An Englishman we came across in the south of France told us his wife wouldn’t forgive him: he’d not let her bring the dog on holiday.
“I didn’t realise! You can take dogs everywhere over here. Even into restaurants,” he said. “It’s strange. The only place that they are banned from is the beach.”
Maybe it’s not so strange. The French like their dogs and the beaches down south get ridiculously hot. But in clothes shops, boulangeries, smart hotels, cafes (I didn’t check out the boucherie because that would be too much like temptation for Ted), dogs are welcome.
When we travelled up the coast and wanted to hire bikes to cycle around Ile de Re, Teddy was provided with his own special tagalong trailer – we didn’t even have to ask. He was grateful for the water bowls frequently on offer. I was charmed by the various ladies who often stopped to admire Teddy’s sharp summer haircut. Teddy was a bit of a rarity. Local dogs wear their hair shaggier, look altogether more windswept – in this smart French version of the seaside, which doubles as Paris-on-Sea, the tousled hairstyles beloved of French Vogue clearly extend to canines, too.
One evening we sat in a glorious courtyard in the middle of France, all old stones, wild flowers and pretty ironwork, in a chic little restaurant surrounded by vineyards. While we ate, Teddy happily patrolled beneath the table. We counted six dogs escorting their owners that evening: a perky Jack Russell with a pink diamante collar, a small Yorkie sitting quietly on the lap of his owner (a man in white denim with long, flippy, hair just like his dog’s), a statuesque white greyhound who sat bolt upright on her own travel rug, two conked out poodles and an utterly huge Bouvier des Flandres, who proceeded to park his massive furry flanks directly across the serving route, right between the tables. No one suggested moving the hot dog. Instead, a waiter smiled indulgently at the living, panting rug, brought him a trough of water and spent the rest of the evening carefully negotiating the space around him.
None of the dogs whined, growled or cocked their legs. Perhaps they’d all read the memo about How Dogs Should Behave in Restaurants. Or maybe it comes au naturel to dogs (even English ones) when they are in France.