Where to go on holiday with your dog without struggling to find a rental or activity? Thirty cities in France have won a “toutourisme-label”, a welcoming city for our dear companions. Four are in Hauts-de-France, even by the sea.
The calculation is very simple, pets represent a significant market for tourists. There are more than 7.5 million dogs in France, and more than 80% of dog owners no longer want to “travel” without their dogs.
Eight out of ten French people love dogs (CSA institute study), as the 30 million friends Foundation reminds us. So why ban dogs on all beaches and resorts, as is so often the case. Fighting the waves of abandonment of late summer holidays also means reversing the trend: The ban on pets on the whole coast, rentals, walks, restaurants are from another era. We need to “open” minds and strengthen the owners.
“Tourism” is that spirit, and the idea is nothing new. The brand has been around since 2007. It’s just expanding, and in Hauts-de-France the idea is gaining ground. Good news to prepare for the long weekends to come or your summer vacation.
Fort-Mahon in the Somme has even made it an adopted communication strategy. “We wanted to end the restrictions. It’s much more positive to say, look at everything you can do here with your pet, instead of it being forbidden“, explains Céline Leclerq, director of the Fort-Mahon tourist office.
For four years, the seaside resort on the Picardy coast has embarked on a policy of welcoming masters and dogs with kindness and mutual respect. “Touring is only positive“, Continues Céline Leclerq, Director of the Tourist Office. “We are soon launching a study to quantify things, but it is already clear that there are people we have retained thanks to this targeted reception. They come back here for these facilities with their animals.“
Toutourisme is an idea born from the town of Troyes in the Aube in 2007. The concept of the brand is summarized to promote the reception of families with one or more dogs in the territory (welcome pack, advice, list of accommodation or activities offered, etc.) . Now about thirty municipalities in France have adopted it, including four in Hauts-de-France: Berck-sur-Mer, Fort-Mahon, Le Crotoy and Saint-Quentin.
In a marked city, the reception at the tourist office will always take place in a friendly ritual: small or large Médor will have his bowl of water, and his masters will be accompanied in a good mood.
First of all, you get e.g. a list of restaurants that accept your companion at your table. “This is often the case on the terrace, but it is important to be able to sit indoors even on bad weather days. We are lucky in Fort-Mahon to have almost everyone restore who plays the game.“
Tips for trails and walks are also shared. And if there are many applications like this one below to learn how to discover the surroundings with your dog, to be able to discuss it in “reality” with a contact at the tourist office, that’s fine too.
“A first stop in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme for an activity. We then visited Le Crotoy before heading back to Berck in Pas-de-Calais where we slept at the hotel. The next day we ended our trip to Fort-Mahon in the Somme under your adviceA user testifies on Instagram by contacting the marked tourist office.
Magnificent beaches, incredible weather and super dog-friendly towns. There were so many dogs everywhere. I understand why
A user on Crotoy Instagram
When you are the happy master of a four-legged friend, the most complicated part of organizing your vacation accommodation is. Find where to sleep, where the dog will be accepted: this is the black dot. And the “bigger and taller” they are, the harder it is. Often over 20 kg the animal is not welcome. However, the favorite dogs from e.g. the French, the Australian shepherd or the Labrador over the size.
It is important for people to be able to travel with their pets. Child or elderly, everyone today considers the dog a full member of the family. We must be able to accommodate them. It is up to them to be responsible, to set rules, to bring the basket for example.Nicolas Frisé, owner of a gîte in Le Crotoy
But again, this is about understanding mutual and the dialogues with the tourist offices labeled “toutourisme” are gradually changing mentality. “The problem is when tenants do not understand that the animal is absolutely not allowed to sleep in the bed or roll on the couch. It is inevitable to get dirty and leave hair everywhere, which can then disturb the traveler depending on who he may be allergic to. No matter how much we clean, there are always some left“, explains Nicolas Frisé, owner of a gîte in Le Crotoy. He remembers a bitter reproach from a sensitive customer who did not appreciate finding animal hair on the couch.
Teachers should therefore be made even more responsible. “It is often the master problem, not the dogs“, sighs Michel Verchien from Saint-Quentin. In his lodging he accepts”almost everything“Provided we are honest with him about who is coming and under what conditions.
In addition to the long walks on the dune trails, where dogs on a leash are welcome, there is plenty to do with the doggie by your side. “When certain species are ready and they must not be disturbed, we must warns the people who come to see us in the office. Dog friends are animal friends. They understand well that certain areas must be avoided and follow the instructions. They are even happy to be empowered”Notes Céline Leclerq of Fort-Mahon.
“I could go and admire the seals of Berck-sur-Mer. Many of us saw them in the distance and with many dogs. But there is room and everyone has been able to keep their animals so it does not cross like crazy. It was very nice to stay and a lovely excursion“, says Pauline from the blog Travel with your dog. The next day she dared to try a completely different activity, sandyachting.
However, the contacted, true yachting school instructors are quite hesitant to receive a dog in their sessions. He may react badly, fall or be hit by a machine caught in the wind. “It is more reasonable to avoid or have an exceptional relationship with an animal that is accustomed, attached, and experienced in strong sensations.“
Several times a year, special “waste collection” operations are also arranged: masters and dogs meet for a useful, fun and promising long walk.