Make Your Trip More Memorable with a Local Guide!
Updated: Feb 1
Traveling with my family is my favorite thing to do. As a family, our focus has become experiencing things together rather than accumulating items. Seeing the world together and making memories is something we look forward to every year. I plan for each trip for hours, and we dream about taking it until the time finally arrives. This year like so many other travelers, our plans are no more. We should be days away from a three-week dream vacation through France, Belgium, Germany, and Austria. Instead, we are worrying about a pandemic like the rest of the world. Thankfully, we have kept our jobs and our health through this terrible ordeal. Many others are not so lucky. I have decided to compile a directory of family-friendly guides. Meeting people around the world and learning about the history, culture, food, and way of life together is always the highlight of our trips. I know it has been beneficial to our boys as they shape their view of the world. Thanks to technology, I can still meet wonderful people from around the world. I am sharing what they have to offer in this post and on my site. I hope this will bring them more customers on future tours, more views on their youtube channels, blogs, websites, and more. None of us can visit them in person now, but we can plan, learn, and share what they have to offer. Some of the guides here are ones we met on previous trips, while others were discovered online. I hope to keep expanding this post as I meet more amazing guides!
A Rooftop Lunch with Cathy in Paris
Book this experience via Eatwith.com. Take advantage of the excellent services offered by Eatwith.com. While in Paris, we enjoyed a wonderful rooftop lunch with Cathy and her son, who was a few years older than our oldest, Maddox. Cathy has a beautiful home situated on the top floor of her apartment building. Her large rooftop terrace has gorgeous views of the city, including the Eiffel Tower in the distance. We enjoyed a lovely leisurely lunch with Cathy and her son on a warm Sunday afternoon. Maddox and Henry enjoyed this experience more than anything else during the entire trip because they loved playing with Cathy's son. Her son filled a small inflatable toy raft with water as a makeshift pool, and our youngest splashed around in it in a pair her son's borrowed shorts. Henry enjoyed splashing around on her rooftop more than anything we did that day!
Our meal was served in courses and was aptly prepared with the heat in mind. Cathy served a French bread that she mentioned was commonly made for picnics. It was stuffed with olives and cheese, and we all enjoyed it. She also served tapenade, sliced turnips, salad, cold roasted lamb, and a simple, but a wonderful cake with fresh currants from her neighbor's country house baked in. The experience was immersive and a unique way to learn more about the everyday lives of the Parisians and their perspectives on the world. I know we will remember the experience for years to come; we were all appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about the French culture than we could have absorbed at a tourist attraction. Click here for the full post.
South Of France
Learn To Play the sport of La Pétanque with Johann Pepin
By Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids
My kids love sports, all kinds of sports. So, when traveling to the South of France, we thought a great way to teach them about another country was through learning a game of La Pétanque, a sport commonly played in the south of France. While this sport is often older gentleman playing in courtyards or public parks throughout the region, it is making its way to a newer generation of younger men and women, and traveling around the world. My stepmother often boasts that she is the La Pétanque champion of her town (in Florida, USA). If you would love to enjoy a truly French sport while introducing to your children to another culture and to chat with some locals, book a La Pétanque lesson with Johann Pepin of Les Pastras. And to show you he is the real deal, he has even been used as a local guide with Adventures By Disney. Find out more about booking a La Pétanque lesson in my post about the 8 Best Things To Do With Kids In Provence.
Learn To Make Calissons at Le Roy René
By Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids
Calisson is the famous French cookie of Aix en Provence, and it is one of my favorite treats when we travel there. Unique to the region, many sweets shops are decorated with beautiful, colorful bins of delicious Calissons. To truly be called a Calisson d’Aix, it must have very specific ingredients sourced almost all locally. So, learning how to make these special, unique treats is a wonderful experience for families, and there is no better place to make it than during a private lesson at the famous Calisson-maker Roy René in the heart of Aix-en-Provence. Find out more about booking a Calisson lesson in my post about the 8 Best Things To Do With Kids In Provence.
Painting Class With Christine Gazagnes In St Rémy de Provence
By Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids
St Rémy de Provence was made famous by Van Gogh, who lived and often used the beautiful area in some of his most famous paintings. In fact, some of his most famous works were created there. And as France is the inspiration for many famous artists, it seemed natural for our family to take a painting class in the same region that inspired some of the best artists in history. We found Christine Gazagnes of Atelier des Jardins de St Rémy studio who offers family painting classes, either indoors or outdoors. It is a wonderful way to experience Provence as a family and to interact with locals, as well as learn painting techniques from an expert. Find out more about booking Christine Gazagnes in my post about the 8 Best Things To Do With Kids In Provence. Cooking Class With Chef Jacques
By Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids
France is known for its exquisite cuisine and superb ingredients, so naturally when traveling to Provence, taking a cooking class came to mind. My kids love to cook, and to have a family experience around food with an expert seemed like a fantastic way to discover French culture. We booked a family cooking class with highly experienced and trained Chef Jacque Steine, a lovely and personal experience in his home (and Bed and Breakfast). It was a fantastic experience for our whole family and a marvelous way to mingle with a local, while experiencing French culture. Find out more about booking Chef Jacque Steine in my post about the 8 Best Things To Do With Kids In Provence.
