There are unlimited amounts of things to do with children in this area, from beaches to parks and museums, with lots of great camping grounds in all price ranges (the French version of a holiday home/camping/vacation park). Most larger French towns will have a beautiful old carousel, good public parks and public pools.
We do big weekend day trips and my bag usually has sunblock (even in winter), hats, snacks, wet wipes, and bottles of water.
BORDEAUX has a lot of great museums, the one which kids are bound to enjoy is the Cap Sciences museum. There are activities about nature, space and the world of science for all age groups. Tickets can be bought in advance / Prices vary depending on which exhibition you want to see and any ateliers (workshops) you would like to do / Open in the afternoons daily, check online for exact hours / Hangar 20, Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux / +33 (0)5 56 01 70 70 / Cap Sciences, CCSTI de Nouvelle-Aquitaine à Bordeaux (cap-sciences.net)
Keep an eye out for the workshops (ateliers) at the Musee Beaux Arts, or fine arts museum, in Bordeaux. These are generally offered in French, but what a great way for your child to pick up some French words and create a piece of artwork like a clay animal or watercolor / +33 (0)5 56 10 25 25 / firstname.lastname@example.org / Le site officiel du musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux (musba-bordeaux.fr)
The first Sunday is family day at the Opera, with musical concerts and events focused on children. Book well in advance (at least a month) and get seats downstairs if you are not a fan of heights (the best seats are ground level to the side of the stage) / Book online or call +33 (0)5 56 00 85 95 / Place de la Comedie, 33025Bordeaux / Opéra National de Bordeaux (opera-bordeaux.com)
Outside of Bordeaux:
Seriously, between all of the lakes and Atlantic coast, in the summer you’ll find a beach to go to. The lakes are great for small children because you don’t have to worry about waves and they often have nice sandy shores for relaxing. Bring an umbrella, towel, sunblock and toys, and look online for beaches with a lifeguard stand which can be found here.
Nearly every department in Aquitaine has an Atlantic coast beach with a nearby lake with sandy shores. In GIRONDE you have Arcachon beaches with shallow waters and low waves, zoo (where you can feed the giraffe), aquarium, and carousel is a great place to bring the kids! Further inland, at Hostens, is a man-made lake and hiking trails which is also wonderful with children.
In the LANDES you will find two ocean and lake locations, Biscarrosse or Mimizan, both of which are great with kids. Both Biscarrosse and Mimizan Plage (ocean beaches) offer town centers with shopping, restaurants and ice cream, although I would say that Mimizan is the more updated and ‘hip’ option, while Biscarrosse is the more laid back option (from my experience).
PYRENEES-ATLANTIQUES has the beaches that are appreciated by surfers from all over France, but if you are looking for calmer kid friendly beaches you can visit Saint Jean de Luz with its sheltered bay and nearby Fort Socca and Ciboure, with its sandy inlet. Check out our post on Pays Basque for more information Pays Basque, France – Aquitaine Travel Guide.
Once you are more inland, by LOT-ET-GARONNE you will have lakes, like the one at Casteljaloux called Lac de Clarens which is only open for swimming in high summer but also has water toys, a park, boat rentals and a casino. There is nearby horse riding and Casteljaloux is a spa town so you’ll also find thermal spas to visit in the winter.
DORDOGNE is a massive department that we always seem to visit in the autumn so we don’t have personal experience with swimming there. There are, however, plenty of natural lake and riverside beaches, as well as public pools. The riverside beach in the small historic village of Gluges on the Dordogne River looks idylic. There are even lifeguards in the high summer months of July and August.
PYRENEES-ATLANTIQUES – In the winter, there are great places to ski in the Pyrenees, usually with thermal spa experiences as well. Our personal favorite is Saint Lary Soulan but you can look into Castets and Gourette as well to start. Most resorts will offer kids skiing classes, you can requester for in advance at Ecole de ski Pyrénées | Cours de ski Pyrénées [N’PY] (n-py.com) You can check out our post on some of the best places to skiing with children Skiing in the Pyrenees – Aquitaine Travel Guide
LANDES – Ecomusee de Marqueze has a river, animals, train into the grounds and plenty of interaction with the actors portraying life over a hundred years ago. There are multiple choices for on site restauration, but also a space for picnics / Closed in Winter, Open April-November / Route de la Gare, Sabres, Landes / +33 (0)5 24 73 37 40 / Écomusée de Marquèze à Sabres dans les Landes (marqueze.fr) – You can read more in The Landes in Aquitaine, France – Aquitaine Travel Guide
MARITIME-ATLANTIQUE – Salt Museum on Il d’Oleron – Le Port des Salines is a great way to discover how salt is made, buy some, and even have a lunch of oysters on the water. The traditional colorful shacks are so charming, just be careful during wet weather or your kids might end up looking like Peppa Pig (personal experience!). / Open April-November / 4.50 EURO for adults and 3.70 EURO for kids / Le Port des Salines | Un site des Echappées Nature. Partez à la découverte des marais salants de l’île d’Oléron (port-des-salines.fr)
