When visiting Paris on a family holiday the ever popular and highly acclaimed Euro Disney is often the first place which springs to mind. There is however, an overlooked lesser-known hidden gem called Parc Asterix which is inspired by the iconic French comic series "The Adventures of Asterix". Much quieter than Euro Disney meaning less queuing and elbow prodding, a godsend to any parent who has has experienced hours of queuing with very grumpy, bored children! The children loved it, especially my eldest who found himself able to enjoy a much vaster selection of rides than in other parks, a result of less stringent height restrictions. We all thoroughly enjoyed the shows, the performing dolphins being a firm favourite.
My husband underwent a nostalgic journey in Galois Village enjoying all the characters displayed in such a vivid way.
Personally, I favour Parc Asterix very highly above the popular alternative. Quieter, cheaper and oozing character, with a unique quirkiness so often absent from the larger, highly commercialised amusement parks.
For those who want to indulge in a fun family day out and experience theme parks done the French way - Parc Asterix won't disappoint.
In this sunken outdoor courtyard, you can bask in the Parisian sunshine and drink refreshing mint tea whilst admiring the Morrocan tiling that surrounds you. The constant stream of birds sweeping through and landing on the tree growing in the centre of the courtyard will make you feel as though you have discovered a secret piece of tranquil Marrakesh in the middle of Paris. I'm 16, and I would recommend this for a family outdoor trip in Paris.
Even when the castle buildings are closed to the public during the winter months Knaresborough castle is still worth a stroll around if only for the views of its famous railway viaduct and river Nidd gorge with Knaresborough perched on its cliff high above the Nidd.
A source of free drinking water and a historical reference to Ripley's history all in one.
Ripley Castle is set in a beautiful landscape with its own lake and waterfall. For the best view of the castle take the path signposted for the deer park, walk past Eel tower and pause at the bridge over the waterfall to admire the castle in its all glory as it is reflected in the lake's water. The friendly tour guides provide a thorough guided tour of the castle itself sharing stories about its bloody English civil war connections. The gardens are well tended, colourful and child friendly.
This small but very informative museum is well worth a visit as it teaches you lot about Filey's vital fishing and tourism heritage. The museum volunteers are really friendly and will happily explain about the wide range of exhibits and more. There is a £2.50 entry fee
It is almost that time of year again for barge loads of sand to float down the Seine and transform the riverbanks of Paris into an urban beach. Beginning on the 20th July and lasting for one month, the Paris Plage offers the complete beach experience … almost. The creators don’t seem to be fazed by the lack of sea as they put together what could be best described as a caricature of a beach, complete with palm trees, over-sized deck chairs, ice-cream sellers and beach volleyball. The latest addition to the beach at Bassin de la Villette offers free pedalos and rowing boats from which you can float along and enjoy the games of pétanque, giant sand castles, free concerts, and everything else that’s going on beside the Seine-side, beside the Seine!
Pont Neuf to Hotel de Ville (right bank of the Seine), Bassin de la Villette
Google map: bit.ly/LwXCYr
Enjoy an unrivalled view of the still magical Pompidou Centre from the cafes and wine bars opposite, as the external escalators whisk visitors to the top. Or people-watch the many hundreds who throng the square every day from the cobbled slope at one end, itself always packed with people of all nationalities. Better still, buy a baguette and sit on the edge of the pool in the adjacent place Igor Stavinsky and follow the progress of the zany, multi-coloured, mobile statues and fountains, all linked to works by Stravinsky, as they spray their water everywhere. Fun for the children and a delight for adults too.
Piazza and place Igor Stravinsky outside the Pompidou Centre in the Beaubourg.
Google map: bit.ly/NC8Tsg
Parc des Buttes Chaumont is one of the more spectacular public gardens of Paris, perfect for a family adventure. An early example of successful land regeneration, it was sculpted from an abandoned quarry in the 1860s. The park is full of follies: an island, a lake, a grotto, waterfall and two bridges. But its pièce de résistance is the Romanesque gazebo set on top of a rocky crag. The grand view to Sacré Cœur across the rooftops of Paris is worth the steep climb.
1 Rue Manin, 75019 Paris, France
+33 1 42 08 08 37
Metro: Buttes Chaumont, Laumière or Botzaris
Opening times - All year, Daily, Open 9am to sunset
Admission - Free
Google map: bit.ly/KbEo8V
Paris parks, gardens and squares and their surroundings are the best way of tracing the city’s social and architectural history while providing variety and interest. Older, more formally designed parks tell of Paris’s wealth or otherwise and more recent parks have been created on former railway lines, abbatoirs and car works. Look out for fantastic statuary, false cliffs, magnificent trees, beehives, original children’s play areas, cafés, fountains, and small allotments. There’s plenty of seating and wi-fi if you need them! Take Lonely Planet’s Paris Nature by Lisa Garnier and Nassera Zaid (in French).
