Tips to Prepare the Ultimate Rural Retreat in the South of France
Picture your ideal rural France holiday. Rolling hills, quaint villages, and sun-drenched vineyards. Pepper this with meandering rivers, crystal clear lakes, and the orchestra of chattering birds at dawn. It’s the magnetic charm of the countryside and culture of the South of France that pulls you here.
What awaits is no ordinary holiday, for this most idyllic region of Europe is like no other. But to ensure that you experience an unforgettable family vacation, planning and preparation are key.
What Makes South France Different from the Touristy Norm?
You’ve seen the hustle and bustle of Parisian streets. You’ve been tempted by the non-stop activities of Disneyland Paris. But is this the type of holiday that creates everlasting memories and helps forge the tightest of family bonds?
Rural France holidays offer something completely different. For a start, there’s the mesmerising splendour of endless green fields and tree-lined hilly horizons under an azure sky.
Then there are the hidden gems around every corner of peaceful country roads. We’re talking the bustling village markets, medieval towns lost in time, and secret shaded spots that are perfect for an afternoon siesta.
Oh, and don’t forget the joy of watching your children run wild and free in open spaces. You’ll never want to visit an overcrowded, over-commercialised, run-of-the-mill tourist attraction again.
So, without further ado, let’s look at how to plan your family’s perfect rural retreat in the South of France.
Way before you set off, you’ll need to start thinking about paperwork (zzzz!), how you’ll get to your destination, and what type of accommodation you’ll prefer.
Let’s kick off with the admin stuff first, then move on to the items that will help to make your holiday all you want it to be.
The Admin Corner: Visas, Insurance and Safety, Oh My!
Brexit has changed a few things about how Brits travel to the EU:
- You’ll need to ensure your passports are within date stipulations (all the info you need is on this government website page).
- From 2024, you also need a special type of visa to travel into the EU. This is called an ETIAS. Don’t worry, it’s an easy, online process and your ETIAS lasts for three years, at a cost of only €7. To learn more about ETIAS and apply online, visit the EU Travel -Europe website.
Of course, when travelling with a family, safety is paramount. So we’d also recommend that you acquaint yourselves with local emergency numbers and shop around for the best travel insurance options.
(Here’s a pro tip: keep digital backups of all your travel documents. This will help to relieve the paperwork stress that can distract from what should be a pleasurable experience from the moment you leave home to the day you return.)
Planning Your Route: Travelling from the UK to South France
When it comes to travelling to the South of France, there’s a myriad of choices.
A popular option for those visiting Country Kids is ‘fly/drive’. Book cheap flights and then hire a car at the airport (book in advance) for a stress-free journey.
If you fancy taking the ferry and driving to South France, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. The roads really aren’t like those in the UK. They are a pleasure to drive. You can take the fast route or the scenic route. Extend your holiday and enjoy all the scenery that France has to offer.
Or you can take a ferry from the UK to the south of France – now that is something a little different!
(Worried about the amount of luggage you’ll need to bring with a young family? You don’t need to be when staying as guests at Country Kids. Whatever your needs, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch and we’ll talk you through all we supply so you don’t have to haul.)
Where to Hang Your Hat: Cozy Farmhouses, Villas, and More!
Sit down with your family and discuss what type of holiday you want to enjoy.
Do you want to wake up in a rustic farmhouse, with the aroma of fresh croissants wafting in?
Do your kids want to be up and out, roaming about, making new friends, and feeding farm animals?
Would you like time to bond as a couple, knowing your children are safe from harm and free to explore nature and create new experiences?
Whatever you desire, South France is where you can make your wish list a reality. If you want to be near medieval towns or free to roam amongst nature’s marvels, you’ve come to the right place. And with a plethora of user-friendly platforms to search and book your ideal holiday location and abode, it’s a cinch to do!
(By the way, you’ll find that the location and accommodation provided here at Country Kids covers all the above, and more.)
When You’re There
Before you book anywhere, you should also give thought to what you want to do during your holiday and how you will travel around while there.
Getting Around: Local Transportation Sorted
A word of warning is needed here. If you plan to rely on public transport, remember that the more rural the location, the more expensive it will be. Taxis will charge to come to you and take you to your off-resort destination.
For this reason, we find that many of our guests rent a family car. However, if this is what you wish to do, you should acquaint yourselves with the local driving norms. Yes, we drive on the wrong side of the road (which, of course, is the right side of the road), but there are also little details that you’ll need to take note of. For example, you’ll need a couple of travel breathalysers in the car with you (they only cost a pound or two).
