INTERVIEW – Mélanie is the founder of the website “Chien Voyageur”, where she talks about her holidays accompanied by her border collie, Maïdo, and gives her good advice for successful human and canine holidays. She shares her favorites with us.
It is an image of Epinal. The minivan, the two children in the back, a newly closed trunk. And the Golden Retriever’s head poking out of the window. In France, one in three owners would choose to go on holiday with their pet rather than keep or ship it. Despite the stress, the extra costs, the preparations. Why it must be said: even if 15 million dogs, cats and ferrets live in French homes according to Icad (Identification of domestic carnivores), taking them on vacation is still an obstacle course.
To emphasize the solutions rather than the pitfalls, Mélanie created the site “Traveler dog», Where she collects her advice, learned at work with her dog Maïdo, a border collie who follows her on her travels around the world. This great traveler also invented five guides, the last of which, dedicated to Savoy, is available in PDF format (€ 14.90). Because let’s remember that every year tens of thousands of animals are abandoned in the path of the holidays. An animal that leaves with its owner is one less animal in the SPA. In the car !
THE FIGARO TRAVELS. – What is the ideal foreign country to go to with your dog?
Melania. – Without hesitation, I would say Italy! It is a particularly dog-friendly country. There are many dog-friendly accommodations and restaurants. Even some supermarkets: this is the case, for example, of the Conad or Unes chains. At Unes, small and medium breeds also have access to specially equipped wagons! The beaches are also suitable for dogs: this is the case of the Baubeach in Rome, the Dogbeach in San Vincenzo or the Baubeach near Venice. Finally, there are reserved parks almost everywhere in the big cities, Rome, Florence, Naples or Milan. And if dogs aren’t allowed in historical monuments, there are excellent canine boarding houses in Italy.
What is the coziest accommodation you have tried with Maïdo?
We have many great lodging experiences with Maïdo, but our favorite accommodations are the ones that have special attention for our dogs. I am thinking in particular of Camping 2 la Plage in Treffort, in Isère, which welcomed us with a welcome kit for Maïdo (blanket, bowls, etc.). In the Vendée, the Port de Moricq campsite is 100% dog-friendly and welcomes you as family members with all the equipment and attention they deserve: “toutoudouches”, a “toutousnack” or even a “toutouparc”! Some hotels are also distinguished. In Bangor, on Belle-île-en-Mer, La Désirade hotel provided a welcome kit for dogs: blanket, bowls and even towels for returning from a walk. Unfortunately, this type of reception is rare.
Do you have a recommended beach to go with your dog?
You should know that while many are banned, others are accessible to them but only at certain times of the year. We still got the chance to explore some very nice beaches with Maïdo! In the Var, in Ramatuelle, dogs are allowed on all beaches as long as they are kept on a leash. There is also a dog shower on Escalet beach which allows you to rinse your dog after a bath. In Corsica there are also very beautiful beaches that accept them, such as Santa Giulia. On the ocean side, the Quiberon bay has some magnificent beaches where dogs are accepted 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, for me, is a resort that includes them in its range of activities. You can easily find dog-friendly accommodations, dog-friendly snowshoe trails, ski lifts are allowed and you can ski with your dog in a part of the area. I have a crush on Haute-Savoie and in particular on the Massif des Brasses. The Môle et Brasses Tourisme destination has also received the Toutourisme label, which guarantees visitors accompanied by a dog a quality welcome.
What is the most beautiful dog-human excursion?
On the coastal paths, in the mountains, on the plains, we are often amazed. My favorites? The GR 34 also called the customs trail that starts from Mont-Saint-Michel and ends in Saint-Nazaire. The landscapes crossed 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, nor a reserve, so it is accessible to dogs in its entirety! Maïdo is an excellent hiking companion: his unfailing motivation is a precious ally when fatigue makes itself felt. When we reach the top, we savor our victory together in front of breathtaking landscapes.
The most beautiful encounter made while traveling thanks to Maïdo?
One year, we delayed the organization of our summer holidays. We also wanted to go to southern Brittany, a very touristy destination that requires booking accommodation in advance, especially when you want to go with your dog. When we looked for accommodation there was nothing left. We were ready to give up on changing our plans when I came up with the idea of removing the “pets allowed” filter on the online booking platform. I contacted some accommodation owners, who were shown to be unsuitable for dogs, to reassure them that we were respectful and that Maïdo was well behaved. A lovely couple trusted us and accepted our booking request. We were greeted with a bottle of cider and two bowls for Maïdo in a magnificent apartment on the beach. Unexpected! We had a wonderful holiday week and left the apartment perfectly clean and tidy. Hoping it made them want to welcome more 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 got a little annoyed noticing the size of my border collie (25 kg). In the end, he accepted our dog but imposed constraints on us for which we were not prepared: Maïdo had to stay at the entrance, she was not to be left alone in the accommodation … Now we systematically contact the owners of an accommodation to make sure upstream reception conditions.
Is there a place to avoid when traveling with the dog?
From experience, I think it is important to choose accommodation based on what you can do with your dog nearby. Ideal for taking walks from the hotel, accessible beaches not far away, activities to share nearby. This saves you from having to travel miles. It is also important to choose activities that satisfy both humans and dogs: Maïdo is a very sensitive dog who does not like crowds. He prefers large spaces, so we take this into account when developing our program.
What are the essential items to bring when traveling with your partner?
When I travel with Maïdo I always plan two bags: one for the car that I always have near and in which I put his lanyard, his harness, his medical file, his European passport, a bowl and water, a brush and a kit first aid. In the second, I put some chewy treats, his toys, his life jacket, a fluorescent jacket if we’re on the hunt. I also take a little more than enough kibble in case we extend the vacation, his food bowl, his mattress. It is important to bring familiar items so that the dog has some orientation in a new place, this reassures him.
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