France is a land of ironies, many delightful, some angry. I’ve always been amazed: Rules where dogs rule.
I’ve seen photos of my dogs over the years in central Paris: in the Boucherie Moderne, one of the best butcher shops in town, to get on your nerves; sits at a table (in his own chair) at Le Taillevent, a Michelin-starred guardian of haute cuisine; stand comfortably squeezed between human legs on a rush hour subway train; I sat contentedly on the footrest of my Vespa as we glided down Boulevard Saint-Germain.
But I don’t have any where (I think) they would Really happy to be: scratching your back on a lush patch of grass, lounging on a picnic blanket or digging up a flower bed … because our best for decades ami has been banned from most of the city’s green spaces.
Dogs could do anything they wanted on busy streets, sidewalks, and narrow cobblestone paths, and their humans could avoid tidying up anything they left behind with barely a cop eyebrow raised. But put as much as a paw in any other than a handful of the city’s 490 parks and gardens and his or her owner would almost certainly be hit with a hefty fine.
As of 2019, that has finally changed, and for the first time, I’ll be enjoying the arrival of spring as much as local Parisians do. New regulations, in line with “the evolving habits of Parisians and their desire for more pet and family-friendly spaces,” allow dogs access to an additional 7,000 acres of grass, woodland and gardens across the City of Light, adding a whopping quarter of a million in numbers of the trees my Vizsla can lift his leg up on.
Finally we can enjoy a sunny afternoon together in the breathtaking architectural Parc Monceau in the 8th arrondissement or in Montmartre’s impressive Jardin Sauvage Saint-Vincent. Some parks provide for the creation of designated play areas for dogs.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that dogs must always be kept on a leash for the time being and even then are not allowed in parks with children’s play areas. those that are categorized as dangereux (Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Tosa) are not welcome anywhere. Violating these rules could result in a fine of 38 euros for breaking the leash or 150 euros for walking with a prohibited breed.
There is still only one real unleashed dog park in the whole city, Caniparc Denfert Rochereau in the 14th century. It’s closed, popular, and open 24/7, but it’s a relatively small room with dirt, a few trees, and no trash cans in an area south of the center. If you’re ready to trudge even further to the sprawling wooded parks on the far east or west of Paris, dogs have always been welcome in sections of the Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne (off-leash, unofficial). But be careful: you may have to share the trails with horses and others Habits.
Vive la France!