4 family holiday ideas in Occitanie

Occitanie has it all, from beaches and mountains to countryside and cosmopolitan cities. This variety of environments is a great advantage, as families can either choose one or take a road trip between all four. Here are our highlights of this sunny region of France.

Beside the seaside

Travelling as a family is one of the most enriching ways of getting to know the world and sharing special moments with our children. And there's nothing better than doing it by the sea. Occitanie has 220 kilometres of unspoilt coastline, from the Camargue to the Côte Vermeille and the Spanish border. Kids can enjoy watersports, walks and playing in the sand, while parents can indulge in thalassotherapy, sunbathing and the excellent cuisine of the region's fishing villages. Children will be amazed by the horses, bulls and flamingos of Aigues-Mortes and adults will appreciate its exceptional architectural heritage, colourful streets and pink-toned salt marshes surrounded by a wild but preserved landscape. The Etang du Doul in the Narbonnaise Regional Park also offers ideal walks for the whole family, via a wooden footbridge over the water.

Up in the mountains

If you're craving the mountains, Occitanie boasts three ranges: the Pyrenees, the Cévennes and Aubrac, the latter two located in the Massif Central. In the Pyrenees, kids will love spotting the chamois, ibex and marmots: a walk with the National Park guards is a good way to discover the wildlife. Admire the Vignemale mountain from the Gaube lake, and the Pic du Canigó and the Pic du Midi, accessible by cable car.

One of the best ways of seeing the Cévennes as a family is by steam train, which leaves from Anduze and heads to Saint-Jean-du-Gard in the Gardons valley. The 154 menhirs of the Cham des Bondons, the second largest European megalithic site, the Villefort lake and the medieval village of La Garde-Guérin are some of the must-see places in the Cévennes.

Finally, Aubrac is a real paradise for hiking, horse riding and mountain biking, with over 600km of marked trails.

Green holidays in the countryside

Occitanie's countryside is full of beautiful spots and awesome activities. Take the family for a night-time paddleboarding session through the Tarn Gorges and look out for beavers and trout - or head to the Gouffre de Padirac, considered one of France's greatest geological sights, which can be admired by boat or on foot.

Water activities are popular here. In Occitanie's rivers, adrenaline hunters can go canyoning or tubing - while those who prefer a calmer pace can simply laze on the Pont du Diable beach. And, of course, a family mountain bike ride can be the icing on the cake of a country holiday. The paths of the Hérault valley are perfect for pedalling around.

Urban adventures

Occitanie boasts two major cities, as well as several medium-sized cities of interest. Toulouse has everything children need for an unforgettable getaway: they can be astronauts for a day at the Cité de l'Espace, discover the inside of planes at Aeroscopia, gawp at the precursors of aviation at the Musée de l'Envol des Pionniers and enjoy the Halle de La Machine, a modern hangar that houses an exhibition of magnificent machines.

Montpellier, on the other hand, is a thousand-year-old, dynamic and creative city that successfully blends ancient heritage with contemporary architecture. Kids love it because they can travel around on one of their favourite means of transport: the tramway. Montpellier is also a window to the Mediterranean as it's just 11 kilometres from the beach.

Finally, if you want to explore smaller cities with your family, try those known for their cultural significance such as Cahors, Nîmes, Carcassonne and Albi, the last two of which are classified UNESCO World Heritage Sites.