INTERVIEW – Mélanie is the founder of the “Chien Voyageur” website, where she recounts 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 barely closed trunk. And the Golden Retriever’s head sticking out the window. In France, one in three owners would choose to go on vacation with their animal, rather than having it kept or boarding it. Despite the stress, the extra costs, the preparations. Because 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 akin to an obstacle course.
To focus on solutions rather than pitfalls, Mélanie has created the “Chien Voyageur” site, where she compiles her tips, learned on the job alongside her dog Maïdo, a border collie who follows her on her wanderings. worldwide. This great traveler has also concocted five guides, the last of which, dedicated to Savoie, is available in PDF format (€14.90). Because let’s remember, every year, tens of thousands of animals are abandoned on the holiday route. An animal that leaves with its master is one less animal at the SPA. By car !
THE FIGARO TRAVELS. – What is the ideal foreign country to go 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 of the Conad or Unes chains. At Unes, small and medium breeds even have access to specially equipped carts! The beaches are also suitable for doggies: this is the case of the Baubeach in Rome, the Dogbeach in San Vincenzo or even the 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 canine pensions in Italy.
What is the most welcoming accommodation you have tested with Maïdo?
We have many great experiences of accommodation with Maïdo but our favorite accommodations are those 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 Vendée, the Port de Moricq campsite is 100% dog-friendly and welcomes like members of the family 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 kit for dogs: blanket, bowls and even towels for the return from a walk. Unfortunately, this kind of reception is rare.
Do you have a recommended beach to go with your dog?
You should know that if many are prohibited, others are accessible to them but only at certain times of the year. We still had the chance to browse some very beautiful beaches with Maïdo! In the Var, in Ramatuelle, dogs are accepted on all the beaches provided they are kept on a leash. On the beach of 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 ocean side, the bay of Quiberon 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 accommodation, snowshoe trails accessible to dogs, ski lifts are allowed and you can ski with your dog on 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 hike?
On the coastal paths, in the mountains, on the plain, we have often been amazed. My favourites? The GR 34 also called the customs trail which 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 mountain side, 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 a great hiking companion: his unfailing motivation is a precious ally when fatigue sets in. When we arrive at 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 organizing our summer vacation. We also wanted to go to southern Brittany, a very tourist destination which requires you to anticipate your accommodation reservations, especially when you want to go with your dog. When we looked for accommodation there was nothing left. We were ready to give up to change our plans when I had the idea of removing the “pets accepted” filter on the online booking platform. I contacted a few owners of accommodations, displayed as non-dog-friendly, to reassure 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 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 that we made them want to welcome 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 by noticing the size of my border collie (25 kg). She finally accepted our dog but imposed constraints on us for which we had not been prepared: Maïdo had to stay in the entrance, should not be left alone in the accommodation… Now, we systematically contact the owners of a accommodation in order 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 accommodation based on what you can do with your dog nearby. The ideal being to have walks starting from the hotel, beaches accessible not far away, activities to share nearby. This saves you having to travel miles. It is also important to choose activities that will please 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 essentials to take when traveling with your companion?
When traveling with Maïdo I always plan two bags: one for the car that I always have nearby and in which I put his lanyard, his harness, his health record, his European passport, a bowl and water , a brush and a first aid kit. In the second, I put treats to chew on, his toys, his lifejacket, a fluorescent vest 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 objects so that the dog has some bearings in a new place, this reassures him.
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