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(2023 - Winter/Spring Issue)


After recently rescuing Cleo and Cairo, a pair of Havanese pups, from a dog shelter in Egypt we decided to bring them along on a road trip through France. It was our first time planning a vacation with canine companions; we were excited for beautiful rural roads dotted with charming towns, delicious food paired with local wines, and exploring a country that has a reputation for being dog-friendly. But I soon discovered much more.


We got over our jetlag in Paris and soon adopted a daily routine of morning walks, stopping at a bakery for pain au chocolat, while the afternoons ended with some off-leash time in the Carrousel Garden by the Louvre. After a few days we headed south—pups in tow—ready for the great France road trip.

Paris to Epernay

Epernay, which lies in the heart of the Champagne region, is also home to my niece, her husband and their two dogs. One afternoon, after a walk with our pet pooches down the famous Avenue de Champagne—renowned for champagne houses including Perrier-Jouët, Pol Roger and Moët & Chandon—it was time to quench our thirst with some bubbles.

Epernay to Troyes

Troyes’ Gothic churches, narrow streets and half-timbered houses made it feel like we had crossed into a fairy tale. The local tourism office gave a full welcome kit to Cleo and Cairo, including treats and a listing of off-leash areas and the many restaurants where they would be welcomed. Dogs as extra tablemates never failed to spark conversation among the diners.

Troyes to Pérouges

The medieval town of Pérouges is revered as one of France’s “Les Plus Beaux Villages,” a distinction that ranks the country’s most beautiful villages alongside our final destination, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. As we entered Pérouges via an ancient tower, the cobblestoned streets and vine-covered walls felt like a movie set. The dogs explored the nooks and crannies, dragging us down alleys and sniffing out any stray cats they could find.

Pérouges to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Our winding route south took us up and down through alpine scenery, past lavender fields and postcard-perfect villages. I realized my hands may have been gripping the steering wheel a little too tightly, as I was trying to make a smooth drive since poor Cairo we discovered is prone to car sickness! When we stopped, the dogs leapt out of the car, leading us into the Provençal village, which is breathtakingly carved out of the surrounding mountains. Seems they were born with an instinct for travel!


Although at times the dogs limited our ability to play tourist, having them forced us to slow our pace and fold into local life in a way that wouldn’t happen if they weren’t with us. Travelling with pets broke down barriers and made connections like no human travel companion ever could. There will certainly be more road trips for Cleo and Cairo!

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