Children change your life! Fortunately that doesn’t stop you from going on holiday! How you travel and your holiday pace must be adapted a little according to the children’s age, but almost everything remains possible. Here is some practical advice to enable both parents and children to enjoy great family time together during their holiday in France.
With very few exceptions, there is nowhere in France that’s unsuitable for children, even for infants. Only high altitude can cause babies trouble. There is a wide range of possible destinations all year round. The following criteria can nevertheless help you choose:
Depending on the season, avoid areas that are too hot or too cold.
If you don’t have much time for your holiday, don’t travel too far and reduce travelling time as much as possible.
WHAT SHOULD YOU TAKE WITH YOU?
The temptation is to take everything you have at home, just in case. It’s worth remembering that you can find everything almost everywhere in France. In some destinations it’s even possible to hire baby equipment such as cots, bouncy chairs, prams, pushchairs and high chairs. The following are nevertheless essential to bring with you:
A few jars of baby food and some nappies to cover you for the first few days.
Two sterilisable plastic feeding bottles and one airtight box for storing formula milk powder.
A pushchair and a baby carrier if you’re planning to go walking.
Favourite toys, comfort blanket and dummy.
Baby wipes, paper tissues, towel and toiletries.
Easy to wash clothes for at least one week, with at least one warm garment and a water- and windproof one. A small blanket can also be useful.
If it’s going to be hot, take a hat, a t-shirt, sunglasses, sunblock and a water atomiser to refresh the child.
A small health handbook (sometimes given by the maternity ward) can be very helpful.
A small first aid kit to deal with first symptoms, short-term complaints and minor pains (thermometer, paracetamol, etc.) If the child is teething, don’t forget the appropriate medicine.
ON THE JOURNEY
A child can travel and even take a plane from the age of three weeks, although long journeys are more bearable from six months.
Reduced prices or free tickets are generally offered to babies and very young children on public transport (plane, train, bus). However, using your car is a good solution in terms of ease, comfort and independence.
Always have something to eat, drink and for nappy changing to hand.
Prepare games and books to occupy the child.
On planes, get the child to drink or chew something during take-off and landing so they swallow and unblock their ears.
On TGVs (high speed trains), make use of the dedicated baby area equipped with changing tables and bottle warmers.
In cars, use the appropriate carrycot or child seat for the child’s age. Avoid putting heavy objects on the rear window shelf. Travel preferably early in the morning or at night.
Bring anti-nausea medicine and sweets.
AT THE HOLIDAY LOCATION
Once you arrive at the holiday accommodation, it is good to get into certain habits:
Respect meals times as much as possible. If it is hot, don’t forget it’s essential to sterilise.
Don’t let your baby sleep on an adult bed because it could fall off.
Keep the same safety reflexes as at home: keep harmful products out of reach, turn pan handles inwards, store dangerous items away, unplug electrical devices, watch out for things that the child could suck, etc.
Holidays are for everyone and parents need to find the right balance to satisfy the whole family. Keep the following in mind:
Places that are too noisy or lively should be avoided for babies, who need a minimum of comfort and quiet.
Visiting museums and monuments should be kept to a minimum because children quickly get bored.
Walks should only be done at a reasonable altitude and should not exceed half a day.
On the beach, do not expose children under three to the sun. Make them wear a hat, a t-shirt, sunglasses, and apply a good children’s sun cream. Supervise swimming carefully and watch out for the dangers of immersion hypothermia. Get them to wear plastic sandals to avoid stings under the feet if they go into the water.
In cold weather, cover babies properly as their immobility makes it difficult for them to keep themselves warm.