Half-term is just around the corner. I know, just when there’s a reprieve after Christmas, many of us are faced with planning what to do in February to keep everyone in the house happy.
Well, look no further; here’s our line-up of some of the best destinations to take your children for something a little different this half-term, suitable for all tastes and ages. From art tours in Paris to exploring Maltese Islands and seeking out history in Norfolk, there is no need to travel to the other end of the earth and each one offers something unique for a family break.
Budding Art Enthusiasts at Le Meurice Hotel, Paris
It’s widely accepted that impressionism is an inspiring and easy path to introduce children to the appreciation of art. How better to do that than through the eyes of one of France’s greatest ever painters, and the father of this art movement, Claude Monet?
Like the city itself, Le Meurice has been shaped by the artists who have called it home, from Dalí to Warhol and Salvi, to mention but a few.
Le Meurice Hotel in Paris has created a two-hour expert-guided tour around the City of Lights that explores the key sites that inspired his work and concludes at the Musée de l’Orangerie amidst Monet’s immersive water-lily panels, which mark the audacious culmination of the artist’s prolific work. Tickets to Musée de l’Orangerie are included in the package. The tour can be personalised to adapt the pace and content to different levels of interest.
Considered somewhat radical and rebellious in his day, the tour cleverly discovers (on foot) many of the significant inspirations of Monet’s work when Paris was a city in the grip of architectural transformation and the artist movement was flourishing. Armed with historic photographs, quotes, and pictures to transport you back in time, the expert guide talks visitors through key paintings made at each site along the route, telling all the tales and more. The tour reveals the sites, scenes, critics and patrons that inspired young Monet and set him on the path towards impressionism: a new way of seeing and a new attitude which changed the course of modern art forever.
From Le Meurice’s own rooftop, visitors can compare today’s view over the Tuileries Garden with the 1876 painting by Monet.
Known as the hotel of artists and thinkers, hosting the likes of Salvador Dali and Coco Chanel, staying at Le Meurice is a history lesson in itself and a truly magical experience for all ages. Throughout the entire hotel, there are a selection of exceptional pieces of art. Its location, within a three-minute walk to the famous Tuileries Garden and on the doorstep of several of the best art galleries in the city, make it and ideal base from where to soak up the art and culture of Paris.
Information about the hotel package HERE.
History Buffs Delight at Holkham Estate, Norfolk
Holkham Hall and Estate, Norfolk, offers a fabulous range of activities inside and out for this half-term, each with an educational twist. Activities include book-themed trails, creative bookworm crafts, a gripping parkland tales trail and the estate’s woodland play area. So, even if the unreliable British weather is… well, unreliable, they’ll be still plenty of fun to be had.
The Holkham Estate encapsulates the best Norfolk has to offer and it is ideal for families to discover nature and history together.
The beauty of Holkham will keep the adults immersed too. The estate, situated near Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk comprises the Palladian style mansion Holkham Hall, built by Thomas Coke – the first Earl of Leicester – between 1734 and 1764; and a thriving agricultural estate, with a clear vision for sustainability. Whether you are interested in architecture, art and interiors or the lives of the people who have lived, worked and made pioneering decisions on the estate, there are 400 years to discover. Holkham’s archivist Lucy Purvis has unearthed fascinating stories of the estate over the years. Visitors can follow the trail around the exhibition to learn more about the characters and the estate itself. Holkham’s education team for crafts has been themed around all things literary so children can make their own bookworm bookmark or design an autobiography book cover.
Those who find the four landmarks in the trail will receive a treat at the Visitor Reception.
In the park itself, there’s the Tales Trail, where children can visit four iconic landmarks in Holkham Park, learn the story of each, and collect a stamp. Once finished, those who have completed the trail receive a small treat. The Woodland play area provides the opportunity for kids to burn off some steam and the Nature Trail means they can both learn some new facts along the way and breath in the pure Norfolk air.
Accommodation can be found within minutes of the estate gates at The Victoria, or Vic as its fondly referred to by the locals. Two beautifully maintained and appointed historical buildings (also part of the estate) offer a selection of rooms, large family suites, and the family’s canine is also welcome.
