Dog-Friendly France: Travelling in France with a Dog

Dog-friendly France

The French have a reputation for loving their dogs. So no wonder then that France is a popular destination for people travelling with their dogs, whether from across the Channel in the UK or further away.

But despite this reputation, France isn’t the most dog-friendly country that we’ve visited in Europe. While your dog will generally be welcome by your side as you sip a wine in a cafe or eat the menu du jour inside, there are some places in France where dogs are strictly forbidden (mainly manicured parks) or technically not allowed (up until recently the case for larger dogs on the Paris metro, although luckily sensibility has prevailed).

So if you’re heading to France with your dog, read on to find out about the ins and outs about travelling in France with a dog.

Preparations to Take Your Dog to France

Outside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Taking your dog to France is easy! The same rules apply for dogs visiting France as for dogs travelling to the rest of the EU (usually microchip, vaccinate for rabies and wait at least 21 days), although usually this isn’t checked when crossing the border into France from the rest of the EU.

Note that restrictions can apply on some “dangerous” dog breeds visiting France – check the note at the end of this post.

Travelling to France with Your Dog

For details on how to take your dog to France, whether from the UK, the USA or the rest of the EU, read my full guide, including transport recommendations.

Dining out in France with a Dog

Dog-friendly France

Plenty of cafes in France provide water bowls for dogs

In France, most restaurants and cafes allow dogs to join diners, both inside and out on the terrace. If you would like to dine inside with your dog, it is polite to ask first (unless you see other dogs dining inside). And if the weather is sunny or your dog doesn’t have the best manners, it is more polite to sit outside on the typically large terraces. Over three visits to France, there’s only one time that our dog wasn’t allowed: sitting outside (not even inside!) a kebab shop in Strasbourg.

While travelling in France, we often took advantage of the cheaper lunchtime set menus, found at many restaurants around the country. Alternatively at lunchtime, we often bought delicious baguette sandwiches at the wonderful French bakeries.

As well as bakeries in the centre of town, there’s typically larger bakeries on the outskirts of large towns, complete with car parks, like a French alternative to a fast food restaurant! While the majority of these bakeries don’t allow dogs inside, we found an exception.

The Boulangeries Feuillette chain has multiple branches around the centre of France, including the Loire Valley. While a little more expensive than other boulangeries, it usually had both outdoor and indoor seating (often complete with comfy couches and fireplace!), and our dog was allowed to join us inside at multiple branches. It’s also a great spot to enjoy a coffee and pastry.

Shopping in France with a Dog

Travel to France with dog

Schnitzel’s favourite form of shopping in Paris!

If heading out shopping with your dog, your best bet is to visit small boutiques directly on the streets and pedestrian precincts. Some shopping centres allow dogs, but not all. I must admit that I don’t think that shopping centres are as common in France as some other European countries, or at least I rarely visited any! Naturally, dogs are not allowed in supermarkets.

Taking a Dog on Public Transport in France

This is one area where France has previously not been as dog-friendly as other countries in Europe, although the situation has improved.

In Paris, small dogs are allowed on all forms of public transport (bus, metro, RER (train), trams and funicular) for free, but are meant to be carried in a bag or container. However, in practice, I believe as long as they are genuinely small and not making a nuisance, you can get away with travelling with them on your lap without a bag.

We sometimes travelled with our dog on the metro like this, and saw other small dogs on laps, and encountered no issues.  Larger dogs are only allowed on the metro and RER (train), not buses or trams, must be leashed and muzzled, and require a reduced ticket. For the full rules, click here.

For other cities in France, the regulations vary. In some cities, only small dogs in a bag or basket are allowed on public transport. This is stated in the rules for Marseille and Lyon (during our visit in 2018). In this case, these small dogs travel for free. In contrast, there is no such restriction for Bordeaux, with the regulations only stating dogs must be leashed or transported in a basket. There is also no mention of a ticket being required.

The rules usually also include some terms that the dogs cannot make any mess or inconvenience other passengers. If your dog is also classified as a “dangerous” breed of dog (see the note above), they are also usually not permitted on public transport.

If taking long distance trains, the rules are more consistent. All sized dogs are allowed on all types of trains, except for the Eurostar. For dogs larger than 6kg, on TGV, Intercités and TER trains the applicable fare is 50% of the 2nd class fare (even if you are in 1st class). There are pet-specific fares for other types of trains. Dogs must also be muzzled.

