Before we move anywhere, the first thing K and I try and figure is how dog-friendly a city might be. As most of you already know, Mia, our beloved pooch, tops our priority list. So ensuring that she has enough space at home, open parks to run around in and is able to travel with us, is extremely important.
Dogs go everywhere in Paris
So far all the places we have lived in, have been excellent when it comes to being dog friendly. However, I must say, Paris tops the list. While both London & Johannesburg are a close second, in Paris, Mia is allowed inside everywhere, I mean literally EVERYWHERE , with the small exception of food (grocery stores). But even there, several larger stores usually have a small section inside where you can park your dogs! It’s no surprise that almost 50% of the households in Paris have pets and since most Parisians live in small apartments with no access to a garden or balcony, they take their pets everywhere they go.
Apartments and pets
Finding suitable and pet-friendly accommodation is always a struggle anywhere you go. While finding an apartment in Paris is likened to winning a lottery by many, finding one that is pet friendly does not worsen those odds. What I mean is that while finding accommodation in Paris is not easy in general, it does not get any more difficult just because you have a pet. This is because as per French law, pet owners are not obliged to disclose that they have pets! This means that if you like an apartment/house and your landlord is happy with your paperwork etc., the place is yours with or without pets. Of course if there is any damage caused at the end of your tenancy, your deposit will be making up for it.
Transport is key
Dogs are also allowed on the metro & RER trains that run through the city. As per law, larger dogs need to be on a lead and muzzled but the latter rule is rarely enforced. They are also allowed on the French trains (long distance) but you have to purchase a ticket, the price of which depends on the size/weight of the dog. For more information on this, you can visit this SNCF site. Please note that pets are not allowed on any Eurostar trains – how I wish the would change though.
Pets are also allowed in some taxis such as G7 (you can choose a pet friendly option) or in an Uber, if you message your driver and ask in advance. Disclaimer – I’ve never used Uber with Mia but some other people with smaller dogs have without a problem. I honestly prefer G7 and have never been disappointed.
It’s a shitty situation
While you see dogs everywhere in the city, you also see a lot of poo everywhere. For some unfortunate reason, dog owners don’t think its their responsibility to pick up after their dog. A habit I find most distressing especially since it means that when walking down beautiful Paris boulevards, one has to constantly look down instead of being able to admire the amazing architecture or the surroundings! I’ve actually stopped wearing nice shoes in this city for fear of having dog poo on them.
The park anomaly
There are a ton of parks and open spaces in Paris. But an odd thing is that until recently, most of the city’s parks did not allow dogs, even on a lead! This was most baffling for us and I’m sure for other pet owners too. Dogs are allowed in stores and restaurants but not in parks! This meant, that dogs could only be walked on the streets – no wonder that the streets are so littered! Fortunately, this rule was changed early last year and dogs are now allowed in most of the parks as long as they don’t have a children’s play area.
Mia is not a fan of the streets – loud cars and big vehicles really freak her out and walking her on a street has never been easy. When we were moving to Paris, we did not know this rule about parks and dogs. Fortunately for us, we had already decided to live next to one of the largest parks in Paris – the Bois de Boulogne, to the west of the city. This park, more like a wood really, is huge – 845 hectares and it’s divided into different sections. It has several lakes, beautiful manicured gardens, play areas, restaurants and even a theatre. But large parts of it have been left untouched with just walking and horse-riding tracks. This park has been a life saver for both Mia and me! She gets to run around freely come rain or shine. There is a similar park to the east of the city, called the Bois de Vicennes and it’s a haven for dogs and nature lovers.
When it comes to vets and vet bills, I’ve found France to be a lot cheaper than the UK. There are no dearth of vets in the city and it’s easy to find one close to where you live. Given my French or the lack of, I wanted to find an English speaking vet so that we didn’t really get lost in translation! These might be slightly difficult to find but there are quite a few in Paris and it’s best to check on some Expat group for recommendations. I go to Vet’16 where Mia always gets a lot of cuddles and treats whenever she visits!
There are a lot of emergency vets too that are open all across the city and can prove really valuable over weekends or after hours. We had to rush to one when Mia ruptured the inside of her throat once when playing with a stick. NEVER play with sticks guys.
As per French rules, dogs must have an identity chip or a microchip and they must be registered with the government agency, I-CAD. Your vet can help with this. A pet passport is also recommended in case you plan to travel with your dog to other countries. Pet insurance is another thing that good to have. You never know when you might need it.
It’s very easy to get out of Paris for day trips. In under an hour, you can visit beautiful villages and forests and all through summer there is a steady stream of people leaving the city to make the most of the long days. Given that dogs are allowed on trains, you don’t have to leave your furry friends behind in case you aren’t driving. More on such trips in another post coming soon!