This historical building is the perfect retreat from today's hectic rat race. Goodrich Castle is reached by a gentle walk through the perfect English village complete with old -fashioned Post Office-cum general store and fine fayre pub. At 200 paces, the River Wye provides excellent canoeing for the more active visitor. Further afield, the Forest of Dean serves up a range of outdoor activities. The tranquility of the Priory complements whatever your day has brought. The self-catering appartments furnished to a very high standard with log fires make the perfect ending to your physical days - they even take dogs.
And not an air-mile in sight, so even your conscience is at peace!
Jumping Jenny's doesn't just claim to be the best but it is. As every cake mouthful melts you instantly HAVE to have more. Be it a cool or warm day, a cup of tea in proper china hones the taste buds for more delicious cake - oh if you insist. All supped and enjoyed while watching the vapor trails from National Trust's steam yacht Gondola which has just deposited you at the jetty below, dissipate to reveal the most fantastic view of Coniston and the Lake District mountains.
Yummy sandwiches, cakes and scones up in a treehouse - what more do I need to say? Fanny's Farm Shop has several quirky teasheds and a delightful treehouse (which has to be booked) for birthday treats or a lazy Sunday afternoon. The surrounding pretty gardens are rather cluttered with signs but the huge slices of Victoria sponge and thrill of high dining between the branches make it worth the trip. At the shop, you can buy farmhouse treats, including marmalade sausages! Cream teas, packed in organic popcorn for the birds, can be ordered by post.
An Clachan is everything a cafe should be. Set in a (previously unloved) section of the beautiful Kelvingrove Park, An Clachan has really lovely home made cakes (the best chocolate chip cupcakes I've had), hot and cold food (again, home made), good coffee, great welcoming staff and healthy snacks and drinks for children. It's even near a small play park, and believe me, good coffee and kids play areas are rarely found together.
Stunning azaleas and rhododendrons on the edge of Dartmoor. Tea room housed in baronial style old billiard hall. Chat to the friendly owners about the 150 year history while enjoying tea in china cups and delicious home made cake. During autumn season homemade soup served as well, by the log fire. Great for families (kids trail and woodland paths), disability access to tea room and terrace.
Ulverston, a charmingly pretty market town at the southern tip of the Cumbria Way in the south Lakes, but not so charming on a cold, wet, gloomy Sunday at any time of the year. Thank goodness then for Gillam’s Tea Rooms in Market Street, a sanctuary for the damp and disorientated. Warm, steamy (on a wet day) and always welcoming, Gillam’s fayre includes the best selection of afternoon teas and the most indulgent welsh rarebit you can imagine. But best of all is the children’s afternoon tea, served on its own tray with a small-person sized tea set. Take the kids … but don’t tell a soul!
Vypeen Island is a long thin piece of land caught between the Arabian Sea and Kerala's inland waterways. Following the coast from Kochi northwards, it is laced with canals and lakes, groves of palm trees and colourful houses. The scenic bus ride to Cherai beach would be an engaging way of seeing a little further beyond Kochi if the drivers didn't feel it their duty to get you there faster than the speed of sound. Go there during the week when it is less likely to be rammed with tourists, or take an auto-rickshaw for the day and slowly make your way to much less crowded Kuzhippily beach.
Vypeen Island, Kochi, Kerala
Google map: bit.ly/LczYCh
Beloved by all photographers, Kerala's elephant temple festivals are world renowned. Thrissur has the granddaddy of them all in April/May, when the festival of Pooram is celebrated. Not a time to visit for the faint-hearted—you will need stamina and sunblock, and feel comfortable in loud sweaty crowds of excitable worshippers.
But Thrissur is an interesting day trip for anyone staying in Kochi at any time of the year. It's a pleasant introduction to Keralan town life: not too busy, dusty or crowded, and small enough to walk round in a day. The two hundred-year-old Shakthan Thampuran Palace is now an elegant archaeological museum set on a hill among painstakingly landscaped gardens. The building was closed for refurbishment at the time of my visit, scheduled to re-open 1st April 2012 (but don't hold your breath). Thrissur is also famous for its magnificent churches, their colourful stucco façades peeking over the town's roads in every direction.
Don't be afraid to join the workers for some roadside food. But watch the amount of sugar they add to the delicious fruit cocktails, Keralans have a sweet tooth.
Get there by train from Ernakulam Junction (any visit to India is not complete without a train journey) which lasts around one and half hours, and costs a mere 28 INR for a one-way ticket.
Shakthan Thampuran Palace, Stadium Road, Thrissur
Google map: bit.ly/LaGN4w
Glendurgan gardens is a National Trust managed Garden estate tucked way in a glorious green valley SW of falmouth. A perfect day out for families with children as there is a laurel maze hidden in the depths of the garden, the sheer brightness of the greens reminded me of a trip to the north of Sri Lanka. There are tropical plants, palms, streams and bridges and viewing points and resting points a plenty. Descending through the garden you join a small shingle beach which is gently lapped by the Helford Estuary- perfect for skimming stones while eating a clotted cream ice cream
Glendurgan, Falmouth, Mawnan Smith, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 5JZ
Google map: bit.ly/Ld6yE5
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