Travelling with Pets

Summer in the Alps with your four-legged friend

The French Alps make a paw-fect year-round destination, especially for your pet

Grab life over 50 blogger Emma Hetherington shares her French Alps itinerary, bringing along her Jack Russell Jacob too for a pawsome holiday.

With our grown-up kids all working this summer, we decided instead to take our dog Jacob along on our latest holiday to the French Alps. We chose Le Shuttle to get to France as it meant we could stay in the car with the dog during the journey. And what a joy! With a bit of preparation before we set off, and given the French are very dog-friendly, we discovered a great four-legged holiday companion.

We were concerned it might be a long drive for our miniature Jack Russell Jacob (680 miles to be exact) from Twickenham to the French Alps. But with a bit of planning for dog-friendly stop-overs along the way it was actually really enjoyable and stress-free for me, my husband John and Jacob too. And the rewards of the stunning scenery when we got to mountains - and the sunny, Alpine outdoors for Jacob to run around in - more than made up for the long journey.

Outbound Stopover – Arras

Where in France: Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France
Drive from Calais: 108.9km / 1h 15m

Arras makes a brilliant first stop, which is not far from Calais.
Arras makes a brilliant first stop, which is not far from Calais.

No more than a couple of hours from Calais, we stopped overnight in a dog-friendly Ibis hotel right in the centre of this beautiful market town. With its two huge squares, surrounded by narrow, tall, medieval-style houses, there were plenty of streets to explore and outdoor cafes and restaurants to take in the lively summer evening nightlife. Although the original wooden houses in Arras were destroyed during the course of two World Wars, the town has kept to the spirit of the originals in the rebuilding.

At the Ibis it did feel strange the first time we walked Jacob through reception, into the lift and up to our hotel room. But this is France. And they love dogs.

French Alps destination - Thollen-les-Memises

Where in France: Haute-Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Drive from Calais: 881.4km / 8h 35m

There’s no bigger ‘walkies’ destination than the French Alps!
There’s no bigger ‘walkies’ destination than the French Alps!

This pretty, rustic village ribbons its way up a quiet road above Evian Les Bains in the Haute Savoie. Offering stunning views across Lake Geneva and lots of invigorating walks in the mountains, it was a perfect spot to meet up with the whole family for a week. Staying in a Swiss-style chalet, nestled underneath the towering cliffs of the mountain above, Jacob loved it. He happily travelled in the cable car from the village into the peaks above, exploring Alpine meadows filled with the sound of tinkling cow bells and lots of interesting and very different smells from back home in Twickenham.

Doggy days out

Evian Les Bains

Just down the winding mountain road from Thollon-les-Memises is the famed spa town of Evian. This is a lovely place for a day out with a dog. There are plenty of opportunities to amble around the pretty streets, explore its Art Nouveau spa building, lake-side hotels, cafes and casino. We took the rickety funicular railway up the hill for more views over Lake Geneva to Lausanne. As you’d expect in France, most of the local cafes were very happy to accommodate a dog whenever we stopped for a coffee or a glass of wine.

Ancient Yvoire

A tiny, walled town on the French shores of Lake Geneva, it is worth a visit if you’re in the area – just be prepared to share the place with a lot of other visitors during the summer!

John, myself and Jacob in Ancient Yvoire.
John, myself and Jacob in Ancient Yvoire.

Big cities generally aren’t great when you have a dog in tow. But there is plenty of lovely outdoor scenery to admire in Geneva and of course the lake shore itself to walk around. It took us about an hour to drive across the border to Geneva from Thollen. Jacob enjoyed the views of the Jet D’Eau (the giant fountain in the lake itself) and was very happy to ride-along on the tourist train that took us up into the ancient heart of the city, accompanied by an interesting commentary about the history of the place.

Return Stopover – Troyes

Where in France: Aube, Grand Est
Drive from Calais: 396.4km / 3h 49m

On the return journey at the end of our holiday we chose another historic town about three hours drive north from Evian Les Bains to stop over. The Ibis here was bigger and more modern than the one we stayed in Arras – but gave the same warm welcome to the dog. Unlike Arras, Troyes has kept its original medieval buildings. It’s very charming with its wonky, wooden-framed houses, old churches and of course plenty of cafes to watch the world go by.

Historic Troyes is also a very dog-friendly destination.
Historic Troyes is also a very dog-friendly destination.

It turned out that Jacob is a born traveller. What impressed us most was how he handled lots of different types of transport. It didn’t occur to me to think about this before we set off – but as a nervous dog he doesn’t usually take well to unfamiliar and noisy surroundings.

Yet on every mode of transport he tried, from a clunky funicular and hooting steamboat to swaying telecabine and crowded tourist train, he didn’t make a murmur. Could it be that he so appreciated being included on this trip to France that he decided to behave? We’re looking forward to taking him with us again. He’s a great travel companion.

If Jacob’s pawsome travels has left you (and your furry friend!) feeling inspired, Remember to book your tickets with us early to take advantage of the best prices.