INTERVIEW – Mélanie is the founder of the website “Chien Voyageur”, where she talks about her vacations accompanied by her border collie, Maïdo, and gives her good advice for successful vacations for humans and dogs. She shares her favorites with us.
It’s a picture of Epinal. The minivan, the two children in the back, a barely closed trunk. And the Golden Retriever’s head sticks out the window. In France, every third owner would choose to go on holiday with their animal instead of having it kept or boarding it. Despite stress, extra costs, preparation. For it must be said: Although 15 million dogs, cats and ferrets live in French homes according to the Icad (Identification of Carnivorous Domestic Animals), it is still akin to an obstacle course to take them on holiday.
To focus on solutions rather than pitfalls, Mélanie has created the “Chien Voyageur” page, where she gathers her tips that she learned on the job with her dog Maïdo, a border collie who accompanies her on her hikes around the world. This amazing traveler has also created five guides, the last of which, dedicated to Savoie, is available in PDF format (€ 14.90). For let us remember that every year tens of thousands of animals are left on the holiday route. An animal that leaves with its master is an animal smaller at the SPA. With car !
FIGARO TRAVEL. – What is the ideal foreign land to take with your dog?
Melanie. – Without hesitation I would say Italy! It is a particularly dog-friendly country. There are many accommodations and restaurants that accept dogs. Some supermarkets too: this is the case, for example, with the Conad or Unes chains. At Unes, small and medium-sized breeds even have access to specially equipped wagons! The beaches are also suitable for dogs: this is the case with Baubeach in Rome, Dogbeach in San Vincenzo or even Baubeach near Venice. Finally, there are reserved parks almost everywhere in the big cities, Rome, Florence, Naples or Milan. And if dogs are not allowed in historical monuments, there are excellent dog boarding houses in Italy.
What is the most inviting home you have tested with Maïdo?
We have many good experiences with accommodation at Maïdo, but our favorite accommodations are those that pay special attention to our dogs. I am thinking in particular of Camping 2 la Plage in Treffort in Isère, which welcomed us with a welcome set for Maïdo (blanket, bowls, etc.). In the Vendée, the Port de Moricq campsite is 100% dog-friendly and welcomes as family members with all the equipment and attention they deserve: “toutoudouches”, a “toutousnack” or even a “toutouparc”! Some hotels also stand out. In Bangor, on Belle-île-en-Mer, the hotel La Désirade has provided a welcome set for dogs: blanket, bowls and even towels for returning home from a walk. Unfortunately, this kind of reception is rare.
Do you have a recommended beach to take on your dog?
You should know that if many are banned, others are available to them, but only at certain times of the year. We still had the opportunity to browse some very beautiful beaches with Maïdo! In Var, in Ramatuelle, dogs are allowed on all beaches, provided they are kept on a leash. On the beach in Escalet there is even a cani shower which allows you to rinse your dog after swimming. In Corsica, there are also very beautiful beaches that accept them, such as Santa Giulia. On the sea side, the Gulf of Quiberon has some magnificent beaches where dogs are allowed all year round: Mané Gwen in Plouharnel, Le Lizeau in Saint-Pierre Quiberon or la Jument in Conguel.
What is the most dog-friendly ski resort?
A dog-friendly ski resort is for me a resort that includes them in its range of activities. You can easily find dog-friendly accommodation, snowshoe trails available for dogs, ski lifts are allowed and you can ski with your dog in part of the area. I love Haute-Savoie and in particular the Massif des Brasses. The Môle et Brasses Tourisme destination has also received the Toutourisme label, which guarantees visitors accompanied by a dog a high quality welcome.
What is the most beautiful dog-human walk?
On the coastal paths, in the mountains, on the plain, we have often been amazed. My favorites? GR 34 is also called the customs trail, which starts from Mont-Saint-Michel and ends in Saint-Nazaire. The crossed landscapes are of incredible beauty, we discover all the richness of the Breton coast. On the mountainside, I recently fell in love with the Massif de Belledonne in the northern Alps and its high-altitude lakes. It is neither a national park nor a regional park or a reserve, so it is accessible to dogs in its entirety! Maïdo is an amazing hiking buddy: his infallible motivation is a precious ally when fatigue sets in. When we reach the top, we enjoy our victory together in front of breathtaking landscapes.
The most beautiful encounter made during the journey thanks to Maïdo?
One year we delayed organizing our summer vacation. We also wanted to go to southern Brittany, a very tourist destination that requires you to anticipate your overnight bookings, especially when you want to go with your dog. When we searched for accommodation there was nothing left. We were ready to give up to change our plans when I got the idea to remove the “pet accepted” filter on the online booking platform. I contacted a couple of homeowners who were shown as non-dog friendly to assure them that we were respectful and that Maïdo was well educated. An adorable couple trusted us and accepted our reservation request. We were welcomed with a bottle of cider and two bowls to Maïdo in a magnificent apartment on the beach. Unexpected! We had a wonderful holiday week and left the apartment completely clean and tidy. Hope we made them feel like welcoming other dogs in the future!
Even when it says “pets allowed”, there are sometimes conditions that are not mentioned.
The unexpected little problem you encountered while traveling with Maïdo?
Even when it says “pets allowed”, there are sometimes conditions that are not mentioned. For example, we ended up in a rental that only accepted small breeds. We found out when we got there. The owner was a little annoyed to notice the size of my border collie (25kg). She finally accepted our dog, but imposed restrictions on us that we had not been prepared for: Maïdo should stay in the entrance, should not be left alone in the dwelling … Now we systematically contact the owners of a dwelling to be sure of the reception conditions upstream.
Is there a place to avoid when traveling with your dog?
From experience, I think it is important to choose your home based on what you can do with your dog nearby. The ideal is to have walks from the hotel, beaches available not far away, activities to share nearby. This saves you having to travel miles. It is also important to choose activities that will delight both humans and dogs: Maïdo is a very sensitive dog who does not like crowds. He prefers large spaces, so we take that into account when developing our program.
What is the most important thing to take with you when traveling with your companion?
When I travel with Maïdo, I always plan two bags: one for the car that I always have nearby and in which I put his leash, his harness, his health record, his European passport, a bowl and water, a brush and a first aid kit . In the other, I put treats to chew on, his toys, his life jacket, a fluorescent vest if we are hunting. I also take a little more than enough drinks if we extend the holiday, his food bowl, his mattress. It is important to bring familiar objects so that the dog has some bearing in a new place, it calms him down.
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