What do I need to know - I've got info about passports/microchip/rabies jab/worming etc but what about the practicalities - what happens to them on a ferry journey? Is it better to go on the Eurotunnel?
What about in France - are dogs welcome in shops/restaurants? Can you get the normal food brands? Is there any laws on leads/poop scooping/being allowed on beaches?
We have done it and are doing it next year with both boys <wibble> We used the tunnel as the dog stays in the car and ferry car decks are horrendously noisy. GingerDog waits really well in the car but I simply couldn't risk him being stressed out, sick or chewing and spending the whole journey worrying that we had to make the return leg. The tunnel was so easy we were worried we had overlooked something. The dog stays in the car with you and the crossing is so quick- GingerDog slept through it We always take our own food as again the journey is a stress to a dog and I felt that adding a new food was a risk not worth taking. We always poo pick but many areas people seem not too bothered and we are regarded with some curiosity. Aside from that we normally sit outdoors to eat etc as we head south so it's hot enough. Once you have factored in passports, extra admin charge for taking the dog on tunnel/ ferry, vets treatment before return (this has changed since we last went so not sure how much it would cost now) accommodation charges and possibly an extra insurance payment if your policy does not include foreign travel it's not really cheaper than using a decent kennels/ dog sitter unless you go for a fortnight or more. However we enjoy walking and holiday rurally and it is a joy to have the dogs with us, we don't do it from a financial perspective and would certainly not do it if we were to take a city break.
I live in France, a rural part of the south which may be a bit different from large cities though. Round here dogs are welcome everywhere, including restaurants, coffee shops and food stores, unless there is a sign on the door (very rare). Many dogs spend their day under a coffee table by their owners' feet.
Quite a few dogs are left to wander about during the day, many dogs are off lead and their owners don't bother to recall them, which can be a nuissance if you have a dog-reactive dog. Beware of the pooh, it's everywhere, no one picks it up but of course that isn't a reason why you shouldn't be more British and pick up after your dog.
Most brands of doggie food are available here, either in supermarkets, pet stores or DIY-type stores like Gamme Vert. However, if in doubt just bring your own food so as not to risk upsetting your dog's tummy.
I've only ever used the Eurostar and the dogs just stayed in the car with us.
Took mr P this year. Fab experience. Tunnel great. Stayed in two hotels both v welcoming. Had checked they were pet friendly. Ate out loads and always made welcome. Sat outside though but was offered inside table on cold eve.
We took our two last year. The ferry was 3 hours (Portsmouth to Cherbourg) and although we were a bit worried about leaving them in the car, they were fine. We used DAP collars on them for the journey and have them some tablets and were supposed to help with nerves and anxiety.
The dogs have their microchips scanned before getting on the ferry and their passports checked and the same on the way back. You need to take them to the French vet before bringing them back for treatment (I forget if it is worms or other parasites).
We stayed in a cottage which was fine. The beach close to us was supposed to be no dogs, but the French seemed to ignore all the signs (and the cottage owner lied to us and told us before we arrived that dogs were fine on the beach). Cafes and restaurants were OK if eating outside. We'd certainly do it again.
A tip I was given which I feel is sound advice is to nip into your vets just before you go and get them to run over the dig with the scanner to check the chip is still where it is supposed to be. It's highly unlikely to have moved but for the sake of 5 minutes why take the risk?!