How To Take Your Dog On Holiday To France
We're big advocates for family holidays, and as many of us consider our canine chums part of the family; we don't see why your four-legged friends should miss out on the fun. Plus, we're only a stone's throw, or a stick's throw, if you will, from France, which is pretty dog-friendly in most respects. So, if your eyes water at the thought of parting with your beloved pooch, here's how you can take them to France.
Pick up a pet passport
First things first, your dog will need a pet passport. While the name sounds trivial, this important document allows your pet to travel within the EU and re-enter the UK, if that is your home residence, on your return. If your vet doesn’t issue pet passports, ask them for the nearest that does, or contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency. On top of this, your dog will also need:
- a microchip
- tapeworm treatment - see more below
- a rabies vaccination - you'll need to make sure your pet is microchipped first or the vaccination won’t count. It is also worth noting that you must wait 21 days from the date of the rabies vaccination before travelling so it pays to be organised.
Outside of the EU, authorised vets issue official veterinary certificates instead of pet passports. This certificate allows your pet to enter any country in the EU, but you must arrive in an EU country within 10 days of the date that the certificate was issued.
Tapeworm treatment before return trip
Before returning home, a vet must treat your dog for tapeworm and record it in the pet passport or official veterinary certificate.
The treatment must have been given no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you enter the UK. Your dog can be refused entry or put into quarantine if you don't comply.
After the treatment has taken place, ensure that the vet has put the following details in the ‘Echinococcus treatment’ section of your dog’s pet passport or certificate:
- the name and manufacturer of the product
- the date and time the treatment took place
- their stamp and signature
Generally speaking, vet listings will be available at your nearest embassy or from the local Mairie (town hall) depending on where you're staying. If you head into town to find one, it is worth noting that vets surgeries are marked in France by a sign with a blue cross on it. Nearby vets will also be listed in the local yellow pages directories under ‘vétérinaires practiciens’. Don't forget, if you are staying in a villa then the owner, who may have a better knowledge of the area, could point you in the right direction. However, please do not rely on this.
Some useful websites include the Ordre des Vétérinaires Conseil Supérieur and the Fédération des Syndicats Vétérinaires de France. These websites are in French, but easily translatable using Google. Both sites boast search facilities to help you find a vet close to your holiday home.
Cost of the treatment varies depending on the vet as well as the breed/weight of the dog. Bearing this in mind, a sensible amount to allow in your holiday spends would be around €20 - €80 per pet.
As France is on our doorstep, the land of love is easily accessible by ferry, train and plane. However, when it comes to puppy love, it is worth scoping all the options to suss out the right travel plan for your very best friend. The key factors here being that your pet is transported safely and in comfort.
1. By sea - Brittany Ferries boasts a PETS travel scheme, which makes it relatively straightforward to take your pet across the Channel. The scheme allows microchipped dogs with the right paperwork and immunisations to pass into continental Europe without quarantine. During the crossing, your dog must stay in your car with you. Alternatively, if your route offers kennels then you will be given a key and can visit your dog at any time during the crossing. Its worth noting that your dog must be muzzled and on a lead at all times out of the kennel, as well as on arrival during checks at French and British ports. The cost per pet is £16.50 from the UK to France, and then £24.75 from France to the UK.
2. By plane - With the exception of guide or assistance dogs, most airlines do not allow dogs or pets to travel in the cabin with you. However, with prior approval from Air France's customer service, your dog can stay in the cabin if they weigh less than 8kg (including the transport bag or container). Most other dogs can be stored in the hold, if they weigh between 8 - 75kg. According to the Air France website, it costs €100 to store one pet in the hold, on flights within Europe.
3. Going underground - The Eurotunnel from Folkestone offers a stress-free route to Calais. Your whole family will be able to stay in the car for the 35-minute crossing and pets travel for just £19 per pet each way.
Unfortunately, Eurostar does not currently allow dogs other than registered guide or assistance dogs to board.
Doggy's dream destinations
Once you've arrived on French soil, we're sure that you and the pooch will be ready to let off some steam. Luckily, France is a country where dogs are welcome almost everywhere. So, whether you fancy cosmopolitan Paris, the unspoilt French countryside or a quiet coastal escape, you can rest assured that your dog will be welcomed with open arms.
If we were a dog fresh off public transport, the first thing we'd want to do is dip our paws in the water, so why not head to the beach?
We'd recommend picking quieter stretches of coastline. We're thinking Plouharne in Brittany, as it lets leashed dogs explore sand and sea all year round. If you prefer a beach that is a little wilder, Hattainville Beach in Les Moitiers-d'Allonne is great for long walks and boasts some huge sand dunes for the pups to play in.
Normandy is known for splendid seas and luscious rolling green countryside, making it a popular dog-friendly destination for all of the right reasons. Expect big views, and plenty of dogs for Fido to befriend.
Heading inland? Marvellous Monpazier is a charming medieval village, which will provide a picturesque backdrop for the most memorable holiday dog walks.
Given the nationwide tolerance of dogs, it probably won't come as much of a surprise that Paris is also a pretty safe bet. It may sound like a cliche, but dogs do hold a special place in Parisian society, which is good news for them, and you too. The city boasts reams upon reams of dog-friendly restaurants, as well as charming cafes for you to dip in and out of. Plus, we're sure you'll be able to find a little something for yourself in this cultural hub, too.