The weather this weekend has turned out to be perfect for Melbourne’s fabulous annual French Festival Paris to Provence! It’s back at the National Trust’s Como House only until this Sunday 20 November so enjoy it while it lasts.
The French pop up village market is a great outing for the family. After paying your entry fee, most things within the festival are free and this year’s festival is the biggest yet.
You’ll find Como House tours, workshops, food demonstrations with French chefs, films, fashion parades, photo exhibition and a children’s garden. Plus of course delicious French food and wine and lots of artisan French products, books, gifts and fashion to buy.
Agathe Patisserie is a blog favourite, a bakery business run by a French mother of three. Try her amazing croissants!
La Belle Miette are famous for their macarons but their creamy home made ice cream is worth trying too. Single original Madagascan chocolate, yum!
There’s more baguettes than you can poke a (bread) stick at and you can pair it with lots of choices of cheese and charcuterie.
We tried a delicious raclette melted over herbed potatoes.
The Children’s Garden is closer to the main area this year, with stalls, drop in craft activities (for a donation) plus tricolore face-painting and French story times at certain periods. The activities are more geared towards 3+ years ie children who can sit, draw and craft reasonably independently.
The animal farm is actually not near the Children’s Garden but tucked away at the other end of the festival, behind the portaloos. As such, it’s not super busy and away from the main action, making it a good spot for calm and respite.
The on site child-friendly cafe Stables of Como is open if you need a sit down meal and high chairs and there’s also a large playground in Como Park right outside the gate if you want to really tire the kids out.
My main tip is to get there as early as possible for the best experience. The crowds can be big (especially when the weather’s good) and if you have a pram it can be cumbersome to get around. Also parking is a hassle the busier it gets as it’s not especially close to public transport (Number 8 tram stop Williams Road is closest).
- arrive early when gates open for parking, fewer queues and smaller crowds;
- peak hour is approx midday. It can be really challenging with young kids as it gets crowded and there’s not a lot of seating;
- pram access involves stairs or grassy hills at times;
- some stalls only accept cash. ATM available on site with $3.50 withdrawal fee;
- use the entrance is at Lechlade Avenue. Free parking available in surrounding residential streets if you arrive early enough. Lechlade Avenue itself may be closed to traffic so don’t rely on it for parking or car access;
- at peak times parking is available at the bottom of Williams Road cnr Alexandra Avenue. It’s a hill climb to get to the entrance which could be hard with kids;
- on site cafe Stables of Como is open for normal service if you need a sit down meal. It has high chairs and a child-friendly menu; and
- portaloos are available or use the toilets at Stables of Como which are accessible and include a change table.