Culinary Experiences: Food Even the Kids Will Love
When you holiday in South France, you have the perfect opportunity to treat yourselves to sumptuous farm-to-table experiences. The quality of our local produce is second to none (you’ll get a feel for this as you drive through the country lanes).
You really must take the opportunity to treat your tastebuds at restaurants that fuse authentic French flavours with kid-friendly menus. If a tranquil picnic is your calling, stock up on local cheeses and baguettes, and find your idyllic spot to lay a blanket and eat out in nature.
(Have we told you about the local dishes you’ll want to replicate at home and the taste of the whole of France that we provide here at Country Kids? No? Then hop over to read our article ’11 Occitanie Foods You Will Love’.)
The Activity Rollcall: So Much More Than Sightseeing
There is plenty to see in the South of France, but creating an unforgettable family holiday is not only about revelling the wonders of the countryside. It’s about doing things together. Here are a few ideas:
- Explore local nature trails
- Get the kids involved in farm activities
- Take part in rural arts and crafts sessions
- Visit a local lake to enjoy a multitude of water-based activities
- Experience relaxing yoga sessions
- Relax by the pool
- Play a few games of Boules
- Go stargazing
- Explore the local surrounds by bike
- How about pony trekking?
The possibilities are endless, and without the crowds you’d experience in a commercial resort, you’ll be more relaxed and more able to enjoy every activity to the full.
(At Country Kids, we spend time with you to understand what activities you’d like to do, and then we take away all the planning pain from you – yes, we’ll arrange everything for you, so you can focus on enjoying every second of your time here. You’ll also find that pretty much all the activities that will make your family holiday exactly what you desire are available in our gated resort.)
Before You Go
Now, to the final preparations.
Packing Essentials: What You’ll Really Need
Knowing what clothes to take can present challenges. Perhaps the biggest of these is the weather, so investigate what the weather will be like before you pack!
Now, if you’re going on a rural adventure, you’ll also need to consider what equipment you may need. Snorkels? Hiking boots? Cycle helmets?
What about all those extras you need to take for the kids? Baby wipes. Nappies. Favourite toys. Their tablets?
(Of course, if you book an all-inclusive package at Country Kids, you’ll find that your packing list could reduce drastically, saving you space and stress.)
Getting By with the Lingo: Fun French Phrases to Learn Together
A foreign holiday is always better if you can talk the language, but it is surprising how little you need to know to make a difference to your experience.
Try turning language learning into a delightful family game. Master a few basic French phrases. Download a translation app. And never underestimate the power of a smile or a friendly hand gesture.
(You’ll be surprised how many words your kids could learn while at Country Kids, even though all our staff speak English.)
Get Set, Ready, Go!
All set? Before you set off, do a final sweep with this checklist, making sure that you’ve dotted all the ‘is’ and crossed all the ‘ts’:
- Visa and Paperwork:
- Ensure visa requirements for UK families are fulfilled.
- Keep digital backups of essential documents on a secure cloud.
- Familiarise yourself with local emergency numbers.
- Secure a suitable travel insurance option.
- Decide between flights, ferries, or a road trip.
- Research best airlines, nearest airports, and scenic ferry routes if applicable.
- Booking Stay:
- Find a cozy farmhouse or villa.
- Consider proximity to towns and natural wonders when selecting the location.
- Local Transportation:
- Decide between renting a family car or relying on public transportation.
- Familiarise yourself with local driving norms if renting a car.
- Dining and Food:
- Explore farm-to-table experiences.
- Locate kid-friendly, authentically French restaurants.
- Identify spots to buy local produce for picnics.
- Exploration and Fun:
- Plan your family activities.
- Map out nature walks and hiking trails.
- Schedule time for arts and crafts in the countryside and water activities.
- Packing Essentials:
- Pack clothing suitable for every season.
- Include kid essentials like baby wipes and entertainment tablets.
- Pack gear for rural activities like snorkels and hiking boots.
- Learning Basic French:
- Learn and practise basic French phrases.
- Download handy translation apps for on-the-go conversations.
- Familiarise yourself with common hand gestures to aid communication.
- Last-Minute Checklist Review
- Review the final checklist to ensure nothing is forgotten.
Want more information and tips to prepare for and book your ideal rural France holiday? Read these articles from the Country Kids blog:
- How To Have the Best School Term Holidays with a 3-Year-Old
- Countryside Holidays: 14 Fun Activities for the Whole Family
- Holidays with Childcare: Relax and Unwind While the Kids Have Fun
- Occitanie, France – The Perfect Holiday Destination for Children with Wine-Loving Parents
- Why Forest Bathing Has Huge Benefits for Families
- Travelling with Kids in the South of France for Family Holidays
Feel free to send us a message, too. We’d be happy to answer any queries or questions you may have.