Britain is a nation of animal lovers with many pets being considered as an important member of the family, and now more than ever before, holiday makers are searching for holidays that will allow them to take their furry friends along with them. Taking your pet on holiday with you can often be cheaper than leaving them in kennels, and will save them the stress of being separated from you. We think France is an ideal destination for pet friendly holidays due to its proximity to the UK and pleasant not-too-hot climate. With a small amount of planning you and your pet can enjoy a holiday to remember in France that’s a relaxing and stress-free experience for you both.

Before you go

In order to be able to travel abroad dogs, cats and ferrets will need a pet passport. You can get this from your vet who will be happy to answer any questions you may have about travelling with your pet. When travelling on the PETS Travel Scheme, there a number of other requirements that must be met, including a microchip and up to date rabies vaccination. This must have been given to your pet at least 21 days before your departure date and should be signed and stamped in your pet’s passport by the vet. These will both be checked before you are allowed to travel, so it’s very important to make sure you have everything sorted before you leave for France. It may also be worth checking with the company you insure your pet with that your cover is valid abroad. Additionally before you return home you will need to take your pet to a French vet for a tapeworm treatment which must be carried out within 24-120 hours of your return to the UK.

How to get to there

A great way to travel to France with a pet is by ferry. You can travel by ferry to a range of different French ports, with varying lengths of crossing so you will be able to choose the route that best suits you and your pet. Brittany Ferries have on-board kennel facilities on sailings to St Malo, Santander and Bilbao and dedicated pet friendly cabins on the majority of Spanish routes and crossings to Le Havre, and during shorter crossings you can leave your pet in the familiar surroundings of your car. If you choose this option you will usually be able to visit your pet during the crossing to check they are ok; however if you have any concerns about leaving them you can always try to familiarise them with the car deck by parking in an underground car park beforehand and leaving them for a short while to get them used to similar conditions. Once parked on the ferry be sure to secure your car with the windows slightly open for ventilation and most importantly remember to turn off your car alarm! Be sure to book early to get yourself a pet friendly cabin or kennel as they are extremely popular! For holidays in South Western France, why not consider a Spanish route to cut down on the driving time for your pet?

What to bring with you

A big water bowl is a must, especially for the car journey when travelling through France to your destination. French pet food can be slightly different to UK brands so it could be useful to stock up on your pet’s favourite food before you leave – especially for those fussy eaters! Also be sure to bring your pets’ favourite toys to keep them entertained and a basket or a blanket with their scent on to make them feel at home. Don’t forget necessities such as poo bags!

Where to stay

There is a huge variety of pet friendly self-catering cottages and gites in France, and these are really great as they can be a true home from home for you and your pet and allow you to stick to your usual daily routines. There are a number of important factors to check with the property owner before you book to make sure you have a fantastic holiday, including  whether the garden is fully enclosed and that the swimming pool is securely fenced (especially for keen swimmers!) but they should be happy to answer all of your questions and make sure the cottage is right for you. The majority of people who own pet friendly accommodation in France are animal lovers themselves and will be able to tell you some great places to visit with your pet and all the best walks. They will also be able to point you in the direction of the nearest vet who will be able to administer your pet’s tapeworm treatment before coming home, possibly even helping to arrange appointments if your French isn’t so good!

What to do on your pet-friendly holiday

The majority of French supermarkets, bars and restaurants are happy to welcome dogs, so you can bring your pet along with you on most day to day activities. France has some great beaches, the majority of which allow well-behaved dogs on a lead, so you and your pet can have plenty of fun in the sun together on your holiday. There are also a great number of rivers and canals here, and the riverbanks and towpaths are the ideal place to walk your dog on a hot day in the shade of the trees. Many of these riverside paths take you past some lovely medieval towns, churches and chateaux and are the perfect place to explore and experience some French culture and history. Dogs are also allowed to visit many of France’s famous landmarks, including Mont St Michel in Normandy; however it is always worth checking their websites or calling the local Tourist Office beforehand to be sure.

Holiday France Direct have over 600 fabulous pet-friendly cottages, gites and villas to choose from on their website www.holidayfrancedirect.co.uk, so you will be sure to find the perfect accommodation for you and your pet! You’ll also receive a code for 20% off of car and 2-legged passenger fares with Brittany Ferries, allowing you to choose the route that’s right for you.