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.
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.
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 a little furry friend.
It’s Good to be the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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…
- Dogs really do have pride of place in Paris. Find out about dining with dogs in Parisian cafes and restaurants.
- Paris is indeed dog friendly, but you must be aware of the etiquette. Here are the unwritten rules of owning a dog in the City of Light.
- We all know that shopping in Paris is top notch, and this includes shops for your furry friends. Check out the best pet stores in Paris on your next visit.
Written by Paige Bradley Frost for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.