Is the French Riviera too chic for a toddler? Emphatically non! This is the major vacation destination for the French, who are very family oriented. Families with small children are almost everywhere. And if you’re in the Bringing Up Bebe camp, then you believe that the kids are better behaved than you are, and that they eat everything at dinner but never snack. And it’s true that I didn’t witness any egregious behavior (probably because I was too busy minding my own toddler) when I was there last July, but I did witness snacking, a lot of snacking in all age groups. The French, they’re just like US!
We stayed in Antibes, which is a very family-friendly town, and one that I’d highly recommend for the littles. Part of what drew us to Antibes is that it has one of the few sandy beaches on the Cote d’Azur, and playing in the sand is one of the best activities for a two-and-a-half-year-old boy (and still is one year later). Juan Les Pins is next door to Antibes (technically it’s part of Antibes) and it also has sandy beaches. In fact, the beach there might be even better. But this is one of the pockets of the French Riviera that is too chic for a toddler. It’s full of lounge chairs and beach clubs, where they will bring you pizza or sandwiches with your champagne. But if you arrive at 10am and all of the party girls and boys are still asleep, your toddler can run around the shoreline between where the loungers stop and water starts. Because every single lounge chair will be empty for at least an hour or two, possibly longer. But by then, we were already leaving for the toddler nap, bidding adieu to the chicness.
Antibes has all of the old architecture — which I love — so I probably would have chosen to stay in Antibes even if my entourage didn’t include a toddler. Juan Les Pins architecture is more modern but nondescript, although the shopping more than makes for it. You can walk from Antibes to Juan Les Pins, if you don’t mind a 30-minute walk in the hot sun. There’s also the bus, but don’t rely on a cab or that cute trolley we would see everywhere except for when we actually needed it. A night out in Juan Les Pins would be fun though, as would day out. But leave the kids at home.