Monday, 16 July 2012

Paws in France - taking a dog to France

We are just back from a camping holiday in Brittany in France and this time we took our dog with us!  It all went pretty smoothly!  Although, I must admit there was more planning went into making sure we had the dog organised than there was for making sure the rest of us were organised !  However it all went well and we enjoyed our holiday.

We had booked a fast ferry sailing from Poole on the South coast of England. As it was an early morning sailing involving a 6am check-in, we decided to stay overnight in Poole. We couldn't stay at our usual (budget family travel !) hotel, the lovely Holes Bay Premier Inn as they don't take dogs. However we found another couple of options, the Thistle Hotel and the Salterns Hotel. We chose to stay at the Salterns Hotel and it was a great choice. Here is the view from the room :

We had to leave the hotel at 5.30 to get to the ferry on time but look at this fabulous Continental breakfast which was delivered to our room. What a great start to a day !

We had decided to travel by the Brittany Ferries/Condor Ferries crossing from Poole to Cherbourg as it is a Fast Ferry crossing of round about 2.5 hours. (It also has a very nice gift shop on board with lots of lovely perfumes !!) 

Our Pet Passport was checked along with our own and the microchip was read with a microchip reader at this stage. They then placed a "Pet on Board" sign on our windscreen. I had read beforehand that we would be placed together with other pet carrying cars in a ventilated area and in theory if it is a smooth crossing they might agree to accompany you down to check your pet. However on both journeys we made I cant say I noticed us being treated any differently to other cars. We left all our windows open a couple of inches to ventilate the car, and certainly we werent crossing on warm days and the car was sitting in a shaded spot. Both our crossings were slightly "wavy" and as all the staff seeemed pretty busy, we didn't actually ask to go to check her. (although as I will explain our return crossing ended up longer than expected)

Anyway, the outward crossing went well and she was perfectly happy when we returned to the car.

We then journeyed to our campsite Book a Holiday at Les Mouettes Campsite with Eurocampat Carantec in Brittany (this is an affiliate marketing link).
En route (that's French !) we were able to stop at some motorway "stopover aires" - open spaces with toilet areas and grassy picnic areas - ideal for a quick dog exercise and toilet stop.

Here she is settled in at the campsite !

The campsite was pretty good for dogs - we had chosen to have decking at our mobile home and we had requested a stair gate which we were able to put across the entrance to the decking. We had asked to be put in a fairly out of the way spot to avoid too many passing people. 

Dogs are not generally allowed on tourist beaches in France, but near this campsite there was a small beach and country road area and as it wasn't apparently classed officially as a proper "tourist" beach then dogs could be exercised on it. Obviously we took her to the far end well away from holidaymakers at the end nearer the campsite. However this walk made a nice end to the evening each day. And on the campsite itself, dogs were made welcome. She was able to sit with us in the bar or on the terrace. She was well behaved and sat quietly. There were a few other dogs on the campsite and we met those as well, including two lovely French Shetland Sheepdogs - 3 year old Nina and her 1 year old toyboy husband !
We were even able to take her into a restaurant in nearby Roscoff at one point - the excellent Marie Stuart Restaurant in Roscoff (named after Mary Queen of Scotland and France who left from Roscoff as a young girl).  I don't know how widespread this would be but certainly when the weather is sunny there should be no problem sitting in pavement cafes.

There were plenty of walks around Carantec. There is a coastal path which goes right around the town and in fact the whole peninsula and this offers some lovely views. On another day we took the short ferry crossing from Roscoff to Ile de Batz and again that is great for walking dogs.

If you enjoy cycling with your dog, there is a stretch of Voie Verte green cycle route not far from the campsite which takes you into Roscoff (about 11 miles) - I believe it is off-road but as the weather was too mixed when we were on holiday we never got round to trying this.

A Pet Passport requirement is that you must visit the vet between 1 and 5 days before you return to the UK. The vet must give them a tapeworm worming tablet. We had booked beforehand with the Feydy Veterinary Practise in St Pol du Leon, about 5 miles from Les Mouettes campsite. She was given a Milbemax worming tablet, the microchip was scanned and the Pet Passport was stamped. We found them to be a very nice vets practise. Thanks to them !

The only problem in our whole holiday planning came from the fact that we got a message half way through the holiday to say that our return ferry trip had been cancelled due to technical difficulties. Brittany Ferries thankfully moved us to the only other possible crossing from Normandy on the day we were due to travel, which was the other fast ferry crossing from Caen (Ouistreham) to Portsmouth.

Our final campsite stop was at the lovely Chateaux Lez Eaux campsite near St Pair Sur Mer in Normandy (this is an affiliate marketing link). Chateaux Lez Eaux is a lovely campsite in spacious, green grounds. There was an area where they said we could exercise the dog and also the long driveway was fine for a quick morning walk.  We were able to take her into the bar that evening, when there was an excellent Celtic band playing music from the lands of the Celts - Brittany, Ireland, Cornwall, Wales and Scotland.  Great fun ! The Bar is very nice - cosy and snug. With the weather we had that evening (early summer? 2012), we could have been in the Highlands of Scotland ! 

From Chateaux Les Eaux it is approximately an hours drive to either Caen or Cherbourg Ferry terminals. We had been changed to the Caen (Ouistreham) crossing with the Normandie Express ferry. The crossing was due to be a 3.5 hour crossing but due to the weather, it ended up as a 4 and a quarter hour crossing. So that was definitely the upper limit of how long our dog could possibly spend in a car. However I must admit she had had a good spot of exercise beforehand as we walked her just near the end of the beach at Ouistreham - just round from the ferry terminus, and she had also got out while we were waiting for the ferry so she had had chances to stretch her legs before the trip.

Here is a sign from the Ouistreham beach, this sign says the beach (la plage) does not allow our doggy friends (est interdite a nos amis les chiens) even if they are on leads ! (meme tenus en laisse) - except on the small eastern area of the beach (la partie EST)

We made sure she would be comfortable in the car by leaving plenty of water on board and we didn't feed her beforehand just in case she was sick on the crossing. This worked fine for us as she is not normally fed until lunchtime anyway so her meal was just a little later than normal. In fact she was fine when we returned to the car and didnt seem to mind the crossing - unlike a few other members of our party ! We discovered why these fast ferry crossings have the rather unpleasant nickname "Vomit Comets!"

So overall, it was a successful and enjoyable holiday. For crossing the channel, the simplest option to consider must be the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle service which is only 35 minutes and you can keep your dog with you in your car.

Or take a Dover to Calais crossing which would be a shorter time. However those of us travelling from Scotland, West or SW of England or North of England will probably still find the Poole to Cherbourg crossing to be a good option.

So, overall would we do this again - the answer is YES ! and finally of the two teenagers and one other child and the dog who we had on the trip - who do you think was the easiest to entertain and best behaved ? - yes you got it in one ! - THE DOG !!

Here is an interesting book you might like to try :

Go Back to Best French Campsites

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Always love to see dogs on campsites, they seem to love it!


Comments ? Latest News on this ?