Dog Travel Blog

Real life experience of travel with dogs and Pet Passports in France

Is France dog friendly?

January13

Culturally, definitely.  Bureaucratically, perhaps not.  We have travelled to many parts of France now and we are noticing that more restrictions regarding dogs are coming into play.  On the coast, we have visited areas where there have been sensible restrictions on the beaches – dogs banned in the summer months only, only on parts of the beach closest to facilities (walk a few metres down the beach and dogs are welcome).  However, when visiting Northern Brittany in 2012, we were astounded to find that on very nearly all of the beaches we came across (from big open beaches to small out-of-the-way coves) dogs were banned all year round.  Locals told us that this was a new regulation and that they ignored it during the winter months but, to us, it spells trouble.

Dogs are also completely banned from vast areas within the mountainous National Parks (see our travels in 2012 for more information) making long hikes along the GR routes completely impossible.  You’ll also find that, when following a walking route in ordinary countryside, if a footpath runs through a field with grazing livestock, dogs will quite possibly be ‘interdit’.

On the other hand, dogs are welcome in hotels, restaurants and bars.  We’ve even seen them helping with the shopping in supermarkets.  In that respect, things are very much more relaxed than in the UK.

The French themselves seem to love dogs and always make a beeline towards ours to say hello.  It breaks the ice with many of them and we have had lovely conversations with them about dogs.  Even French people without dogs have been very welcoming in our experience.  But there does seem to be a trend of more restrictions being put into place which, to us, is disappointing.

This link is very good for dog friendly beaches (or enter ‘chiens et plages’ on your search engine for lots of similar information).

posted under | 38 Comments »

38 Responses to “Is France dog friendly?”

  1. When traveling with your dog in france do you have to keep your dog in a cage at all times when driving

    • Editor says:

      Not to our knowledge. :-)

      • Joanne says:

        No not at all. We travel several times a year by Eurostar with our dog & she happily sits in the back of the car. Same when driving in France. The French are far more dog friendly than in the UK and many restaurants will allow a dog on the premises.

  2. EDDIEL YON says:

    hi we are going to france this summer with the dog for the first time in our car we need to travel from the tunnel to the south for about 3-4 weeks in b and b and m/b homes ect ect is there a book or information.
    we keep an open mind

    date july-ish
    ps i might buy a caravan ??

  3. Dennis Ainscough says:

    Hi, just writing to say a big thank for your consideration and thoughtfulness in writing all this information for the benefit of others. I’m sure many,many people are grateful.

    Sincere best wishes,

    Dennis

  4. Anne Main says:

    Hi
    Thanks so much for your blog. We travel to Spain every Dec – March sometimes April and take our dogs. We go eurotunnel and drive down through France. We have managed to find dog friendly beaches in boulogne, Capbreton and Narbonne.
    Next year we are hoping to stay around Loire Valley or Dordogne area and wondered if you have any knowledge of beaches along this stretch of France.
    Many thanks Anne

  5. Katherine says:

    May I ask where you have found dog friendly beaches near Narbonne as we will be staying near there later this month?
    Many thanks, Katherine

  6. Patawouf says:

    Hi!

    There is an english translation for the dog’s friendly beaches in France ;)

    Follow this link : http://blog.patawouf.fr/dog-friendly-beaches-in-france-in-2013/

  7. karen says:

    Hi there,
    we’ve been to southern Brittany 2yrs running with our dog now although we to have noticed the new restrictions with been able to use the quieter beaches with no problems.
    Trinite sur le mare
    Benedet

  8. Lesley Matthews says:

    Hi Martin,

    I live in Brittany and see plenty of dogs travelling in cars… Front seat, back seat. Also roaming, chasing cars… Sitting in the road..It’s a doggy free for all.
    There do seem to be more restrictions on beaches now but out of high season no one seems to take much notice. I have never been stopped. The biggest problem when walking in rural areas seems to be farm dogs and strays and a number of friends now carry pepper spray or a walking stick.

    Also the processional caterpillars where out in force on the south coast this summer which was a bit scary.
    Happy New Year and happy travelling

    • Editor says:

      Thank you for such a brilliant comment – it’s always terrific to hear from people with direct experience/knowledge. :-)

    • Bev Smith says:

      Hi Lesley,
      You mentioned that last year the processional caterpillars were out in force in the South. Was this in the south of France or did you mean South Brittany? We are intending holidaying with our dog in June/July in Brittany but am very concerned about these horrible creepies!

