It’s no secret that Provence and the Côte d’Azur is a European playground for chic-seeking families. Because what’s not to love? This area in the South of France boasts idyllic countryside, quaint villages, the sophisticated beaches of the Riviera and oodles of great tasting, locally-sourced food – plus with a flight time of just a couple of hours from the UK, it’s an easy escape when travelling with little ones.
Perched on a hill in Provence’s pretty countryside, Club Med Opio is just 30 minutes from Nice, Côte d’Azur Airport. If you’re not aware of the Club Med ethos, they are the pioneers of the all-inclusive holiday concept with 65 resorts worldwide offering luxurious yet value-for-money getaways for families – think gourmet food, open bars and unlimited activities delivered by enthusiastic G.Os (gentil organisateurs) – all without a shocker of a bill at the end.
With its Provençal-style architecture, sat among olive groves, pine forests and sweet smelling lavender blooms, the resort at Opio has 437 club rooms and suites clustered in bastide-style bungalows around the hotel’s gardens – all within easy toddling distance to the pool, restaurants, bars and activity areas.
WHAT TO EAT?
More to the point, what won’t you eat? There’s no limp spread here – the inclusive breakfast, lunch and dinner is varied, fresh and without-a-doubt delicious, and are all served buffet style which makes it both a laid back affair with little ones, and a test of your self-control (second helpings are very much encouraged).
At the stylishly decorated main restaurant, ‘Provence’, choose a table outside and tuck in while enjoying the panoramic views over the valley and mountains beyond. There are plenty of high chairs for tots and a dedicated baby corner for purees and milk warming. Even the fussiest of little eaters will be won over by the promise of pancakes for breakfast, the chocolate fountain for pudding and lip-licking choices from the ice cream counter.
Little ones aged four and above will love the jam-packed programme of play and learning that’s inclusive with a family stay. Arts and crafts, nature activities, mini tennis and junior golf are just some of the things they’ll get stuck into at the Mini Club which is open daily from 9.am–5.30pm and again at 7.30pm-9.00pm, for dinner and childcare should you want to eat sans children.
If you’re travelling with older siblings, the Junior Club will occupy 11-17 years olds with tween and teen age-specific fun too. Babies from four-23 months and tots ages two-three years can be booked into the Baby Club or Petit Club at an extra charge per half-day or full day, and evening babysitting is also available on demand. Without a doubt, Club Med Opio’s showstopper is the recently launched CREACTIVE – a huge circus playground designed by Cirque du Soleil. Here, children (and grown-ups) can experience over 25 acrobatic and artistic activities such as trapeze, trampolining, tightrope walking and juggling in a safe environment taught by Cirque du Soleil trained G.Os.
With the kids having fun at Mini Club, you’re free to sneak off for some R&R. Unwind at the Zen tearooms, take a treatment or two in the Carita Paris spa and relax in the Roman baths. When you’re ready for something more active (and to balance out that buffet), have a knock-about on the tennis courts, raise your heart rate in the fitness centre or join the daily aqua-aerobics session in the pool. There’s also archery to try and a golf centre with lessons from the pros and a 9 hole-course.
The resort is ideally placed to explore the timeless, glam appeal of Cannes and Nice. For families wanting a sea and sand fix, take a trip to the hotel’s private beach club at Mandelieu beach – facing the bay of Cannes. Stay for a seafood lunch, people watch from a lounger and paddle safely in the sea (daytrip is an extra charge). Back at the hotel, the tiny village of Opio is just 3km away with its traditional olive mill and 12th century church. The nearby town of Grasse is famous for its perfume production – there’s the International Museum of Perfume to sniff out – and perfect for a spot of Provençal shopping in its narrow, pastel painted streets.
Children under six years old stay free at Club Med. For current prices and resort availability (with or without flights), visit clubmed.co.uk