Joanne O'Connor, The Guardian, June 19, 2014
Le Banquet, Les Eyzies, Aquitaine
The owners of this group of three Périgordine cottages set in beautiful riverside grounds have thought of everything to make life easier for parents: a large swimming pool and paddling pool for tots, a play area with swings and slide, a boules court and a games barn with table football, table tennis, pool, board games, books, toys and DVDs. Inside the cottages – which sleep four, five and six people – oak beams and sandstone walls are offset by 21st-century comforts such as satellite TV, DVD players and dishwashers. The prehistoric cave dwellings of Les Eyzies and the attractions of the Vézère and Dordogne valleys are on your doorstep, but you might find it hard to tear yourself away from this bucolic spot.
• From £595 per week for a cottage sleeping four, homeaway.co.uk/p7326
Le Logis du Pressoir, Villeneuve, Loire Valley
From the freshly-baked croissants delivered each morning by the local boulanger to the boules court, this former wine estate offers the quintessential gîte holiday in the region considered by many to be the most quintessentially French of all. There are four cottages to choose from, sleeping from two to six people, with ancient stone fireplaces, oak beams, terracotta floors and traditional country kitchens. But your kids will be far more interested in the heated pool, table tennis, tree house and football goals. The historic château towns of Angers, Saumur, Chinon and Tours, are within easy reach.
• From €500 per week for a cottage sleeping four, logisdupressoir.com.
Appartement Blanc, Marais-Oberkampf, Paris
Affordable family-friendly pads are hard to come by in Paris, which makes this pied-à-terre in a traditional 18th-century apartment block even more of a find. For more or less the same price you'd pay for a poky room in a Parisian hotel, you get an open-plan kitchen/dining room, a master bedroom with doors to a private terrace, a twin room and a small shower room. It's simple and quirky rather than luxurious, but the white walls and floorboards and floor-to-ceiling windows give it a bright, airy feel. The location, in the 11th arrondissement, with the Place de la République at one end of the road and the Bastille at the other, is spot on and there's a good choice of bistros, bars and boulangeries within strolling distance.
• €165 a night, i-escape.com
La Mare Chappey, Manche, Normandy
Just 20 miles from the ferry port at Cherbourg, this collection of cottages in the grounds of a 16th-century manor house is perfect for a hassle-free family holiday. The two most recent additions to the estate are Bumpkin and Puddle cottages, converted from an ancient farm building with thick stone walls and beamed ceilings. Bumpkin has two bedrooms, while Puddle Cottage has three, but both have open-plan lounges, two shower rooms each and contemporary Shaker-style kitchens – though if you want a break from cooking, you can take breakfast or dinner in the manoir's bistro. Along with a comprehensive list of baby and toddler gear, there's a heated outdoor pool (fenced), a hot tub, an indoor play area and five acres to roam. Walk into the pretty local village for croissants or head for Normandy's Blue Flag beaches, less than a 15-minute drive away.
• From £656 per week for Bumpkin cottage which sleeps up to four plus two infants, babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk
Le Mas des Oules, nr Uzès, Languedoc-Rousillon
Le Mas des Oules is proof that family-friendly and stylish can co-exist happily. Historically, this was the farm and winery of the château of Saint-Victor des Oules, but it's been sympathetically converted into eight houses and apartments (sleeping from two to six people) by its British owners Emma and Michael Crane, who moved here with their young family in 2012. The fresh, contemporary decor – all cool whites and soft greys – makes a refreshing change from the heavy, rustic look typically found in French gîtes. Stock up on fresh produce at the renowned Saturday market in Uzès and spend long, hot afternoons around the infinity pool.
• From €780 per week for a house sleeping four, lemasdesoules.com
The Rustic Retreat, St Antonin Noble Val, Midi-Pyrénées
The good life with a Gallic twist is what you get when you step into this charmingly ramshackle old shepherd's house. It's the kind of place where children can run wild, collect eggs from the free-roaming chickens and pick veg from the organic garden. It's owned by artists and the interiors are bohemian and homely rather than slick, with lots of ceramics, rugs and artworks, and a gorgeous shady veranda which runs the length of the house with views across the valley. There are plenty of walking and biking trails leading from the house or you can follow the river down to Cazals, where you can swim and picnic on the riverbank or hire a canoe. The lovely medieval town of St Antonin is just 10 minutes away. If you want to digitally detox your kids, this is the place to do it.
• From £400 per week, sleeps four, sawdays.co.uk/france
Douce Quietude, nr Saint-Raphaël, Provence
The Côte d'Azur in high season is notoriously expensive: one way round this is to book a mobile home on a campsite. Not only does it work out cheaper than a private villa, but there's more on offer for the kids, with a choice of swimming pools, water slides, archery, mini-golf and kids' club on-site. Douce Quietude is one of the better sites in Provence, lively but not too raucous and with a great location in the hills above the seaside town of Saint-Raphaël, and a 10 minute-drive from the lovely beach at Agay. The mobile homes are dotted among pine trees and have two or three bedrooms, with the option to pay extra for units with more space, air-conditioning, a TV or a dishwasher.
• From €1,050 for a week in July in a mobile home sleeping up to six, douce-quietude.co.uk
Le Bois Cudrais, nr Combourg, Brittany
There's a relaxed holiday feel as soon as you pull up at this little hamlet of stone-walled gîtes, a 40-minute drive inland from the famed beaches of Brittany's Emerald Coast. The swimming pool, with its cute cafe/bar, is the social hub of the complex, which comprises four cottages, a small campsite and children's play area. There are ducks, goats, geese and chickens to feed and lots of woodland walks from the site. The cottages are kitted out in a rustic and homely style, with granite fireplaces, tiled floors, wood-burning stoves and simple kitchens. The friendly owners Claire and Philippe can point you to nearby castles, zoos, aquariums and beaches.
• From €320 per week for a gite sleeping four, vacancebretagne.com
Le Clos des Vieux Moulins, Ile de Ré, Charente-Maritime
The Ile de Ré is one of France's most desirable holiday destinations, so you'll need to book well in advance if you want to bag one of the 16 apartments at this attractive holiday complex. Le Clos des Vieux Moulins opened two years ago in the harbourside village of La Flotte en Ré. The apartments – in whitewashed houses with green shutters and terracotta roofs – sleep between two and six people, and are kitted out in a breezy, contemporary style and come with a private courtyard. Best of all, you can leave the car behind: the village centre and market is a five-minute walk away and the island is criss-crossed by cycle tracks (there's a secure bike shed on site).
• From €690 per week for a two-bedroom villa sleeping up to six, leclosdesvieuxmoulins.com
Les Datchas Lodges, Labaroche, Alsace
On France's eastern border with Germany, the Vosges mountains, with their distinctive rounded summits (known as ballons), are the perfect destination for outdoorsy families, with miles of walking and biking trails to explore and pristine lakes for kayaking and swimming. In the little mountainside village of Labaroche is this beautiful log cabin divided into two cosy-but-stylish apartments, sleeping four and six. Inspired by the traditional architecture of Polish summer houses, or datchas, the owners have kitted out the apartments with real flair: rustic wooden furniture, sheepskin throws, woodburning stoves, luxury bedlinen and bathrooms. A sauna is in the pipeline, making this the perfect mountain hideaway.
• From €780 per week, for an apartment sleeping four, datchas-lodges.fr
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
This article was written by Joanne O'connor from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.