  9. Janice Forsythe says:

    Hi

    We travel to France every year and have been very disappointed with these restrictions as our dog loves to run free on the beach – he squeals with excitement when he sees it and it’s so disappointing for us all to keep him on a leash.

    We went to Brittany last year and it was so difficult to find anywhere to walk him. Also, to start off with, we didn’t even notice the signs so if you are going please make sure you understand the restrictions. That’s during the summer months from May to September.

    We hope to travel down through Ile de Re to the Dordogne this year. We normally camp so if anyone knows of a dog friendly campsite with a dog friendly beach right on the doorstep in these regions it would be really useful.

    We have also noticed that the price of the French campsites are extremely expensive – especially the British owned ones. We used the flowercampings.com and they seem to be quite reasonable but we didn’t have the dog with us that year. We were able to take the dog to Eurocamp last year but they only have certain campsites suitable for dogs.

    It all seems like a minefield and every year we seem to start all over again as we like exploring and going to new places. Any tips would be welcome.

    Thanks

    J

  10. J Thornton says:

    Hello,
    very disappointing to hear about the restrictions for dogs on beaches in Brittany. We are all booked to go now with our dog in August so we will have to just give it a go.
    My question is, how will we know if a beach allows dogs or not, are there signs that advise? I have looked at the link on this page but it only names a few beaches and as it’s a surf trip we’ll be visiting many beaches.
    Many thanks

    • Editor says:

      There will be signs on the beaches or that’s what we found anyway :(

    • Ray Wright says:

      Did you find any dog friendly beaches with no restrictions? We are travelling to Brittany in April 2016 and would like to know where to let our 2 black Labradors run free. Could you get back to me by email please at ray.wright27@yahoo.com . Many thanks.

      • Editor says:

        We didn’t find many! Dog friendly beaches which stick in our mind are Gâvres and its peninsula, Guidel Plages and Erqy. The whole of Finistere seems to be very dog unfriendly I’m afraid. We probably won’t go back to Brittany again now. :-(

  11. Hannah says:

    Hey,
    Really disappointed to hear about the dog restrictions on the beaches, having looked at the site suggested above i can’t find any beaches where dogs are allowed off lead in the off season, does anyone know of any?
    thanks

  12. Matt says:

    Hello,

    Thanks for the info! My wife and I are early risers (even on holiday – sad, I know). If we were to let our dog run free at around 6am on a “plage interdit aux chiens”, would we get into trouble?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  13. Lesley Matthews says:

    You should be fine walking you dog early morning or later in the evening. I have just returned from the Crozon Peninsular and was amazed at the numbers of dogs on the beach. Just stay clear of the town beaches and head for quieter places

  14. A very useful blog – I hope it continues to be used … We went to the Dunkirk area in Aug 2013 and dogs were allowed on the beach then – not sure now though. Our holiday in Alsace was great – dogs pretty much allowed everywhere – tracks, paths everywhere. I am wondering about 2015 though – we are going to the Dordogne with our dog and were wondering about day kennels for visiting some of the caves and other attractions – any recommendations would be gratefully received! Or perhaps there might be something at the tourist site itself – anyone have any knowledge of this?? We are camping and have noticed nearly all camp sites allow dogs – so have booked what looks like a lovely one near the river.

    • Jessica Gadsby says:

      Hello,
      We’re planning to go to Alsace this summer with two kids and a dog, are there any highlights you would recommend? Also, any advice on accommodation?
      Many thanks!

      • jacqui middleton says:

        Where shall I start … there is so much to see … but the thing we enjoyed most were the abundant “Chateaux troglodyte” – basically narrow red sandstone chateaux fortresses that are dug into the rock fabric of the area. Many are just “in the woods”. Those that you pay to visit are very cheap – look up Chateau Fleckenstein (it is in walking distance of at least three others – all free in the woods!) – wonderful walks with the dog). The part of Alsace we visited was the north on the German border. I recommend Lembach as a pretty little centre and minor provisions. Our main local shopping small town was Biche (nothing big in this part). We were camping just in Lorraine (on the Alsace border) – in a camp site called Muhlenbach. They also do chalets (it depends how posh you are – you might find this type of place a bit “naff”). I personally love it – it is very much a “bonjour madam” type of place and not an English person anywhere!! It has its own “etang” to swim in – I used the etang twice a day. Fishing also if you are so inclined. I think we saw an English car once the whole time we were in this region – so again it depends whether you prefer a more “English” area – people are fairly weak at English speaking – but having said that they really make an effort to understand terrible French (in my case!). Mainly French, German and the ever present Dutch holiday in this part of France. As we camp it is very cheap – not sure about other accommodation. If you don’t mind chalets – you would not go far wrong with Muhlenbach – … it is gated so very secure from theft (and very quiet – has a noise curfew at about 9.00pm).
        Good luck
        Jacqui

      • Jessica Gadsby says:

        Wow, thanks for your reply Jacqui, that is really helpful! Cabins sound perfect, am getting excited!

