male painters and by themselves, are the subject of a new show at the Musée Regards de Provence, Marseille. Until 24 Feb 2014.

 

Ballet Preljocac in Aix en ProvenceTake a backstage tour of the Pavillon Noir in Aix en Provence (14 Dec) or watch Angelin Preljocaj and the Ballet Preljocaj in rehearsal (10 Dec). These events are free.

 

Image from the film about the artist Pierre-Auguste RenoirNow available on DVD: France's entry for the Oscars is Renoir, a film about the artist's life shot in the Var near Saint Tropez.

 

Ceramic by Le Corbusier Ceramics, sculptures, tapestries, paintings - and erotic sketches: Le Corbusier was not just a revolutionary architect, as this must-see show at the J1 Hangar, Marseille, reveals. Until 22 Dec.

 

Lucien Clergue's photograph of Le Testament dOrphee in Les Baux de Provence Jean Cocteau's Le Testament d'Orphée was filmed in the Valley of Hell near Les Baux de Provence. A show of photographs by Lucien Clergue, in Les Baux, chronicles the shooting. Until 31 Dec.

 

Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong in Stephen Frears new filmThe disgraced Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong is the subject of a new film by the Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears, now shooting in the French Alps.