France, Spain and Portugal come brimming with attractions and educational family day trips to help keep child boredom at bay on holiday, says Abra Dunsby.
For budding marine biologists: Pas de Calais
Holidays near Calais are a fuss-free option for clients who are short on time, with travel by ferry, train and car all an option from starting points including London and Dover taking an average of two-and-a-half hours.
A 30-minute drive or train ride from Calais is Boulogne-sur-Mer’s Nausicaa, which has recently been extended and is now Europe’s biggest aquarium, with more than 60,000 marine species to discover.
The aquarium focuses on man’s relationship with marine life and the sea, highlighting the plight of ocean life due to climate change, and running educational programmes, talks, exhibitions and activities (entry is £21 per adult and £16 per child).
After a half-day spent at the centre, families can head into Boulogne-sur-Mer to see its castle and museum, which houses antiquities from ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek civilisations.
Book it: Prices for a stay at Le Grand Hotel Le Touquet start from £151pn for two adults and two children in October staying in a duplex room. legrandhotel-letouquet.fr
For castles, cuisine and culture: the Loire Valley
Visiting this region’s splendid chateaux and palaces allows clients to see how the French royals and nobility once lived, and many of the castles in the area offer family- friendly activities.
Chateau de Meung-sur-Loire hosts various historical re-enactments, while other activities include learning about 18th-century clothing and cooking, meeting the three musketeers or learning about ancient park games. At Chateau de Cheverny, kids can help solve a mystery at the new Lego Investigation at Cheverny exhibition, or discover the world of Tintin at an interactive, permanent exhibition.
At the Chateau Royal de Blois, children can make use of the free histopads – iPads that use 360-degree augmented reality – for an immersive, informative experience.
Book it: Prices for a seven-night stay at Domaine de Dugny in Onzain start from £336. hoseasons.co.uk