The Midi-Pyrénées offer some of the most stunning inland scenery in France with its selection of mountains, hills, lakes and rivers. At the centre of the region are the Pyrenees Mountains themselves, which straddle the boarder between France and Spain. The region has something to offer the whole family, whether you’re interested in adventures, exploration or just some relaxing in lovely surroundings.
The region’s capital is Toulouse, known for its university, aerospace industry and Romanesque St. Sernin Basilica, part of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route. The region is also well known for the famous town of Lourdes and the Grotto of Massabielle, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858.
Toulouse is a great town to visit and has some unique family friendly museums such as the Cité de l’Espace. The kids are bound to enjoy the life-size spacecraft, planetarium, IMAX cinema and the many interactive experiences. For more of a history lesion, head to Le Villages Gaulois – a quirky park celebrating the Gauls, the Celtic people who lived in the region prior to the arrival of the Romans. There are old-fashioned games and pastimes for the kids to play, alongside demonstrations from the staff in basketry, blacksmithing and weaving. Everything at the park, from the wooden carousel to the rowing boats is human powered and there’s plenty to keep the family entertained all day.
At Rocamadour, animal loving children will adore La Forêt des Singes, a park that’s home to around 150 Barbary macaques who are free to roam around the 20 hectare forest. There are plenty of guides around to answer questions and you can buy food for the macaques at the gate. Or take a visit to La Maison des Chameaux in Castelnau-Rivière-Basse, a countryside park where you can pet and groom camels, meet goats, sheep, hens and ducks or go for a walk with the camels or llamas and alpacas.
The region is full of lakes and rivers to explore but for younger children why not head to Quercyland in Souillac. This family friendly waterpark has different heated pools with varying depths and plenty of water slides! There are also pedal boats, trampolines, go-karts, mini-golf and a bouncy castle to keep the kids busy all day.
The easiest way to get to the region is by air. Fly to either Toulouse or Lourdes with a variety of airlines including EasyJet, Ryanair, British Airways or Air France. Alternatively, you can take the Eurostar to Paris and change onto a TGV train to Toulouse.
Family friendly campsites
Aveyron, Nant, Val de Cantobre
Camping Val de Cantobre campsite is set high in the hills, with fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. The site has a lovely swimming pool with water slides and a separate children's pool, and there's an excellent activity programme including football, basketball, volleyball and other team sports. You can enjoy an organised river trek or walks in the surrounding national park, before relaxing with a delicious meal in the converted mill.
Aveyron, Saint-Amans-des-Côts, Domaine des Tours
Camping Domaine des Tours is a small friendly campsite situated in a large green park with direct access to Selves Lake. There's a lovely lakeside beach to relax on, or why not try your hand at canoeing or paddle boarding on the lake? And the kids will adore the pool complex with its pools and waterslides - one of which even involves a rubber ring! The fantastic restaurant overlooks the lake and is the perfect spot to relax in the evening. The local area is well worth exploring, with the Cevennes National Park nearby and over 50 castles in the area!
Aveyron, Canet de Salars, le Caussanel
Camping le Caussanel campsite is set on the banks of Lac de Pareloup, where you can take a refreshing swim, fish or hire a canoe or pedalo. The site has a fantastic pool with water slides and stunning views over the lake from the terrace. In the converted farm building are a lovely bar and restaurant, which serves delicious local specialities. During high season there's a children's club and both parties and days out for teenagers.