When it comes to ultimate family experiences, visiting the French region of Provence is right up there with learning circus tricks from the pros. Luckily, with the recent launch of Club Med CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil at Opio en Provence, you can cross two items off your list in one vacation. From swinging on a trapeze to relaxing in the middle of a beautiful olive grove, here are eight reasons why you should visit Provence (and explore the Cote d’Azur!) with kids.
1. It’s Easy to Get There.
Club Med Opio en Provence is a mere 30-minute drive up the hill from the Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport. Flights come and go on a daily basis, one of the most popular being Delta’s non-stop route from JFK airport in New York. You can organize the transfer as part of your Club Med vacation package up to two days before your arrival, arrange with a separate shuttle service, or even call for Uber to pick you up and drop you off.
2. You’ll Be Treated Like Family
Club Med has been in the vacation business for over 65 years, and they’ve perfected the experience. The GOs (gracious organizers) are on hand to make sure you feel like you’re part of the Club Med family. You can ask them anything—whether they are in charge of sports, dancing, guest relations, or even the kids—and they’ll have an answer. They eat with you, play with you, and make sure you have easy access to the club’s offerings. In other words, it’s like having a knowledgeable friend along for the adventure!
3. You Can Eat Like a Local
Provence is known for its cuisine. Club Med Opio takes that fact seriously and incorporates a local feel into every dish. Most of the meals are served buffet-style in Restaurant Provence, the main restaurant.
Wake up to freshly made crepes, croissants, Fromage Blanc with fresh fruit, and eggs almost any way. Compliment the meal with a DIY latte, cappuccino or espresso. Lunch might be soft brie and honey with a freshly baked baguette, paired with a fresh salad, marinated artichokes, olives, and peppers. In the evening, you might find yourself dining on a savory veal stew, Foie gras, whole fish, pasta, and pancetta over arugula, followed by a dish of basil, tomato, and fresh burrata. As for dessert, there’s gelato in multiple flavors, small mousses, and cakes—among other treats.
For those who feel a buffet is overwhelming, the chefs also make beautifully plated individual options such as salmon, steak tartare or seafood salad. There’s also a carb corner, where you’ll find focaccia, pizza, and pasta of all kinds. And, for those super-picky eaters? There’s a kiddie corner, where parents can fix a plate for their little ones. There’s even a hamburger station, complete with french fries!
Other dining options include Le Golf, a lovely (kid-free) restaurant nestled along the edge of the nine-hole golf course. It’s open from 11:00 am – 11:00 pm, and offers a buffet lunch and waiter service at night. The shaded terrace area gives you a clear view of the driving range and olive grove. In between meals, snacks can be found throughout the village when the restaurants are closed. Find crepes and other goodies during aperitif times in the main bar—La Croisette—or wander over to the Bar du Loup, which is close to the main pool, and offers other local bites.
4. You’ll Learn Real Circus Tricks from the Pros
The brand-new Club Med CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil playground offers over 25 different activities for guests. Kids ages four and up can come in the morning to try their hand at juggling, face-painting, acrobatic bungee, trampoline, trapeze, and then in the afternoon, it’s time for the adults to get in on the action! And, if you’re worried about your kids spinning in circles above your head, don’t be. The GOs in charge of the CREACTIVE playground are highly-skilled, trained artists who take their job very seriously, all while maintaining a playful, fun attitude.
5. You Can Really Relax
Nestled among the olive groves of Provence, Club Med Opio invites you to relax and enjoy the amenities offered. There are three pools: the main pool in the middle of the village, the adults-only Zen pool, which can be found in the olive grove, and the kid’s pool, which is adjacent to the Kid’s Club near the golf course. There’s a beautiful Turkish bath and sauna—the use of both is included in your basic package—or at an additional cost, you can sign up for a massage or other spa services from Carita.
In addition, every amenity you might need during your stay has been anticipated. There’s a baby feeding and equipment room, and you don’t have to bring a stroller, a crib, baby food, high chairs, or even a baby bath. All of these items are provided by Club Med and are included in your package. The only thing left to do is sit back and relax!
6. The Kids Will Have Plenty to Do
Club Med is all about the family experience. Which is why there’s plenty of options, whether you want to share it with your little ones or take some adult time. If you want adult time, it’s easy to slip away and know your kids are in good hands.
Baby Club Med (4 months – 23 months, at an additional cost) is open from 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, six days a week. Activities focus on early learning and motor skills and include fun things like walks, painting, water games, puppet shows and more.
Petit Club Med (2 to 3 years old, at an additional cost), open from 9:00 am – 5:30 pm six days a week, is ideal for busy toddlers, as they’ll get to explore a range of activities that will immerse them in new experiences: nursery rhymes, outdoor games, making herbariums, tea time, playing dress up and more.
Mini Club Med (4 to 10 years old, included in your package) is where the fun really begins. From the moment your little one steps into the kids club, there’ll be one fun experience after the next. This is where they’ll be able to check out Creactive with other petite guests or spend time in the art studio, playing soccer, swimming in the kid’s pool, and soaking up the sunshine and fresh air. They’ll also be able to experience the fragrances of the region, and even help grow fresh produce in the village’s veggie and herb garden!
Juniors’ Club Med (11 to 17 years old, included in your package) is where tweens and teens will find age-appropriate fun designed just for them, including plenty of lounging time.
Did We Mention Pyjama Club?
If you want to have an adults-only evening, your kiddos can watch movies and enjoy other guests from 9:00 pm – 1:00 am, under the careful watch of the GO team (at an additional cost).
7. You Can Explore the Cote d’Azur
If you find that you want to get out of the village and see the beautiful sights of the French Riviera, you can easily organize an excursion. Explore the Opio forest and the charming village of Valbonne on a Fat Bike (12 & up), experience jaw-dropping beauty in the ancient village of St. Paul de Vence, or spend an entire day at La Plage in Mandelieu, a private beach only 45 minutes away from the resort.
8. There’s Still More to Do
Still wondering what else Club Med Opio en Provence has to offer? If you like sports, then tennis, archery, table tennis, petanque (the French answer to bocce ball), guided walks, golf (at an additional cost) and Pilates classes will be a good start. If you like good club music and entertainment, almost every night at Le Mistral—the club located in the heart of the village—offers a show for kids and families (8:00 pm for kids, 9:30 pm for families) before turning into a nightclub perfect for dancing the night away.
A Final Note
With their newly launched app (available on iTunes and Google Play), you can familiarize yourself with the daily happenings in the village, find out exactly which activity your kiddo will be doing at any given time, meet the G.O team, study the village map and more!
Rates start at $105 per night, depending on season and length of stay. Children are included in the cost!
— Gabby Cullen
All images by Gabby Cullen unless noted otherwise.
This trip was paid for by Club Med but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.