Island Life in Malta
Only a three-hour flight away from the UK, Malta is a top destination for families all year round. From arts and culture, theatre and performance, to music festivals and carnivals; there’s always something for the entire family. Winter is a great time to experience what the Maltese Islands have in abundance that the UK does not: sunshine!
The walled city of Valletta is the capital of was established in the 1500s and is known for its museums, palaces and grand churches.
Discover more than 7,000 years of history on the Mediterranean archipelago by Segway, Quad Bike, Jeep Safari or – my personal favourite – by Rolling Geeks, self-drive electric cars, complete with a pre-programmed GPS that takes you on the perfect tour, but with the freedom of deciding for yourself where to go and how long to stay for. Furthermore, these super fun buggies are your best chance to keep teens off their screens.
One of the treasures of this island break is how much to do is on offer and how diverse. The islands host Megalithic Temples, the oldest freestanding structures in the world, predating the Great Pyramids of Giza by 1,000 years. The Mediterranean Sea offers a tranquil environment ideal for snorkelling, kayaking, and swimming; whilst the topographical island landscape encourages rock-climbing, mountain-biking, and horse-riding.
The beach in Ramla Bay in Gozo is considered by many the best in Malta. Its local name is “Ramla il-Hamra”, which literally means “red sandy beach”.
Malta has also been named one of the Best Dive Destinations in the world and children can gain their PADI certification from the age of 10. Malta’s sister islands Gozo and Comino are just a 25-minute ferry away and offer more unique diving experiences. If adventure by day isn’t enough, and they have a pass, young adults can enjoy exploring Malta’s thriving nightlife scene, whilst parents experience Maltese Cuisine at a waterfront restaurant.
Of course, when it comes to accommodation there is plenty of choice satisfying all levels of comfort and budget. Whether it’s a beach getaway, city-break, or rural escape you’re looking for; the Mediterranean archipelago has it all.
More information about itineraries, activities and accommodation HERE.
Snow Bunnies in Kitzbühel
The small medieval Alpine town of Kitzbühel is both charming and traditional. Its 750-year-old historic town centre really has something for everyone: stunning scenery, atmosphere, and plenty of culinary delights. There is nothing quite like the ambience and soothing air in the heart of the Alps. Numerous sights, shops, cafes, and restaurants can all be reached within 15 minutes, making this an excellent destination for families.
Kitzbühel is not only one of the most famous and exclusive ski resorts in the world, but also a town full of history, art and gastronomic delights.
Sitting east of Innsbruck, reaching Kitzbühel is easy. Whether from the airports in Munich, Innsbruck or Salzburg, by train directly to the heart of the Alps (there’s three train stations in the town which are walking distance to the centre) or a quick drive, it’s easy to navigate and offers a host of excellent skiing across 181 kilometres of perfectly groomed slopes, 52 kilometres of marked ski routes and various fun parks. If you don’t drive, you need not to worry, as a host of regional buses makes exploring the entire region very easy for anyone.
Ski enthusiasts are in good hands on Kitzbühel’s sunny side, the Kitzbüheler Horn. Each of the ski schools has its own children’s area where young ski stars learn their first arcs in a playful environment. The 10 free practice lifts in the valley are a unique highlight available to all beginners in Kitzbühel and its vacation villages Reith, Aurach and Jochberg. When it’s time to descend from the peaks, there’s the fun and eventful toboggan ride. Speeding downhill on long straights and winding sections from the Kelchalm, the Trattenbachalm or the Gaisberg on two runners, it’s something quite special. Kitzbühel also offers the opportunity to learn snowboarding on a range of short, simple, slopes, making it an ideal destination for families with different levels of ski ability.
Kitzbühel has been voted Austria’s best ski resort ten years in a row. Above, skiing down the Kitzbüheler Horn, one of the most popular mountains in the Tyrol.
With over 125 years of skiing history, Kitzbühel is the most legendary sports town in the Alps, known worldwide as a winter holiday destination with deep tradition and extraordinary charm. It’s easily accessible, has long winters, a high level of snow security. Go and see for yourself!
Information on Kitzbühel and the villages of Reith, Aurach and Jochberg can be found HERE.
Words: Linda Hunting