Withlocals.com Food Tour with Ines
Spanish people consider kids to be a part of the family and place emphasis on involving them. We booked a food tasting tour thru withlocals.com and were delighted with our guide, Ines. She went out of her way to tell us the historical significance of Barcelona and interacted fabulously with our boys, Maddox and Henry. She even had a conversation with our son, Henry, about his Lego figure he named Skillet. Ines took us to the best places and gave us her simple recipe for Patatas Bravas, which we have made several times and home and absolutely love! Click here for the full post.
Naples & the Amalfi Coast
Ciro your guide for Naples, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast
For many, Naples conjures images of dirty streets and rampant organized crime. Visitors to Italy quickly dismiss the port town as not worth their time and plan other destinations instead. Thankfully, we took a day to explore the city with a private guide, Ciro, and my only regret is that we didn't have time to see more of Naples. Having a private guide in Naples and in Pompeii made our trip so much more memorable. Ciro took us to a cafe where we had the best espresso I have ever tasted, to Pompeii, a traditional Neopolitan Pizza restaurant, and churches around Naples.
We also quickly tried a traditional Neopolitan pastry called a fiocco de neve from Pasticceria Poppella. Fiocco de neve translates to "snowflake" in English. It is a brioche dusted with powdered sugar and delicately filled with a light ricotta based cream. For more inforamtion on our trip to Naples with Ciro, check out the full post here. Ciro is also available for cruise excursions from nearby cruise terminals. Ciro is also known as the singing Taxi Driver check out his youtube channel here and subscribe!
Sandra CookingClass in Rome
Our cooking class experience was a highlight of the trip for all of us. We booked a cooking class thru Eatwith.com. We had a very memorable experience learning how Italians have made pasta for generations. Sandra was warm and welcoming. We instantly felt at home in her kitchen. Her cooking lesson was energetic, fun, and very informative. She was very thorough and patient with our two boys, Maddox and Henry, as she helped guide and teach them through the pasta making experience.
Click here for the full post on Sandra and learn how you can visit her for your own Roman pasta making experience! I know you will love the experience as much as we did!
Sharif the Guide in Florence
Sharif loves to share his beautiful city of Florence with people from all over the world. He has been a licensed tour guide since 2015 and working in the tourism industry since 2013. Sharif brings history and art alive with his energetic nature and passion for storytelling. He welcomes children on his tours and loves to meet new people of all ages from around the world.
Sharif has a tour for all visitors and will plan to suit your needs or desires. He is very flexible and willing to work with his guests to ensure that everyone has a wonderful time!
Sharif has several tours, which are all customizable. Contact him for more options. To see more information about what Sharif has to offer check out the full post here.
Anna with Cooltours offers family friendly Tuscan wine tours, farm to table products and sightseeing in beautiful Tuscany. Car seats available!
Join Anna in comfort and style in her 8-passenger air-conditioned Mercedes Van. She provides Food & Wine Tours and Guided Sightseeing from a local Tuscan perspective by bringing visitors to unforgettable experiences with warm Tuscan families and local award-winning wine producers.
Anna offers a multitude of tours and experiences, including food and wine tours and experiences and sightseeing tours. All of her tours can be private or semiprivate based on your desires and party size. For More information about all that Anna has to offer, click here to see the full post.
Where to Stay
Relais Ortgalia a Family Friendly Tuscan Villa!
Relais Ortaglia is much more than a place to stay! Visitors can quickly become immersed in the day to day activities of an active Tuscan Villa complete with an organic olive grove. Relais Ortaglia has many family-friendly activities and opens kids and families with open arms.
Kid Friendly Activities
Hot Air Ballooning From Front Lawn At Relais Ortaglia
Horseback Ride thru the Vineyards
Private Dinner In The Vineyard
Weddings By Our Infinity Pool Overlooking The Vineyards
Olive Picking in the Fall
Hike the Tuscan Hills
E-Bike To The Vineyard
and so much more... click here to see the full list!
Cecilia with Taste Venice
Cecilia is ready to welcome visitors to Venice! Taste Venice offer tours away from the crowds for a more local experience.
Taste Venice offers experiences listed include Food & Wine Tours, Food & Wine Experiences, and Cooking Classes. I reached out to Cecelia about allowing kids on her tours; she assured me that kids are welcome and that she could sub in soda and gelato for kids!
"I think that wine is a pleasure and I love sharing this passion that I have in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere – and is there a more beautiful location than Venice to do this?" - Cecilia, tastevenice.it