Kid-Friendly Provence: Spring Break Road Trip Rules

Spring Break Road Trip to Provence

Sunflowers and lavender fields— the Spring Break road trip to Provence started out as the girliest trip, my son said. I showed him—there’s always something to climb, throw, jump, or swim. We were gladiators one day and bullfighters the next. We spent long hours trampling over thousands of years of Roman ruins under the pale blue skies of southern France. The boys couldn’t keep up with this girl. Sometimes, you gotta let them know what girly means. Here’s the lowdown on our Kid-Friendly Provence road trip during spring break.

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Spring Break Road Trip to Provence

The planning for the Kid-Friendly Provence trip started out to be the girly-est trip I’d taken them on. My son confided in me when I told him what we were doing for spring break that year. However. Very early on, I realized the sunflowers and lilacs wouldn’t be in bloom until the summer, long after our departure. In hindsight, it turned out to be really pretty. But not really girly. Because of the massive architectures, rock tossing, climbing, and just the sheer amount of time we spent outdoors under the pale blue skies of Provence France walking the best Roman ruins outside of Italy.

It’s the ruins that make Provence so unique. The area began as a Roman Provence. And it’s these ruins that keep people visiting a thousand years later.

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Road Trip to Provence

Provence is not a city in France but a region. The beautiful hillside stone villages of Arles, St. Remy, and Les Baux. The lively seaside beaches and marshlands of the Camargue and Sts. Marie Sur la Mer. The coliseums, auditoriums, Pont du Gard, and the best Roman ruins outside of Rome in d’Orange and Nimes.

Our home for the trip to the Riviera was Arles Provence-Alpes Cote d’Azur. The drive to Arles took 8 hours. This time, I drove the BMW, and just like I thought, there were many tolls. We arrived at the cozy Hotel Porte de Camargue early enough to check in and get a quick survey of the city. We were the only guests at the motel, which initially felt a little creepy. But after a couple of days, we realized we had the run of the place. We had our little villa in the south of France.

Where we stayed: Hotel Porte de Camargue.

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We visited the remains of the amphitheater in d’Orange and ate ice cream. The boys kicked rocks under the Pont du Gard, a giant aqueduct that is largely still intact. I felt like a general inspecting the troops as I drove into the plane tree-lined streets of Saint Remy. Malik and I tried to gather the courage to join the locals while they played boule in a courtyard in the city of Saint Remy. We resigned ourselves to watch instead. The original plan was to visit the old Gallo-Roman village just outside the village, but once we got there we weren’t all that excited to go see it so we decided to walk around instead.

Please read all about Finding Our Temporary Home on the Croatian Coast with kids.

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Saint Remy

The picturesque, old village is protected by a circular 14th-century stonewall. A dolphin fountain trickles in the shaded square in front of a 16th-century old convent. Even though it’s the off-season, there is lots of activity, shopping, and places to eat— one of which was an ice cream salon. We sat there soaking up the late afternoon sun until it faded into the mountains on the distant horizon. The plan was to visit all the Roman architecture that remained in that part of the country. Most people don’t realize that the Romans conquered and held that area for a long time. They built aqueducts, coliseums, Amphitheaters, and government buildings that in many cases are smaller, but in much better condition than their sister structures in Italy. The French are very good at preserving their heritage.

Let’s take our kids to the French Riviera for spring break– here’s how.

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We stood on the fully intact floor of the Nimes Coliseum where the spirits of lions, tigers, and bears are a distant memory in the sand. I had hoped to show the boys the French bullfights that are still performed in that coliseum, but the season had ended the week before our arrival. The French bullfights are not “blood sport” like their Spanish counterparts and involve chasing the bull around the ring while trying to retrieve a flag from around its neck without being gored or trampled to death. It’s flag football with bulls instead of balls and the possible goring of course.

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We spent a day in the Camargue, a lagoon region located south of Arles, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone. We spotted the white horses (Camarguais) and black cattle that freely roam the marshlands. No one knows where the little, feral horses came from, although it is generally considered one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world. The Camargue horse is the traditional mount of the Camargue “cowboys” who herd the black Camargue bulls used in bullfighting in southern France. Unfortunately, we missed the season by a few weeks.

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Saintes Marie de la Mer

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the ‘Saint Marys of the Sea,’ is a small fishing village located on the south-central coast of Mediterranean France in the Camargue region. This beautiful town glimmers with sunshine and charm—so much so that Vincent van Gogh captured the streets and seascape of Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer.

Visit the monolithic Church of Three Saints, a stone Romanesque church that was built in the 12th century. That, plus museums and bullfight arenas, will stimulate your cultural yens. Savor fresh fish and plump shellfish at any one of Sainte-Marie-de-la-Mer’s exquisite cafes and restaurants.

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Les Baux

For a family-friendly adventure in Provence, consider visiting Les Baux-de-Provence, a picturesque village steeped in history and charm. As a devoted Amazing Race fan, you’ll appreciate that this village was featured in the first season of the show, setting the stage for an unforgettable experience.

Arriving at Les Baux, you’ll find yourself surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The village is nestled along a steep hillside, with rocky cliffs on one side and stunning views of the valley below. The ancient Chateau fortifications perched above offer a commanding vista of Arles and the Camargue, adding to the allure of this enchanting locale.

Exploring Les Baux with your family, you’ll discover its rich cultural heritage. With over 22 French architectural monuments dotting the landscape, from quaint door hinges to meticulously restored buildings like the hospital and chateau, there’s plenty to captivate both young and old alike.

What makes Les Baux especially kid-friendly is its interactive appeal. Equipped with audio guides available in multiple languages, children can engage in immersive learning experiences while indulging in playful activities like running, jumping, and climbing amidst the village’s historic wonders. It’s a place where adventure and education seamlessly blend, creating cherished memories for the whole family.

So, whether you’re tracing the footsteps of Amazing Race contestants or simply seeking a delightful excursion in Provence, Les Baux-de-Provence promises an unforgettable journey filled with discovery and fun for everyone.

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