  15. Daniel says:

    This place in the Dordogne certainly is http://dordogneholiday.co.uk/dog-friendly-dordogne/

    As for the rest of France, hit and miss, but generally in the Dordogne you’ll not be stigmatised. Bonnes vacances.

  16. lorraine says:

    Hi we are currently in france and have travelled from the alps through to Hornfleur. The alps were fantastic and so dog friendly. On the return journey we stopped in Dinard where restaurants were really good and helpfull we couldn’t find a beach where dogs were allowed. We travelled to the next town St Briac sur Mare where we found a small beach that was dog friendly,quiet and beautiful. The next beach we found was in Houlgate which had a dog friendly area but you wernt allowed to swim there but the dogs could.Totally agree with the comments already made and if we are taking the trouble to travel with our pets we are responsible owners. However that said following several conversations with French people they were stating that people are not very good at picking up after their dogs which we witnessed on quite a number of occasions. I fell they before we travel again to the beaches of france we need to do a lot more research .

    • jacqui says:

      August 2015
      Went to Dordogne and Loire area – very dog friendly – even took the dog on a canoe trip (collie)! Restaurant in Chatillon sur Loire even let the dog INTO the restaurant – great stuff. No restrictions on the rivers. You just have to find a shady spot for the dog for the museums (e.g. Lascaux car park and the Goufre de Padirac have lovely shaded car parks. Most gardens and open air attractions (such as ruined chateauxs) will allow dogs. All in all better than the UK …

    • Paul D says:

      There does seem to be a problem with pooper scooping in some areas. Last October (2016) we stayed in a m/h near Cayeux-sur-Mer on the Somme coast. Even then the beach was off limits but alongside the wooden boardwalk by the beach huts there was far to much poo left for the unwary to tread in.

      The local council had free poo bags at every access point from the road. As it was out of season I admit to taking a handful. They are bigger and thicker than the usual cheap ones from Pet R Us etc.

    • hannah says:

      hi – we’re planning on going to the alps this year with our two dogs. where about did you stay? would love to have any tips for staying and walking as struggling to find out on my own. thanks very much

  17. Menzies says:

    We are currently in France at a hotel that is supposedly dog friendly. The owner has indicated that the doy is not allowed near the pool area, not even on the grass by the pool stating that this is because of French Law and they could get into trouble. Has anyone else been told this, or are we being told fibs just to keep our very small dog away from other guests at the pool area?
    Thanks

  18. jacqui says:

    enjoy – it’s lovely

  19. ilovecats123 says:

    From my own experience the french dislike dogs, my exchange ran away at the sight of one and refused to enter a house with a dog #kindaawks?! #dogsarelife #feltkindapied #lovetoallmyfans #xoxox

  20. jacqui middleton says:

    I would not agree – I think it is even-Stevens – there are French and English dog-lovers and equally folk who do not like dogs (usually a child-hood trauma) both sides of the Channel(our English neighbours as an example). Out and about in France I found many folk who loved to meet and pat our dog – just as in this country. Restrictions (and beaches) are increasingly tight in the UK too – all to do with irresponsible dog owners leaving poo bags and other unsightliness all over the place – nothing to do with hating dogs (that’s my take anyway …). Love France; Love Britain; Love my dog!!! (Hate the poo bag fairy …) …

  21. stephanie rogers says:

    Hi. 8im desperately trying to stay near or on a dog friendly beach in west France in August? Potentially ile de re? But don’t know what region has dog friendly beaches…please can someone help! Trying to rent a house or stay in hotel on beach…where we can take dog for walk!

    • Editor says:

      France is very very un-dogfriendly with regard to beaches, certainly in August and, in some places, all year round. Check the link on our website which sets out which beaches are dog friendly and when and take it from there.

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