The ultimate relaxation and exploration lies not in the bustling cities, but instead the vast and beautiful countryside of France. Do Paris, as many should while in France, but save days for some time off the grid for travel in Angers.
Only a few hours train ride away, this plucky area offers charm, sophistication and a wonderfully slowed down lifestyle, perfect for cooing babies and parents in need of a break. Although you’ll have a tough time finding many who speak English there, language offers no boundaries and most guests are met with a smile on the street.
Snacking and strolling
Take your babe from the train station straight downtown for a quick bite to eat. Cafes line the narrow streets, offering typical French affair of simple sandwiches, charcuterie and everything in between. It’s the ideal time to give a bottle to the little one as you enjoy a leisurely meal, perhaps with one of the fun, fruity beer varieties that are popular in town. If visiting during the week, many shops are bare so you can bring baby inside and not feel disruptive. This goes for the little local movie theater too on rainy weekdays.
A castle’s namesake
Château d’Angers is much grander than a large house. Complete with drawbridge, turrets and a lovely garden, its ideal rain or shine for you and your baby to check out. Find out about its past as a fortress and residential home through small exhibits inside. Feeling up for a challenge? Ditch the stroller and climb to the top of a turret for panoramic views of Angers below.
Architecture buffs can also slip into the church in the town square, covered in a rainbow of stained glass and centuries of iconic Christian history. If interested, a mass or liturgical service in French could be very soothing for a small baby.
Go for a drive
Some babies love being in the car, so take advantage of this prime nap-time to soak up the countryside. Rolling hills dotted with sheep, goats, rustic fenced pastures and little farmhouses make you feel like you’re miles away from all the hustle and bustle. Bring some cheese and bread if you find an open space for a picnic – just be wary of trespassing. But do take time to wave and giggle at a pony or two.
Make new friends
Gushing over babies is a universal activity. Have yours along for the ride when you gather some fresh ingredients from the town market and resident shops. Keep an eye out for family owned bakeries packed with chocolate-filled croissants – if your baby is old enough, don’t forget to sneak him a little bit! I’m sure the bakers will love seeing your little one out and about. Alongside the foodie market in the square, check the weekly antique vendors that have some interesting items from France’s rich past.