Jardin du Luxembourg has a dog-friendly area. Look out for the dog statue!
© Flickr user Varvara
So you’ve packed up the car and your suitcases and you’re about to set off on your French winter retreat. Your gloves and scarves are in the boot and the tickets are booked, but there’s one wet-nosed furry friend missing. We know that some holidays just aren’t the same without your pooch. Luckily we’ve come up with some dog-friendly visits for you to make on your next trip to France. So, windows down? Tail wagging? On y va (Let’s go)!
Strasbourg's La Petite France
On a lead: Yes
Petite France is the history-soaked centre of the eastern city of Strasbourg and resembles something of a fairytale. Take yourselves back in time through its quaint canals, cobblestone streets and half-timbered buildings. Its storybook-like charm makes it the perfect place for a stroll with the pooch on a winter’s day.La Petite France
© Flickr user Robert Cutts
You can’t miss the bustling lanes of shops, offering a number of delicacies including chocolate, nougat and cheese. Shopkeepers are friendly to visitors, offering samples before you make a (reasonably-priced) purchase. If you find yourselves there in December, be sure to visit the annual Christmas market. Its sparkling lights give the city a surreal feel and with a mug of Chaud Vin (hot wine) in gloved-hands, you’re bound to fall in love with this exquisite location. There are an abundance of pet friendly hotels dotted around the city for you to make the most out of your stay.
Parc du Château de Pourtalès
On a lead: No
For those history buffs, the charming Château de Pourtalès is one of North Strasbourg’s main attractions and certainly worth a visit. Having had a number of high profile visitors including Kind Ludwig of Bavaria and Prince Napoleon, it has been said that it’s impossible to visits the Château just once. If you fancy a stopover, the hotel is dog-friendly (though we’d book well in advance around Christmas time) and offers luxury spa and sauna facilities.
The grounds are surrounded by scenic gardens and parks, the perfect environment for your pooch. From the tiny ponds and idyllic streams to the surreal statues interspersed amongst the trees, there’s a good chance that during your visit to the grounds you might not come across anybody else – perfect for a peaceful family jaunt! Stop for a warm drink at the restaurant near the entrance if you’re feeling a little chilly – the property has been rated one of the best for value in Strasbourg. Many of the staff speak English, so if you need a break from your broken skills in French, this could be a great relief stop.Parc du Château de Portalès
© Flickr user Andrew Ross
On a lead: Yes
Every day is Christmas Day in Strasbourg when the Christkindelsmärik comes to town. The market is Strasbourg’s most popular arts and craft fair. It’s been running every year since 1570, so it’s certainly learned the tricks of the trade (as you’d expect, what with it being the oldest Market in France!). If you’re not in the mood to reach into your pockets for some tasty stocking-fillers, the stalls of traditional trinkets and snacks are picturesque enough for you to simply walk around and soak up the Christmas spirit with your pooch. Maps are usually handed out by the merchants, so if your dog’s a little bit people-shy, you’ll be able to weave your way out of the crowds! Strasbourg Christkindelsmarik
© Flickr user Vincent Desjardins
Jardin du Luxembourg
On a lead: Not needed in dog allocated area
For those who enjoy the stark beauty of winter and find themselves roaming the streets of Paris on their visit, located in the 6th arrondissement is the Jardin du Luxembourg. It’d be a shame to miss it, simply because there’s an allocated area for dogs found in the east side of the park. There are signs pointing this out but they’re small, so make sure to keep an eye out.
Described by some as the epitome of the capital, the grounds are a hot spot for pooches and people alike; they offer the perfect break from the hustle and bustle of Parisian life. Wrap up warm, find a spot to sit and enjoy a hot drink whilst time seems to stand still and you admire your stunning surroundings. The park is closed around 5pm during the winter because of the lack of light – a note to put in your itinerary. Here, the dogs must share a path with runners – trying to locate the dog statue is a fun game to play!
PAWS-AND-THINK WINTER TIPS:
- ONLY SMALL DOGS ARE ALLOWED ON THE METRO AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT
If you own a small dog, feel free to use buses, trams, the Metro and the RER. If your pooch is a little on the large size, the Metro is a no-go zone. Large dogs are not allowed on trams or buses but can be taken on the RER if on a lead and muzzled (just remember you’ll need a half-price ticket for the dog!). If you find yourself needing a taxi, be sure to mention this to the operator when booking to ensure your ride is pet-friendly.
- SOME BEACHES DO NOT ALLOW DOGS
Everybody loves a long winter’s stroll along the beach. The only thing is, you and your furry friends are not given free rein across all of them. It would be best to check online before your visit to know just how much access is given to families and their pets.
- NATIONAL PARKS DO NOT ALLOW DOGS
There are six national parks in France (Cévennes, Écrins, Mercantour, Port-Cros, Pyrénées and Vanoise): all, apart from Cévennes (which allows dogs on leads), have a ban on dogs. However, there are many other mountain regions that are open to dogs, provided that they are kept under control. It would be best to do your research before you visit.
- IF YOUR DOG IS FRIGHTENED OF FIREWORKS
If you find yourself staying near a firework display, be sure to close all windows and curtains to muffle out the sound. Playing music helps to distract from the loud noises, as well as ensuring your dog has somewhere to hide if they get over-stressed. Ensure your environment is secure so that there’s nowhere your pooch can escape to.
Luckily France has a great number of dog-friendly places for you to stay. Click here for a list!
Some useful French phrases:
Is my dog permitted?
Est-ce que les chiens sont autorisés ici?
(In shops and bakeries)
(Est-ce que) je peux entrer avec mon chien?
No dogs (even on a lead)
Pas de chien, même tenus en laisse.
Getting to France with your dog
Travel from Folkestone with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle and you'll arrive in Calais just 35 minutes later. Don't forget the pet passports!