Traveling with Pets & Helping Lost Animals
France is a very dog-friendly country, and a good country to visit if you want to travel with your dog. Remember: before you leave your home country, make sure you have a completed pet passport, with all the required vaccinations recorded.
You can travel with your pets in France without a care in the world as train stations and airports are extremely animal friendly. And, unlike in the USA, most restaurants in France allow you to bring your dog. Gîtes (furnished holiday rentals) are obliged by law to allow pets to stay but they may charge extra for cleaning if a pet is included.
While dogs are banned from some French beaches, the animal charity ’30 Millions d’Amis’ has compiled a map of beaches and restaurants which welcome pets – at least for part of the day – as well as dog-friendly gîtes, campsites, and hotels (some 20,000 places in total). Here is another map of beaches that allow dogs.
There are, however, restrictions on taking a dog on a beach as they must be kept on a lead/leash or owners face an €11 fine. Some beaches are open for dogs only at certain times – generally early morning or later when it is quieter. Few beaches will allow dogs in the water alongside bathers, but you can ask the maîtrenageur in charge or check the signs.
The map was made in a bid to reduce the 60,000 cats and dogs that are dumped each summer (200,000 year-round), often beside roads on the way to holiday resorts as sociopathic people realize the problem of trying to find a space on a beach that is open to pets, and decide to abandon their cat or dog rather than make the extra effort to find a pet-friendly beach. The dumping of so many animals overwhelms animal shelters with thousands of animals arriving every week during summer.
Owners are asked to be on their best behavior and make sure to clear up and not leave dog poop on the beach. If you don’t, you increase the likelihood that the mayor will ban dogs on the beach, increasing the number of abandoned dogs.
If You Find an Abandoned Pet
If you find a dog (or cat) who you think is lost or abandoned please – remember this – often in France dogs are left by their owners to roam. We are not saying that this is right, but it happens. Often if the dog is striding purposefully and confidently, he knows where he is going – and if he is not a danger (close to, or walking on a road) it is usually best to let him go on his way to find his way home.
Some dogs, however, look lost. Frightened, running or walking in different directions – panting – generally stressed or anxious – or sick and/or thin – or about to cause a road accident – and that is the time to step in. Here are instructions of what to do, provided by French Riviera Animals:
1) First, take some photos of the animal. Then, try to get close to the animal and catch him/her. If you can’t, post the photos on Pet alert 06 (Menton to Cannes, including Nice, Antibes, St Paul de Vence, Mougins, etc.) and Pet alert Var (the west side of the Riviera, including the Esterel region and St. Tropez), also post on French Riviera Animals (and/or email it to [email protected]), and as many other Facebook groups as you can, giving precise details of where you saw the animal.
If you think the animal will cause a car accident, phone the police in the commune and report it, giving accurate details.
2) If you manage to catch the animal, or if the animal comes happily with you, please take the animal to a veterinarian who will check (for free) for a microchip or a tattoo – and if there is one, the vet will call the registered number. If after-hours, there are 24-hour vets in most areas. If the registered phone number can’t be reached, most vets will keep the animal overnight and until the owner can be reached (Les Clausonnes 24-hour veterinarian in Valbonne definitely does this).
3) If you have the animal but can not get him to a vet, and can not keep him overnight to take him to a vet, you must call your local police. The police will take the animal to a fourriere (pound) where the fourriere will endeavor to find the owner. If after 10 days the animal is not claimed, usually an association will take charge and find a new home for the animal. Most local refuges do not appreciate you arriving with a “found” animal. They will usually tell you to phone the local police, who will then take the animal to one of the registered fourrières (if the police are in the mood to help, that is).
4) Please do not advertise the animal for adoption yourself. If the animal is microchipped this is theft. If the animal is not microchipped it can still be classified as theft. Associations and refuges do very careful checks on potential adopters – anyone could be taking that animal from you – sometimes for many terrible reasons (like bait for dog fighting) – people with bad intentions can often seem very nice and plausible.
Things to try if you find a cat or dog with no owner in sight
- Go door-to-door and ask if anyone recognizes the animal.
- Call the police (dial 112 on your phone) and ask for help (although the police are sometimes unwilling to help — it depends on the mood of the officer you reach).
- Keep the animal in your care until you can get help. Provide water for them.
- Notify the veterinarians in the area the animal was lost. Take the animal to the nearest veterinary clinic to check their microchip (this should not cost anything) and contact the owner. Here’s a database to search once you know the microchip number (but the vet should also be able to contact their owners). Below are contact details for emergency vet services in the area (or search on Google Maps for ‘veterinaire’):
- Contact APOT: Animals Lost or Found (Animaux Perdus Ou Trouvés) Phone: 0800 037 016
- Put up notices (with a photograph of the pet, if possible) in the veterinarian offices, at the Mairie and shops of the area it went missing.
- Post a message and picture to the following bulletin board websites advertising lost and found animals (in French):
- Contact animal shelters: see the list below, search for an animal shelter here, or check out this list of shelters.
- Antibes: Refuge Jean Duflos
- Mougins: Refuge l’Espoir
- Close to Nice: Refuge de Carros
- Eze: Refuge L’ABRI
- Phone: +33493410362
- Vence: Les Chats de Stella
- Vence: Refuge des Collines / SPACA
- 30 minutes north of Nice: Refuge La Conca
- 90 minutes north of Nice: Les Chats du Mercantour
Our Favorite Pet-Friendly Hotels
List coming soon! Learn more about how to be added to the list.