When bedtime arrives at home with my toddler, I start thinking about the books that I enjoyed as a little girl – and the locations that inspired them too! In true travel blog-style, I’ve chosen four famous children’s books and brilliant places to stay close to where they were written/ set. Why not use them to plan your next family holiday?
1. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
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The Madeline books are a series about a petite, outgoing redhead who attends a Catholic boarding school in Paris. Each one is beautifully written in rhyming couplets, including simple details about Madeline’s day to day life; probably why I (and many other little girls) identified with them so much! The various stories have also been translated into TV series and even feature films. As with most films adapted from books, I think the books are much better!.
While there isn’t a specific place or landmark in honour of Madeline, the beautiful Parisian streets, buildings and way of life are all part of Madeline’s background. Thanks to the efficient transport system in the French capital, exploring Paris is easy and stress-free – even with the kids in tow!
2. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
At five years old, orphan Heidi is taken by her aunt to live with her grandfather in the Swiss mountains. He keeps his distance from the other villagers, but happy Heidi makes friends with her neighbour Peter and his family, and the rest of the villagers grow to care about her a lot.
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At 8 she is taken to the city to be a companion to a wealthy, wheelchair-bound young girl, Clara. They become close friends but the housekeeper sees Heidi as a troublemaker and makes her miserable. Eventually though, Heidi does move back to her grandfather in the mountains and encourages him to become more involved with the church and the village again. This is a really uplifting story, and I remember wishing I had a friend like Heidi, and thinking how nice it would be to live in Heidi’s mountain village surrounded by nature and a close-knit community.
The municipality of Maienfeld is the inspiration behind the setting, with Heididorf as the mountain village where Heidi and her grandfather lived. It’s a 2-3 hour drive if you wish to visit, but the fresh alpine air, mountain views and natural beauty surrounding our parcs should suffice if you don’t!
3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The book that needs no introduction…As we all know, this book details the two years of Anne Frank’s short life that she spent hiding in a secret room in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Before her Jewish family were betrayed to the Nazi soldiers, they shared this space with 4 other people, one of whom was Peter. Anne came to care about Peter a great deal, and the diary chronicles, amongst other thoughts and feelings, her desire to be a great writer and to find a close, trusted friend, who she could share everything with.
After first reading this at primary school I became really interested in the Second World War, and while on the one hand I couldn’t believe how evil and narrow-minded people could be (the Nazis), I was also struck by how strong, kind and courageous people could be despite their circumstances – even little girls!
The Anne Frank Museum is located in the centre of Amsterdam and is absolutely worth a visit if you’re holidaying in Holland. It’s extremely popular though, welcoming about a million people each year! So I’d recommend you book your museum tickets online for an allotted time to avoid disappointment…
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4. Asterix by René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo
Set during the time of Julius Caesar, Asterix is a fictional character whose town of Armorica is still to be conquered by the Romans. This is largely thanks to the villagers having access to the local druid Getafix’s magic potion which gives superhuman strength to anyone who drinks it.
The comics tell stories about cunning warrior Asterix and his (less intelligent, overweight) friend Obelix and their adventures and encounters with various enemies both within their village and beyond. These stories were always fun and colourful and a nice little escape from everything else for a while.
Even if you’re not an Asterix fan, don’t let that stop you from having a family day out at Parc Asterix. While there are many of the comic’s famous characters present, there are rides and shows for all ages. There are also plenty of places to eat on the parc, or you could just take a picnic with you. What’s more, you don’t even need to take the car; there’s daily public transport that takes you right from parc to the gate! Perfect for holidays with kids.
Campsite in France: La Croix du Vieux Pont
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