How to improve holidays with children

Hey, mum, has it got the fun factor?
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The Independent Travel

We have just returned from a skiing trip to France, and my kids are already asking to go back - not for the Alpine air or the thrill of the piste but because, according to them, the French do "the best breakfast in the world". They have developed an alarming addiction to chocolate croissants (my elder son ate five at one sitting: a real proud-mum moment).

There's no doubt about it, holidays in France can be great for families. I realised this on our first break there, a fortnight in a Provençal vineyard, a beautiful, peaceful place - once the kids were in bed. The owners were friendly, and the children were kept entertained all day.

Not all owners, however, are so keen to welcome little people with open arms, so if you're in search of the perfect French villa for your brood, it's worth hunting down the companies brave enough to call themselves "family friendly".Balfour France (0208-878 9955; balfour france .com), for example, includes anything from table tennis to nannies, and promises to accommodate any request, within reason.

Scott Dunn Villas (020-8682 50 40; scottdunn .com/mediterranean), also knows how to keep us happy. This year, it features a new resort on the Aquitaine coast, La Résidence Les Moliets, designed specifically with families in mind. Children's clubs, treasure hunts, trampolining and surfing lessons are all laid on. They even have their own trained "baby specialists", who will come to your villa and look after your precious cargo so you can lounge by the pool. The company has also extended its private nanny service to many more of its properties.

If you're looking for a bit more action, Peak Retreats (0870 770 0408; peakretreats.co.uk) is worth checking out. It specialises in Alpine resorts, including Samoëns, which claims to be "the only winter and summer sports resort in France". Accommodation includes a new house sleeping 12.

Many companies will also help to organise French lessons for all the family - something my kids could benefit from. When their ski instructor asked if they spoke the language, my younger son shook his head. "I can't be bothered to hang around for the after-school French club," he explained. "It's on at the same time as The Simpsons." Another proud-mum moment to add to my collection.

Katy's Top Tip

* You can get advice on everything from what to pack to finding a child-friendly gîte from france4families.com.

Katy Holland is deputy editor of 'Mother and Baby' and motherandbabymagazine.com. She has written several books on childcare.

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