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Top Chien: Learning to Love a Dog in Paris

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Nick Harris

Nick Harris

I’m what you might call a reluctant dog owner. I didn’t grow up in a house of happy canines; never longed for one of my own. I know, I know, a dog is Man’s Best Friend.

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Jeff Westo, Katchooo

Jeff Weston & Katchooo

But all that face licking, barking and pesky fur on the furniture? Not to mention the shoes that would be mistaken for chew toys. It wasn’t for me. A dog would cramp my style, limit our freedom. And worse, he could get sick or injured and break everybody’s heart. No, I could enjoy other people’s dogs, just not my own.

Alas, my husband and two kids had other ideas. And so they began a doggie campaign. They promised to train him and take him on long walks. They’d feed him, bathe him, even pick up les crottes.

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Katie Spence

Katie Spence

After months of this, my resolve began to weaken. If they wanted a dog that badly, could I really stand in the way? Surely I could grow to love a little dog? So one cold January day (on the absurd premise of “just going to look,”) we visited an animal shelter on the outskirts if Paris. Surprise! We came home with this little guy.

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Paige Bradley Frost

Paige Bradley Frost

It’s good to be King. I knew that dogs inhabited a privileged place in Paris life. They could hang out at cafés, dine at restaurants, even ride public transportation (provided they’re small and carried in a sac). Best of all, they’re beloved. They’d bring out the best in our Parisian neighbors, perhaps helping us discover a new side of city life. How right I was. On our first full day with Rocky, our one-year-old terrier, we decided to try out a nearby cafe. Smiles all around! His own water bowl, even a few meaty scraps from a neighboring table. Rocky was winning hearts and even beginning to melt my own.

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Erica Berman, lynu

Erica Berman & lynu

It’s been said that in Paris, dogs occupy a higher social strata than children. As the owner of both varietals, I can confirm this cliché is indeed true. On Paris streets, where children draw scowls and exasperated sigh, our pup is the object of unfettered delight. There was the woman at the bus stop who regaled me with tales from her lifelong love affair with les chiens. (Ours reminded her of a childhood pup.) The elderly man who blew kisses to Rocky from a park bench. And dozens of pats and coos each and every time we take a stroll. We’re constantly told, “En plus, il est beau!” a thoroughly Parisian observation that always makes me giggle.

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Robert R Gigliotti,

Robert R Gigliotti,

And so, thanks to Rocky, a new Paris has opened – one filled with smiles, endearments, compliments (for le chien) and a new level of acceptance of us as real Parisians. (Not just those Americans who are passing through). We’re on a first-name basis with the dogs in our neighborhood and have found ourselves welcomed into a previously unknown cadre of dogs and owners out for daily strolls. Who knows? Another year and we just might learn the owners’ names. Now that would be real progress in Paris.

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Matt Biddulph, wallyg

Matt Biddulph & wallyg

Parks for Pooches. Despite their welcomed access to many places, dogs are actually banned from most city parks, a fact that’s both inconvenient and bewildering. Dogs and parks — aren’t they made for each other? Not so in Paris, where parks and their pelouse are meant to be admired, not sat upon and certainly not soiled.

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Paige Bradley Frost

Paige Bradley Frost

And so we’ve sought out new ground for Rocky. The Champs de Mars is a favorite (while not technically a dog-park, a critical mass of canines can be found there most afternoons). Visits to the city’s one legitimate off-leash dog park in the 14th at Denfert-Rochereau have been added to our routine. With the arrival of les beaux jours, we’ll also be hitting Parc Montsouris, where dogs are free to romp (on leash, of course.)

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Alain Ollier, Erica Berman

Alain Ollier & Erica Berman

Happy dog, happy home. Much has been written about the benefits of owning a dog. Dog owners tend to be generally healthier (all that obligatory walking), experience less depression (somebody’s always happy to see you), and of course, dogs and kids are the stuff of storybooks. Mine love Rocky so much, it’s almost like they can’t remember a time without him. As for me, I’ve fallen hard for our little Parisian pup – dog hair on the sofa, face-licking and all. Now if I can just keep him from chewing on my favorite shoes…

Owning a Dog in Paris, HiP Paris Blog, Photo Mike Kandel

Mike Kandel

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Written by Paige Bradley Frost for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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Written by Paige Bradley Frost

Paige Bradley FrostPaige Bradley Frost, a Los Angeles native, moved back to Paris with her young family in 2011 after first living and getting married there in 2000. A lover of French style and cuisine, she spends her days scouting and writing about the city's gems when not chasing after her two young children. Her articles about parenting, culture and lifestyle have appeared on, the Huffington Post and various other publications. She blogs about her Paris experiences at

Website: Paris Deja Vu

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Posted in Parisian Living | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Top Chien: Learning to Love a Dog in Paris”

  • Paige says:

    Bonjour, Susan – I recently heard that the no-dogs-in-parks rule may be changing. Apparently the off-leash park in the 14eme is an experiment by the Marie de Paris. If it goes well (and by this I assume they mean that the dogs have fun and the owners clean up after them..?), other off-leash parks may follow around the city. Here’s hoping!

  • susan says:

    So sweet…my Billy would have fit right in (so many yorkies in Paris). I love all the dogs in Paris, but am also bewildered by the park access issue. Bizarre! Other countries need to wise up and treat their animal friends with such respect.

  • Every word of this is true and good! My husband and I have always loved visiting Paris as tourists, but adding Chloe, our Cavalier King Charles, into the mix has made our visits exponentially better — we got kindness before, and now we get smiles, and even conversation. I can add, happily, that leashed dogs are allowed on the wonderful and relaxing Batobus. They are also allowed (in carriers) on two of the hop-on hop-off buses (Les Cars Rouges and L’Open Tour, but not Foxity).

  • Anna Conway says:

    Good for you! Everyone needs a dog, or two!!!

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