The Relais Royal Mirepoix courtyard
Chateau de Camon
Chateau Les Carrasses entrance
Hotel de la Cite
Toulouse's surrounding area is relatively unspoilt and perfect for luxury family holidays away from France's more crowded coasts. It is one of the least populated areas of the country and, yet, there is plenty to keep kids of all ages occupied – from animal parks and supervised swimming lakes to white-water rafting and skiing. France’s fourth city has a pavement cafe-culture with pretty squares, galleries, museums and more. The French have a strong culture of spending time together as a family, so little ones are usually welcomed just about anywhere; it's not unusual to see even very young children out with their families for dinner late at nigh
Chateau Les Carrasses
Chateau Les Carrasses offers self-catering apartments with a kid’s club, all within in a stunning 19th Century Wine estate.
Luxurious and extremely child-friendly, Chateau Les Carrasses mixes pampering surroundings with the flexibility of self-catering accommodation. There are 28 spacious suites, apartments and villas, which all offer stunning views, turrets, private gardens or terraces. Ten of them even have private, heated pools. On...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
Relais Royal Mirepoix
The Relais Royal, Mirepoix is a home-from-home type hotel in the mediaeval town of Mirepoix.
The Ariege’s one and only four-star hotel, this 18th century Relais and Chateaux property, still crammed with original features, was a private home until being lovingly converted by its current owners into the Relais Royal Mirepoix. Set around a pretty courtyard, each of the four rooms and five suites is totally...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
Chateau de Camon
Chateau de Camon is a luxurious, yet relaxed, chambre-d’hote in a fairytale castle
A converted Benedictine monastery complete with flagstones, winding stone staircases and enormous fireplaces, a stay at Chateau de Camon feels like stepping back in time. Each bedroom is totally unique and crammed with original features. Hosts Katie and Peter have young children of their own and really go the extra...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
Hotel de la Cite
Wake up in the heart of Carcassonne, a UNESCO-listed city, at the beautiful Hotel de la Cite
Hotel de la Cité is one of the few hotels actually within the walls of the mediaeval city of Carcassonne. This is always a huge hit with any kids who indulge fairy-tale fantasies, and means that you can explore the traffic-free Cité in relative calm before and after the crowds who tend to arrive during the middle of...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
43, Boulevard Barbes, 11000 Carcassonne
Just outside La Cité, it is well worth making the trip to the restaurant, L’Ecurie, which resides in a converted stables. Inside there is no mistaking its history, with tables set between horse stalls and horses’ names on the walls, but in the summer it’s nicer to eat outside on the shady terrace where there is also plenty of room for kids to run around. Food is well-presented and traditional to the area (so quite a lot of duck) and service can be a little slow – this is a place for a leisurely lunch rather than a hurried bite to eat.
La Ciel d’Or
8, Rue Marechal Clauzel, 09500 Mirepoix
At the Relais Royal’s restaurant, La Ciel d’Or, you can chose from a white-linened dining room with huge windows and quirky artwork or, in summer, have lunch or dinner in the shady interior courtyard of the hotel. The chef makes a real effort with the children’s tasting menu, aiming for a balance between the familiar and the new, encouraging them to try new things without alienating them. Despite the grand surroundings, children are very much welcomed rather than simply tolerated. Visit on Friday for the incredible value 20 Euro, two-course lunch (including wine).
Monsieur Georges, Toulouse
Monsieur Georges 20, Place St-Georges, 31000 Toulouse
On one of Toulouse’s prettiest squares, Monsieur Georges is on four floors and crammed with curios of all sorts, which will fascinate children. Menus are simple and unpretentious but delicious and beautifully served and include a very reasonably priced kids menu. Older children will love the high “bar stool” type tables on the ground floor but it’s maybe not the best place to take a buggy or very small children – however there is an outdoor terrace with a playground directly opposite.
Ferme ô Delices
Domaine des Oiseaux, 09270 Mazeres
Ferme ô Delices is a restaurant within a bird sanctuary so, while you eat, your kids can watch the herons, birds of prey and others swooping and nesting outside. It’s also a great place for a post-lunch walk. The children’s menu includes home-made burger beautifully served on a piece of slate along with fat chips in a little paper bag. The food is varied, seasonal and excellent and their “Cocotte Minute” menu (available lunchtime weekdays only) is amazing value.
Lac de Mondely
On hot days, visit one of the supervised swimming lakes such as Lac de Mondely (which has a cafe and a roped-off area for smaller children) or Lac Puivert (which has a playground), or take a trip out to the beach at Narbonne.
Les Bains de Couloubret
Older children might like to try whitewater rafting or a “Parcours dans les arbres” at Vernet. Whatever time of year you visit, don’t miss the Les Bains de Couloubret at Ax-Les Thermes – natural thermal baths with both indoor and outdoor pools where children over five (with ID!) are welcome.
There are several caves to visit (including Grotte de Lombrives, the largest in Europe), the Labouiche underground river and several animal parks including Ferme aux Bisons and the wolf park at Orlu.
Skiing in Toulouse
In winter, go skiing at Ax-Bonascre if you want a proper day out on the slopes or, for simply pottering around on the slopes with the kids, Ascou or Goulier are perfect. For sledging, don’t miss Plateau de Beille, which has a sledging slope and conveyor belt to take you back up – you can also ride a sledge pulled by huskies here or help build an igloo.
In an emergency, dial 112 or 18. French health care is excellent and there are good hospitals across the region including at Foix (+33 5 61 03 30 30), Carcassonne (+33 4 68 24 24 24) and several in Toulouse, the main one being Purpan (+33 5 61 77 22 33). Many doctors offer a drop-in surgery, and the numerous pharmacies are mostly excellent – they are happy to give advice or even patch up a minor injury. Be aware, though, that they are very unlikely to be open at lunchtime.
When to go
June to September are the best months weather-wise, so if you don’t have school-aged kids, these are an excellent time to visit. In July and August can be quite hot – if you are visiting during any these months, you will probably want to choose somewhere with a pool. In winter, the ski season usually runs from just before Christmas to around the end of March. Some attractions (such as some caves) are closed in winter.