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Pet Travel: Dog-Friendly Spa Holidays in France

We used to tell our now-departed dogs, Bozo and Pecan, that if they were really good, we would take them to heaven— Paris, France, that is. For nowhere else had we seen dogs treated so royally, dining out in French restaurants, riding on subway seats and attending big-city Christmas parties thrown specifically for them. Crictor, the boa constrictor snake of picture-book fame, who rode around Paris in a motorcar with his mistress, had nothing on the dogs.

But now, after a recent visit to a seawater therapy spa in Brittany ( part of northern France that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean), I know better. I tell our new puppy, an 18-month-old border collie called Molly, that real heaven for dogs exists at any of the nine Thalassa oceanside spas. All of them welcome dogs.

During my six-day cure at the Quiberon spa, I passed small doggies navigating the hotel halls and watched big ones delightedly exploring the dunes and nature trails just outside. I watched as a large German shepherd checked into the four-star Sofitel hotel with his master. First things first, they ordered drinks at the hotel bar and sat sipping on the outside patio admiring the ocean view. When a Yorkie (one of a pair) jumped up on one of my companion’s laps as we enjoyed drinks before dinner in the hotel lobby, I remarked to the hotel manager how different all this hotel canine camaderie was for North Americans. “Oh, that’s nothing,” he said. “You should see our institute in Carnac. Every day at noon, we hold a special doggie lunch on the lawn.” Even in our hotel, the room prices posted on the back of the door included the price for the chef’s special blend of paté—for four-footed guests only.

Although dogs were not allowed in the local church at Mass (along with cigarettes and ice cream!), they were permitted to walk leashed along the beautiful town beach. The southern coast of Brittany, known as the Wild Coast, offers many areas for good walks. Dogs inclined to leap into the surf however, should stick to the marked nature trails or the areas where one can walk through the standing stones left by the Celts; much of the coast is rocky and rough. As to whether dogs can parttake of the salty baths, underwater jet therapies or mud wraps, said the hotel manager of the Dinard spa, “So far, the seawater treatments are reserved only for the horses.”

For further information on any of the Thalassa International spas, call 011-33-1-47-42-08-08, Fax 011-33-1-47-42-15-31 or write to Thalassa International, 5, boulevard Malesherbes, 75008, Paris, France. Rates for dogs vary from 50 French francs per day (about $10 U.S.?) at the two-star Ibis hotel near the Quiberon spa to 100 French francs at the three-star Le Touquet spa in northern France on the English Channel. For flights, call Air France (tel from U.S.?) On our Air France flight back to North America, a terrier sat quietly with his mistress on the plane a few rows in front of us. As to whether he also enjoyed the squid and octopus we had for lunch, I can only guess, “Mais oui!”





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