For dogs smaller than 6kg, they must travel in a container smaller than 45 cm x 30 cm x 25 cm. While such dogs usually travel for free in most other trains in Europe, in France there is a set €7 charge. If you have bought your tickets online through one of the many ticketing sites, allow time to stop off at the ticket counter before your journey to buy the extra ticket for your dog.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in France

Dog-friendly accommodation France

A stylish dog-friendly hotel in Paris

A wide variety of accommodation in France is dog-friendly, from hotels to B&Bs to Gîtes to campgrounds. (In my recent investigation, 50% of hotels in Nice and 37% of hotels in Paris allow dogs.)

If you’re on a road trip, we found that many of the chain hotels located on the outskirts of cities were quite affordable and dependable, plus allowed dogs. This included the chains Ibis, B&B and Campanile. Usually the prices were about €50 per night, not including breakfast, with an extra charge of around €5 for a dog. On the other hand, many fancy hotels also welcome dogs, and will be ready to treat them, for a price of course.

With Gîtes, including those bookable through Airbnb, we noticed that often linen (sheets and towels) are not included, or an extra fee is chargeable for their hire. Keep this in mind if you are not travelling with your own sheets and towels, and double check the details, as you could otherwise get a surprise when you go to check in.

For some of my dog-friendly recommendations, from luxury hotels in Paris to Gîtes in the countryside, click here. I’ve also included some dog-friendly options in my list of romantic Airbnbs in Paris.

Dog-Friendly Parks in France

Dogs not allowed in parks in France

No dogs allowed in this park in Avignon (even with a leash)

Compared to other countries in Europe, dogs are a lot less likely to be permitted in parks in France, especially in Paris. When we last stayed in an apartment in Paris, there were two parks located on the same street – both of which had clear signs banning dogs at the entrance!

However, dog friendly parks can be found, including in Paris. If you have trouble finding one, ask your accommodation or search online.

Note: As of January 2019, more city parks in Paris will be changing their rules to allow dogs. However, dogs will still be required to be on leash, plus this won’t apply to parks with playgrounds. Fore more details, read this news article.

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in France

While there’s no chance of your dog joining you on a visit to the Louvre or climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, there are plenty of dog-friendly sightseeing options available for you to visit with your dog in France. We did however find that France is a country where you need to check the rules at each individual tourist destination.

Want to visit a famous Château with your dog? Many in the Loire Valley permit dogs on their grounds, and Chenonceau even allows small dogs to be carrier inside. However, at Versailles dogs are prohibited from the formal gardens, the same at Fontainebleau.

Not all Roman amphitheatres in France allow dogs inside

Even when it comes to Roman-era amphitheatres, dogs are permitted inside the one at Nîmes (or at least Schnitzel kindly was), but not at the one in Arles.

To save yourself the research, I’ve put together a list of 12 dog-friendly things to do in France, covering nearly every corner of the country.

A Note on Dangerous Dog Classifications

In France, some breeds of dogs are classified as dangerous and generally these types of dogs cannot be imported into France (class 1) or restrictions apply (class 2). The rules are not that clear when it comes to travelling through France with such a breed of dog, compared to permanently moving. (If you have experience in this area, let me know!) But be prepared for possible issues, including such dogs may be prohibited on public transport or be restricted when flying French airlines.

These dogs are classified as Class 1 (and cannot be imported):

  • Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire terrier (“Pitbulls”) and Tosa dog types without a pedigree
  • Any Mastiff dog types

Thes dogs are classified as Class 2 (and can be imported with restrictions, such as needing to wear a leash and muzzle in public):

  • Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire terrier (“Pitbulls”) and Tosa dog types WITH a pedigree
  • Rottweiler dog types, with or without a pedigree

Read more about the dangerous dog rules for France or my full guide on travelling with a dog breed classified as dangerous

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France Dog-Friendly Travel

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  • Reply
    Rhonda Albom
    July 14, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    I had no idea France was so dog-friendly. I love that shot of your dog in Carcassonne.

    • Reply
      July 15, 2018 at 4:10 am

      Nearly everywhere in Europe is pretty dog-friendly, even the countries that aren’t as dog friendly are way in front of my home country of Australia. It’s going to be hard adjusting back when we return at the end of the year!

  • Reply
    Sam Bennett
    July 16, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    What is it like for taking dogs into churches is that a no go even if you carry them in. Im guessing the big cathedrals dont let them it was more churches. Thanks.

