Children's workshop at the Vasarely Foundation Aix en ProvenceAix en Provence is a city, whose pleasures - wine, art, history, culture - are very adult ones. But there are plenty of fun options here for children too. logoClick here to book a hotel in Aix en Provence

Aimed at children aged from 8 to 12, Charlie Travers, Time Traveller: Operation Cézanne is a Harry Potter-like fantasy set among some of Aix's most famous landmarks, and would make nice advance reading to whet your kids' appetite.

On the edge of the Old Town, the Pavillon de Vendôme is set in lovely, spacious, peaceful grounds, including a large formal French park and a rose garden.

The bit of special interest to families is the adjacent playground, a favourite haunt for local kids and mums. It's a great place to stroll, gossip and play, and an excellent spot for an urban picnic.

Aix's carousel (called, inevitably, the Paul Cézanne and decorated with copies of the master's landscapes) is just off La Rotonde on the place Jeanne d'Arc next to the Le Cintra restaurant.

Some of Aix's "grown-up" activities are perfect for children too. Its colourful street markets are full of edible goodies (and the stall-holders will often offer samples if your kids ask nicely!) The petit train, or little tourist train, is not as cute as its Marseille cousin but it's a very efficient way to get around (although central Aix is also compact enough to visit easily on foot).

Aix has many more attractions slightly out of the centre. About 15 minutes' walk to the east, the Parc Rambot is lined with trees, shrubs and flowers and has plentiful lawns and play areas with sand-pits, swings, slides and a paddling pool. The Parc Rambot, avenue du Docteur Aurientis, 13100 Aix en Provence

Parc Jourdan Aix en ProvenceTo the south, and a little closer, is the even larger Parc Jourdan, pictured, which is landscaped on two levels linked by a huge staircase.

It also has a play zone and open-air entertainment in summer, when it's packed with locals catching the sun. The Parc Jourdan, rue Anatole France or avenue Jules Ferry, 13100 Aix en Provence.

On the other side of Aix, the Parc Saint Mitre boasts a rose garden, an arboretum, plenty of shady trees and a number of play and picnic areas as well as a permanent puppet theatre, based in a tent, which holds shows on weekend afternoons.

Next door to the park, in the Villa Clair Matin, is the Peiresc Planetarium, named after Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1631), an astronomer who lived in Aix. It recently moved to these new premises and has almost doubled in size, making it one of the largest planetaria in the region.

The Planetarium organises regular scholarly conferences but at certain times it holds workshops for children (in French only, of course). A session lasts between 45 minutes and an hour. Phone in advance to check and reserve (details below). The Planetarium has disabled access.

Le Planétarium Peiresc, Villa Clair Matin, 166 avenue Jean Monnet, 13090 Aix en Provence. Tel: (+33) 4 42 20 43 66 Website for the Planetarium Peiresc

The Vasarely Foundation Aix en ProvenceIt can get very cold in Aix when the Mistral is blowing (click here to read about the year-round climate).

Luckily some of the city's museums are very child-friendly, notably the Fondation Vasarely, which commemorates Victor Vasarely, the father of op art.

Set in large open grounds to the west of the centre this gloriously eccentric, maze-like geometric building, pictured, resembles a cluster of giant toy building blocks. Kids should love it, and the enormous, explosively colourful artworks inside. There's a packed programme of family workshops here too, pictured top left.

The Museum of Natural History has skeletons, fossils and dinosaur eggs as well as an section on biodiversity. However it's currently closed while the collection is being moved to new premises. Click here for more details of it and Aix's other museums.

Older children might appreciate Paul Cézanne's studio at Les Lauves, which sets out the artist's materials and personal effects as though he'd just popped outside briefly, and sits in its own lovely gardens. And the excellent Caumont Centre d'Art always has a kids' circuit with a book of games and puzzles to accompany its major exhibitions.

In the outlying suburb of Les Milles, the Memorial Site of the Camp des Milles was once an internment camp from where 100 very young Jewish children were deported to Auschwitz in 1942. Today a Holocaust memorial centre, it's an educational, if sombre, excursion.

bnde dessinee festival aixIf you are in Aix with children in the autumn, you're in luck: each year the city has a huge annual cultural festival especially for children called Mômaix.

Starting in October, it runs for two months and has dozens of shows including music, dance, magic, puppeteers, pantomime, circus and theatre. A detailled programme is available from the Aix Tourist Office.

In spring another regular festival has a lively family-friendly strand. The Festival de Bande Dessinée celebrates what the French describe as graphic novels and Anglo-Saxons refer to more dismissively as comic strips.

You might expect this to be an event aimed at geeks and fanboys, but it has a strong appeal to children. At one weekend we attended, dozens of families with kids of all ages were there to listen to the live music or, pictured above, to take part in workshops and other games.

It's all free too. Comic books and films with erotic and/or violent, adult content were kept out of sight in a discreetly screened off separate area!

Legend'aire indoor playground Aix en ProvenceHandy bad weather fallback options can be found at the indoor adventure playgrounds Gulli Parc, pictured, and Urban Kids, and the Puyricard chocolate factory and the Léonard Parli calisson factory (calissons are Aix's local sweet speciality). All these places are somewhat out of the centre of Aix.

If you want to venture further even afield, check our family-friendly section for more ideas within a 40 minutes' drive from Aix, a 40 minutes' drive from Marseille and a 40 minutes' drive from Avignon , many of which are still well within striking distance for a day trip.

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All these suggestions for things to do with your kids will be enjoyable even if they don't speak French.

If they do, many more options will be open, from cooking lessons, guided tours and nature walks to treasure hunts and children's theatre. The Aix Tourist Office (L'Office de Tourisme) on Les Allées provençales, just off La Rotonde, will have information about all these.

A footnote on where to eat in Aix en Provence: French restaurants generally welcome kids and dining out, especially at weekends, is a family affair.

This said, many of the intimate spots in the Old Town are rather cramped for large families, especially if you are going to need a high-chair.

In good weather, one of the best parts of town for children is the pedestrianised Forum des Cardeurs, in the Old Town, which is lined with restaurants. Most of them have set menus and outdoor tables, pictured, and the large square itself has plenty of room for kids to run around.

The Forum des Cardeurs Aix en ProvenceIf your heart is set on eating on the (expensive) Cours Mirabeau, try the Bistro Romain at no.13, a chain restaurant with reasonable set menus, including one for children, and a wide choice of Italian-ish dishes.

The inner dining room is elegant and there's a outdoor terrace looking on to the Cours.

The Mayor of Aix, Maryse Joissains, has always famously opposed the opening of a McDonald's in Aix. But the city has several other very good fast food outlets.

As its logo, a cartoon hippo, hints, Hippopotamus is a chain restaurant aimed at children, with a special kids' menu and gifts and activity books for junior diners.

It specialises in high-quality meat (Charolais beef burgers are on the menu), but has imaginative fish and vegetarian options and offers continuous kitchen service.

We've eaten at these restaurants several times in the company of regulars who come there for the excellent (and very reasonably priced) food, sometimes with not a single child in sight! In Aix there's a branch at 1 avenue Victor Hugo, just off La Rotonde.

Also in this area is Le Cintra, a spacious and cheap café-restaurant that serves a wide selection of hot food literally round the clock, and, on La Rotonde itself, a brand-new branch of the popular American burger chain Five Guys.



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