Camping in France with the Kids
Our Top 10 Activities in the Centre-Val de Loire region
Camping in France is an excellent choice for a memorable vacation. Check out these top activities in the Centre-Val de Loire region that everyone will enjoy!
Imagine a vacation where you don't have to fight with your kids about putting their phones away because they'll be too excited to look at them.
While camping in France you and your family will discover why the rulers from the Middle Ages and French kings alike chose this region as the location for their most stunning cathedrals and castles.
From the rolling hillocks of Sancerre to the fascinating histories of Anjou and Touraine, Centre-Val de Loire is the perfect summer destination for an unforgettable family vacation.
Read on and start getting excited about all the awesome family-friendly activities you can do while you're on holiday in Centre-Val de Loire!
Top 10 Things to Do in Centre-Val de Loire
The area is perhaps most famous for its lush wineries and enchanting castles, the towns along the Loire river make up some of France's most romantic scenery. One imagines spending days strolling along cobblestone streets and basking in architectural glories and nights dining on French delicacies while sipping wine from a terrace.
Sounds lovely, but not exactly family friendly! Don't worry, there are a plenty of ways to enjoy Centre-Val de Loire's beauty with the kids in tow as well.
1. ZooParc de Beauval
Located in Loire Valley just a few kilometers from the picturesque town St. Aignan, is the ZooParc de Beauval, ranked one of the top ten zoos in the world, and is home to nearly 6,000 animals!
Your children will be awestruck as they wander through the African Plain environment where zebras, rhinoceros, and giraffe roam in an open enclosure.
The undisputed stars of the zoo are the giant pandas, the only ones that can be seen in all of France. And you better go soon, if you want to see baby Yuan Meng who was born in August 2017. The adorable baby panda gets bigger every day!
Be sure to check the schedule of performances on your arrival. The hour-long playful performance by the sea-lions is the perfect time to rest your feet and enjoy some laughs at the same time.
2. The Grand Aquarium de Touraine
Another must-visit for your little explorers is the Grand Aquarium de Touraine. Boasting a two million litre fish tank, this is the largest freshwater aquarium in Europe.
Follow the trail through the aquarium which takes you from the banks of the River Loire, through mangroves and even through a shark tunnel! You'll see some of the River Loire's largest species, catch sight of eels trying to glide by unseen and be awed by 15-metre long sharks swimming overhead.
Are your little ones the adventurous type? The aquarium even has a touch pool where you can stroke live carp as they swim by.
3. Chateau de Breze in the Loire Valley
We can't write an entire guide to Centre-Val de Loire without mentioning a few castles! But before you write the Chateau de Breze off as being just another castle, give it a second chance.
The castle was built in the Renaissance style, but with many medieval elements to keep it safe from attackers.
Construction on the castle started in the 11th century and its tagline is "A Chateau Under a Chateau", in reference to its underground fortress and underground passages.
For history buffs, the guided tour of the grounds is a must, but try not to get distracted by the chateau's impressive wine cellars!
4. The Villandry Chateau Gardens
While the castle itself is beautiful, the main reason to visit The Villandry Chateau is its stunning gardens.
Start by overlooking the gardens from above and then make your way down through the colorful vegetable garden, past the babbling canal. Stop for a picture in one of the magical, rose-covered gazebos and maybe even sneak a kiss to the horror (or delight!) of your little ones.
If possible, coordinate your visit to The Villandry Castle with the night of a thousand fires. The festival will take place on two weekends this year, July 6th-7th and August 3rd-4th. During this festival, thousands of candles will be lit and the spirit of the gardens comes to life. Don't miss this magical sight!
5. Chartres en Lumiere
A visit to the cathedral in Chartres is a must for those who love history, although we're not sure if the little ones will be as excited.
Chartres is best known for the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. Which was built between 1194 and 1220. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the organisation refers to it as the pinnacle of French Gothic art.
The Cathedral's beauty lies in its flying buttresses and nearly 200 stained glass windows. However, its fame is due to its famous relic, the Santa Camisa, the tunic that the Virgin Mary wore during Christ's birth.
But it is the festival that brings families in droves to Chartres. During the annual Chartres en Lumiere, 24 sites in the city center are beautifully illuminated and entrance is free to the public. Each program plays on a loop, so take your time exploring each performance.
6. Troglodyte Village of Rochemenier
You'll never hear your kids complaining about the size of their rooms after a visit to
The Troglodyte Village of Rochemenier. This is one of the most complete surviving cave villages. Part of the village that you'll visit was even converted into a museum in the 1930s.
At the entrance, pick up a map, and together with your family, wander through the twenty-room village and marvel at what life would have been like in these tiny homes. There's even a stunning underground chapel carved right into the rock face.
7. Ethni-Citi Troglodyte Dwellings
Another chance to view Troglodyte Dwellings is overlooking the river Creuse. In the middle ages, these caves became home for people who were trying to stay safe from the fighting all over France. At the time, Richard the Lionheart had built a fortress on the cliffs at St. Remy-sur-Creuse.
Later on, these caves were taken over by weavers who needed access to the streams that flowed through the caves. Finally, members of the French Resistance used it as a place of refuge during World War Two.
Some of the caves are actually still homes today!
8. The Chateau Du Clos Luce and Leonardo Da Vinci Park
Is there a burgeoning inventor or engineer in your family? Bring them to the Leonardo Da Vinci Park and let their imagination take flight.
Leonardo da Vinci spent three years at the Clos Luce from 1516 until his death in 1519. He moved there after being invited by King Francois the First and brought with him many of his notebooks as well as his most prominent artwork, the Mona Lisa.
Da Vinci had a great fascination with birds. This interest spilled into his later career as an engineer when he would analyze their movements.
Running Until the end of 2018, enjoy the "Leonardo da Vinci and Biomimicry" exhibition showing off the great inventor's observations and studies.
9. Loire Valley Markets
Markets are a way of life in small French towns, and a great place to feel like a local. Purchase some cheese and bread to nibble on with your family, and imagine what life could be like if you moved to one of these small towns.
Have your little ones practice their French and select out a new treat for them to try. Now, it's not just food that's available at these markets! Every Sunday in Aboise, you'll find a bustling marketplace on the bands of the River Loire. Along with sumptuous cheeses and fresh fish, you'll find flowers, furniture, handbags, and more!
In another area of the market, you'll find stalls with products from other regions. Many people travel in for the day and start with the market before moving on to one of the many exciting things to do in Centre-Val de Loires.
10. Camping in France
Camping is a comfortable and economical alternative to staying in hotels. Furthermore, it means you can travel with your vehicle which always makes life easier when you've got the little ones in tow.
Campsites in France have an array of amenities from swimming pools and tennis courts, to onsite eateries, laundry facilities, and even free WiFi.
Start Planning Your Summer Camping Trip Now
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