    • Reply
      July 17, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      Most churches throughout Europe, at least those popular with tourists, will have “no dogs” signs at the entrance (along with the usual signs about no food, no camera flashes, etc.) I have a few times noticed locals, probably regular members of the congregation, take small dogs inside, but I think different rules apply to them, than to tourists. However, there was one well-known church in Germany that allowed my husband to take our dog inside (it was a chilly day, and a staff member noticed him standing at the entrance with our dog in his arms, while I firstly went inside, and told him it was okay). So it might be worthwhile trying, but I’m guessing you would normally receive a no, unless you are a local.

    • Reply
      October 24, 2019 at 10:30 am

      What a lovely blog post!😊🐶🇫🇷 I hope to move to France in the medium-term therefore this was an interesting read. Happy travels with Schnitzel!

      • Reply
        October 28, 2019 at 10:13 am

        Sarah – Thanks so much and wishing you many wonderful adventures with your dog!

  • Reply
    Jilly Richardson
    March 29, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Hi – thought you might be the best person to ask with your in-depth knowledge of travelling with dogs on France … hope you don’t mind me asking …

    Me and my Irish Setter are sailing back to the uk from Le Havre on Monday (1st April) and I want to be there in plenty of time … Have you any suggestions where I might be able to spend 2 or 3 hours, maybe eating drinking, walking & feeding the dog please? When I come the other way, from Portsmouth, I get there very early, and spend a few hours at a lovely pub-restaurant next to a golf course, where I can relax, eat, and feed and walk the dog.

    Just haven’t got a clue where to start, and not sure what kinds of places exist in France, and within, say, half an hour of ale Havre.

    I’m very grateful …. ??

    • Reply
      March 30, 2019 at 7:29 am

      I’ve actually stayed in La Havre myself with my dog, although it was because the city is surprisingly a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its modern architecture! If you are interested in architecture, it’s worth a stroll around. The highlight is the towering St Joseph’s Catholic Church, but you need to duck inside to see the stained glass from within (I alternated with my husband to stay with our dog). The Place de l’Hotel de Ville is a lovely square in springtime to sit in, but I’m not sure if there’s any cafes. In France I’m always a fan of heading to a bakery, for either croissants or the pre-made baguettes. I hope this may be of some help!

  • Reply
    fiona ellis-chadwick
    May 2, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    We love travelling with Bella our springer spaniel, since we rescued her she has totally changed how we travel – long and short haul holiday by plane are a thing of the past. But that is no great loss as walking with Bella in forests, on remote beaches and in rivers and lakes is great. This year will be our third holiday to France with Bella (she enjoyed the Netherlands too- especially travelling the tram) and she has now learned about the French etiquette when enjoying cafe society, she no longer feels compelled to growl when anyone approaches our table. When we stay in hotels, we find it is useful to ask for a quiet room at the end of a corridor, so that Bella can curl up and enjoy and evening snooze if we are going to have dinner (if doggies are not allowed in the dinning room). Usually leave the TV on for her, she knows this is a signal for her to chill and that we will be back soon. Thank you for your info on visiting parks and gardens, we will be visiting Fontainbleu on this trip so really useful to know Bella cannot walk in the gardens.

    • Reply
      May 3, 2019 at 8:46 am

      Thanks for sharing about your travels with Bella! We’ve often also asked for a quiet room with Schnitzel, although he has improved from our early days. It’s a pity about Fontainbleu – I would love it if France could be a bit more accomodating with their beautiful gardens.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2019 at 5:31 am

    how is it taking dog in the beach in france? 🙂 is there any like the best beach to go which isnt dirty but clean water ?

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 7:24 am

      We haven’t been to many beaches in France with our dog, as the weather wasn’t warm enough and our dog is actually a terrible swimmer, who’s not too fond of getting wet. A lot of beaches allow dogs in winter, but then come summer once they have lifeguards and sunbeds, dogs aren’t allowed. I’ve come across this list of year-round dog-friendly beaches which seems long: Out of these, we’ve visited Omaha Beach (a D-Day landing site), which is fairly clean, although it was low tide so the water was a long way away.

  • Reply
    January 5, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    Dogs have to be muzzled on long distance trains? I wonder how this rules apply to a brachiocephalic breed like a Frenchie?

    • Reply
      January 8, 2020 at 8:48 am

      There are specific muzzles for breeds like Frenchies – see my post on dog muzzles: I would always have a muzzle on hand for your dog, but for most smaller dogs this is not enforced.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2020 at 8:00 am

    So larger dogs dont need to have a cage?

    • Reply
      June 25, 2020 at 7:49 pm

      Generally larger dogs only need a leash on public transport, plus sometimes a muzzle.

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