FAMILY OUTING IDEAS FOR A WEEK-END IN THE PAYS DE GRASSE
SAINT-VALLIER PEYMEINADE THORENC CAILLE – 2 days, 1 night
Looking to spend a weekend with family in the Pays de Grasse, romping across stunning landscapes of mountains and plains, exploring in ways that are fun, original, and can both entertain the kids and help them let off steam?
Travel on two wheels through luxuriant nature, discover a different way to enjoy flowers, see how wild animals really live and even sleep in their midst – it’s not just a dream, it’s actually possible! Take a look at our proposed turnkey weekend and you’re sure to find inspiration in our best ideas for family outings.
1 : RIDE ELECTRIC KICK SCOOTERS
2 : LEARN ABOUT, COOK WITH, AND EAT DELICIOUS FLOWERS
3 : CONTINUE YOUR FAMILY ADVENTURE OVERNIGHT IN UNUSUAL ACCOMMODATIONS
4 : EXPERIENCE A ONE-OF-A-KIND WILDLIFE SAFARI
FAMILY OUTING IDEA #1:
RIDE ELECTRIC KICK SCOOTERS
Saint-Vallier de Thiey : « Explore nature – with an adrenaline kick! »
10H : Explore nature – with an adrenaline kick!
We were looking for an original way to explore the Grasse backcountry on a family outing, keeping the focus on nature. We were torn between bikes and electric kick scooters: This time, we chose the scooter option – it sounded like so much fun! After a 15-minute warm-up ride on the town’s big meadow (called the Grand Pré) to learn how to control our scooters safely, we set out on a one-hour introductory ride. The guide chose just the right level for our off-road scooter experience so that all the children, even our 12-year-old daughter, could have fun while still getting real thrills from the adventure. We loved being in the fresh air, with the wind in our hair and the countryside rolling by, and also learned a lot about local heritage and nature. We’ll definitely be back again to try the higher-level rides – a bit more challenging and all the more thrilling –, learn about the region’s history, or drink in a panoramic view of the French Riviera.
The history of Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey:
Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey has a fascinating history dating back to prehistoric times. During the Ice Age, humans lived in caves and rock shelters here. The Grotte Lombard is one of the rare caves in the Alpes-Maritimes to show occupation in the Mesolithic Era, then again in the Neolithic Era. Saint Vallier is also the name of the Bishop of Antibes who was martyred in the fourth century by the Visigoths during their invasion from Provence to Catalonia. The town of Saint-Vallier first went by the name “Castrum Sancti Valérii,” later simplified to “Saint-Vallier.” It was not until 1846 that the moniker of the immense nearby mountain, “Thiey,” was added to form today’s name of “Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey.” It is a key stop on the famed Route Napoléon, which traces part of the route taken by the emperor on his return from Elba.
FAMILY OUTING IDEA #2:
LEARN ABOUT, COOK WITH, AND EAT DELICIOUS FLOWERS
14H30: An adventure in floral fragrances and flavors
In 2018, the Pays of Grasse was listed by UNESCO as being part of world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage for the skills related to perfume-making, so we were eager to visit a field of fragrant flowers emblematic of the region. Centifolia rose, iris, lily, jasmine, mint, bitter orange, tuberose, violet – since these plants don’t all bloom at the same time, gardens here can always offer fragrances and colors. On a vast, shady estate, home to an 18th-century Provencal farmhouse, we were taken on a very complete tour that was as educational as it was entertaining. The grower told us about the history of the estate, details on each flower we came across, and how crops in the region had changed over time. With all these lovely scents tickling our noses, this riot of color before our eyes, and the chance to actually pick flowers ourselves, touring this pastoral paradise was a treat for all our senses, even our taste buds!
The delicious thrill of eating flowers
Then, in a pastry workshop designed especially for families, our little darlings, with their very own hands, made cakes from rose petals. The workshop themes change every week, so we could just as easily have made another floral pastry or floral candies like lollipops, flower jellies, crystallized petals, and other treats. In this truly original workshop that lasts about two hours, the confectioner is perfect with kids – jolly, friendly, and fun. Everyone wears a chef’s hat and a smile as they make their recipe in their own individual workspace, using utensils that are just right for budding chefs. We were enchanted with this afternoon of sweet tastes and smells and departed carrying the kids’ edible creations, which were truly scrumptious, traditionally handcrafted, and enjoyed by young and old alike.
FAMILY OUTING IDEA #3:
CONTINUE YOUR FAMILY ADVENTURE OVERNIGHT IN UNUSUAL ACCOMMODATIONS
"Perched in the trees"
After this day of memorable moments and luscious treats, we wanted to keep things interesting and, instead of the family hotel – always pleasant, but more traditional –, decided to try some unusual accommodations to surprise our little adventurers. We had lots of lodging to choose from, all of them out in the middle of nature – a transparent bubble, a bioclimatic house, an ecolodge, a medieval inn, a tipi, and more –, but the treetops won the day and we made our family nest in a treehouse perched in the pines. With all the comforts of a traditional, comfortably decorated house, entirely in wood and several yards off the ground, we spent the night in this welcoming, magical place, sharing the woodlands with the birds and the forest elves, who delivered our breakfast in a basket that we hoisted up to our treehouse on the end of a rope. A wondrous change of scenery in absolute peace and quiet!
Unusual accommodations and responsible tourism
Beyond the notion of being “off the beaten track,” these unusual accommodations help promote responsible tourism that is more environmentally friendly. Most of these lodging options are out in nature, built with natural materials to blend in with their surroundings, and generally lack running water and electricity, offering rudimentary but authentic amenities. This means they help us reduce our carbon footprint while staying true to local traditions and cultures. They offer the chance to reconnect with the surrounding flora and fauna, but also to reconnect with family, because things are simple and down-to-earth, in a setting that is at once serene and energizing, so you can truly savor the time spent together.
FAMILY OUTING IDEA #4:
EXPERIENCE A ONE-OF-A-KIND WILDLIFE SAFARI
"Caille - Thorenc"
After a restful night, we set out for a face-to-face meeting with wild animals at a nature reserve that is unlike any other in Europe. In this breathtaking setting, a combination of vast plains, cool lakes, and lush forests, more than 500 different species of herbivores harmoniously coexist: European bison, roe deer, wild boar, elk … as well as an entire herd of Przewalski’s horse, the famed “prehistoric” horses that were successfully reintroduced by the site’s owner, Dr. Longour, and his staff. We went on a 90-minute horse-drawn wagon safari with a guide who knows nature like the back of his hand. It was an incredible experience being among all these wild animals, roaming free – the bison drinking at the lake, the horses grazing on the plain, the deer playfully frolicking, all in a superb mountain setting.
The reserve throughout the seasons
As the animals roam free at the Monts d’Azur Nature Reserve, they live as they do in the wild, with the rhythm of the seasons. This means that springtime is the season for births. Starting in March, the baby wild boar appear, while fawns and bison calves are born in May and June in densely vegetated areas that provide them with shelter during their first weeks of life. In summer, the herbivores colonize the entire reserve, stimulating biodiversity and the spectacular development of various plant species. After the bison mating season in August comes the mating season for deer, with the celebrated troating of the stags, the males making their deep, throaty roars and battling one another with their magnificent antlers. Lasty, in wintertime, the plains offer a breathtaking snowy landscape, but no longer provide enough food for the animals, and the creatures move into the undergrowth.