DORDOGNE – Every time we have been into Dordogne this place is closed, but we really look forward to vising The Parc Bournat, which is a living history museum where people live like they would have in 1900 in Dordogne / Open July and August, daily from 10am-7pm / Buy your tickerts online, Adults are 15 EURO and Children over age of 4 are 10 EURO / 191 Allee Paul-Jean Souriau, 24260 Le Bugue / Parc Le Bournat – Une journée en 1900 en Périgord – Parc à thème
Getting into the countryside and visiting farms are also a great way to spend time outdoors and give your children time with animals. Not all farm visits are perfect for children though, so here are some of my favorite farms to visit with kids :
GIRONDE – Asinerie in Gans – Sandrine always dreamed of having donkeys and she has created her own donkey haven where she uses their milk to make soaps and cosmetics. Visits are organized on multiple days a week but at very specific times to corollate with the milking of the animals, so be sure to check online for times / Open Wednesday afternoon year round and more days during summer / Adults are 4 EURO and kids over 3 years old are 2 EURO / Gans, Gironde / +33 (0)6 16 94 83 37 / Accueil (weebly.com)
Ok, so it’s not animals, but if you want to take your children to pick fruits, this farm is great! Especially for those of us who love blueberries! / Open April-September / Lieu dit Saint Henri, 33470 Gujan-Maestras / +33 (0)5 56 66 94 01 / Ferme Saint-Henri – Accueil
Which child doesn’t enjoy a pony ride? These are often available in farms nearby, the club we go to in Bazas (Gironde) is The Poney Club Bazas. Individual rides average around 12-20 EURO and are usually cash only / Book in advance / Lieu dit Garlope, 33430 Bazas / +33 (0)5 56 25 98 63 / Balades | France | Poney Club de Bazas (poneyclubbazas.com)
Ferme Urbaine des Iris is located on the right bank and has ponies, sheep and goats that your children can pet, / Open daily, check online as hours vary / Pole Territorial Rive Droit, 1 Rue Romain Rolland, 33310 Lormont / +33 (0)5 57 77 63 40 / https://www.lormont.fr/decouvrir/nature-et-patrimoines/ferme-urbaine-des-iris-364.html
Kids will have a great time at Domaine Ecoline has ateliers, half and whole days where they can learn farm life and animal care, pick your own produce and pony rides! / Kids over 2 years of age are 5 EURO and Adults 6 EURO / Check hours online as they vary by season, but it is open year round / Lieu dit Joyeuse, 33670 Sadriac / +33 (0)6 10 13 26 81 / email@example.com / https://www.domaine-ecoline.fr/
LOT-ET-GARONNE Cows, chickens, pigs and rabbits all call the Chaudron Magique home! You can give bottles to the baby goats, milk goats, make cheese and bread. Plenty of ateliers as well as organized picnics and an site shop / Lieu diet “Des Perrets”, 1219 Route de Brugnac, 47260 Brugnac / +33 (0)5 53 88 80 77 / firstname.lastname@example.org / Open for visits everday during summer, check hours online / https://www.chaudronmagique.fr/
LANDES At Camdelan, La Ferme Fantastique you can take herbal and plant ateliers to make bames or prints, learn about old medicinal plants, and visit with the pigs, goats and sheep / Hours vary during the year, check online and make reservations in advance / Kids over age of 2 are 5 EURO and Adults 7 EURO / 3792 Route de Contis, 40170 Saint Julien en Born / +33 (0)7 68 67 72 66 / CAMDELAN
What trip to Bordeaux isn’t complete without a vineyard visit? Nicolle Croft of SIP by SIP wine tours has a great post on where to go and what vineyards to see with kids https://www.zoepetit.com/post/family-friendly-wine-touring-through-bordeaux
Dining Out :
Kids meals are offered at almost all restaurants, and you might even find yourself in envy of your toddlers duck-fat fries and entrecote for 10 EURO. A coloring book or something to amuse children during lunches can be a great help, as will their lovely (doudou) when lunches take longer than in the USA. Make reservations in advance when possible (try using The Fork online). Notify the staff if you will have a stroller, as indoor spaces can be really tight. If they have booth seating (banquette) take that, as it will usually be easier to keep children contained versus individual chairs. When you order, specify if you want to have the kids meal asap or wait until everyone is served, otherwise you might have the kids meal with your drinks and they’re ready to leave before you’ve received your food. Getting bottles warmed is also generally easy, or a side of mashed vegetables for younger toddlers.
On public transportation, small children under five years of age can ride for free, but you will need a ticket for older children. The tram and bus are relatively easy in Bordeaux with strollers.
While the law requires children to be in a child seat while in taxis, the likelihood of the taxi having one is slim and is often ignored. Try ordering an UBER and request a child seat, or travel with a backpack/seat like this trunki model (we use this).
A lack of public toilets might have you making a dash behind bushes with small children, which (at least if you’re American) feels really wrong, but is actually generally tolerated.
In general children under the age of 2 will be free and those over 12 will be considered adults for pricing purposes. Be sure to bring cash, as many places do no accept credit cards.
Helpful links :
Be sure to check out Bienvenue a la Ferme for farms that offer visits, meals and stays at locations near you!
Events for all over Nouvelle Aquitaine will show on this site Gironde – Agenda Pour enfants (eterritoire.fr)
Check with the local library for weekly activities for kids, they also often have a nice section for kids to play if you need a break! Look for bibliotheque, mediatheque and polydere (all used interchangeably for library). For example, this is the library in Bazas and the mediathque activities for kids in Bordeaux.