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Take the Family › Four French Adventures for Eco-friendly Families

Four French Adventures for Eco-friendly Families

By TakeTheFamily
Cagnes sur Mer.Cagnes sur Mer.

Air and road travel is a leading cause of climate change. But before you cancel the family holiday to save the planet, try taking the train instead. Train travel is the greenest way to get around Europe, and it takes you to more places than you might think. 

All the destinations in this article can be reached entirely by public transport from London. So if sustainability is at the top of your holiday wish list, visit one of these fabulous French towns.

Swapping the plane for the train this year reduces your CO2 emissions by 97%. But that’s not the only benefit of train travel...

• See more of places than you would by flying – train lines cross rivers, countryside and mountains and the coast.

• Arrive in town centres rather than out-of-town airports.

• Take more luggage free of charge.

• Make friends with fellow passengers.

• Visit more than one destination per trip – if your train connects in Paris stay the night and see the city!

Biarritz

CO2 by flying: 308.8kg

CO2 by driving: 44.3kg

CO2 by train: 21.5kg

Why you’ll love Biarritz

Its surf scene, consistent temperatures and sandy beaches lure thousands of visitors every year, yet Biarritz still retains its Basque traditions. Whether you need a course of lessons or just the kit, the surf schools and shops along the beach have got you covered. Many surf schools also run children’s lessons so they can experience the thrill of the waves in safety. The biggest waves hit in spring and autumn, and calmer waters between June and August create ideal conditions for beginners.  

A trip to Biarritz isn’t just about surf though: the town itself is full of markets, historical buildings and museums. The Cité de l’Océan teaches the whole family about the ocean through games and interactive exhibits.

How to get there

1. Eurostar from London to Paris

2. SNCF from Paris to Biarritz

Total journey time: 7 hours 44 minutes.

Where to stay

Biarritz has a lively nightlife, so many families choose resorts outside the city centre. Le Ruisseau is a 15-minute bus ride from the centre of Biarritz, and it’s got an on-site waterpark, five playgrounds and a mini farm. 

Guines

CO2 by flying: No suitable routes found

CO2 by driving: 8kg

CO2 by train: 6.6kg

Why you’ll love Guines

Guines is the perfect holiday destination for families who like to let nature be the entertainment. Just beyond the town centre you’ll find marshland and 8km2 of woodland to explore. Within the Forest of Guines is a section of woodland dedicated to the first people to cross the Channel in a hot-air balloon. Balloon Wood and a monument to the pilots mark the location where the balloon landed. 

If you’re feeling brave, take the 120m zipline across the forest at the Adventure Course. Smaller routes are available for young children and toddlers too so they don’t have to miss out on the thrill.

How to get there

1. Eurostar from London to Calais

2. Number 6 bus from Calais to Guines

Total journey time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Where to stay

Stay close to nature at La Bien Assise. Choose a spacious tent or a holiday home in the grounds of a château, with pools, a slide, and loads of space to play.

Cagnes-sur-Mer

CO2 by flying: 291.3kg

CO2 by driving: 48.3kg

CO2 by train: 22.4kg

Why you’ll love Cagnes-sur-Mer

Styles from across the ages converge in Cagnes-sur-Mer to create the perfect mix of seaside resort and historic French village. Find typical French glamour at the Polygone Riviera shopping centre, or wander down to the port to glimpse an older way of life. Cagnes-sur-Mer has a reputation for fishing going back centuries, and locals still head out to sea in traditional boats. 

Château Grimaldi is the centrepiece of the town, perched on the hillside in Cagnes-sur-Mer’s old town. Once home to Monaco’s royalty, it now houses several museums and a viewpoint across the city. And the best thing is children get in for free. Artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir also lived nearby, and his former home is now a museum of his work.

How to get there

1. Eurostar from London to Paris

2. SNCF from Paris to Nice

3. The regional train (TER) then takes you along the coast from Nice to Cagnes-Sur-Mer. 

Total journey time: 9 hours and 54 minutes

Where to stay

The higher up you go, the better the views. So venture just outside Cagnes-sur-Mer and stay at Green Park. This budget-friendly holiday parc has a pool, a bar and sports pitches on-site, and in July and August a shuttle bus takes you straight to the beach.

Sainte-Marie

CO2 by flying: 250.5kg

CO2 by driving: 47.3kg

CO2 by train: 22.0kg

Why you’ll love Sainte-Marie

Sainte-Marie is quieter than some of its neighbours on the Mediterranean coast, meaning you get more space to yourself on the beach. The 3km stretch of sand has a skate park, an outdoor fitness course and a nature reserve housing birds and plants. The horse-riding centre offers beach excursions on horseback too.

Away from the beach, look out for paintings on the town’s buildings that appear to be 3D objects. Can you find all 14 of artist Bernard Gout’s optical illusions?

Le Jardin d’Ariane is worth the walk or cycle outside of the town. These extensive gardens include the largest maze in the Roussillon region, a go-karting course, and giant outdoor board games.

How to get there

1. Eurostar from London to Paris

2. SNCF from Paris to Perpignan

3. Number 5 bus from Perpignan to Sainte-Marie.

Total journey time: 9 hours 43 minutes.

Where to stay

Camping de la Plage has direct beach access, pools, slides and a toddler pool for little ones, and an on-site spa if you need some me time.

Figures are for the volume of CO2 emitted for a one way journey. Car emissions are based on four passengers in a diesel vehicle. Source: Ecopassenger.org


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