I’ve been making a lot of noise about our upcoming trip to Paris with Chloe this fall, and it finally occurred to me that maybe you’re wondering why we’re taking her with us at all. What do we plan to do with her? Will having a dog with us prevent us from fully experiencing what the city has to offer? Will it add to our understanding and appreciation of Paris to have Chloe with us? They’re fair questions, particularly since it does take extra effort (and money) to bring a dog to Paris.
If we were visiting Paris for the first time, we’d consult lists of things to see and do in Paris and we’d create our own must-see list, which would include several museums (at least the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Musée de l’Orangeries), a trip up the Eiffel Tower, a visit to Notre Dame and to Sainte Chapelle, a ride along the Seine on a bateau mouche, and a lot of walking — certainly along the Champs-Elysées, and through Montmartre and the Latin Quarter and St. Germain-des-Près. That’s a classic first trip to Paris, and you can do nearly all of those things in the company of a small dog — I’d have no hesitation about tucking Chloe into her stealth carrier while we visited the Eiffel Tower and the two churches, and she’d be welcome everywhere else except the museums (we’d have to visit them while she napped after her morning walk).
This trip is more relaxed. We don’t feel compelled to re-visit Paris’s must-see sights, and are instead looking forward to spending our time walking and eating — activities that are better with a dog. Here’s what we plan to do:
- We’ll walk. We always bring books of walking tours with us for inspiration, but we’re also happy setting off without a guide and just wandering through the central arrondissements. At every turn we find a building or a pocket park or a view or a shop or a sign — or even graffiti — that catches our attention. On this trip, we’ll make a special effort to visit the dog cemetery (Le Cimitière des chiens) in Asnières-sur-Seine, and we’ll walk along the Promenade Plantée, Paris’s version of New York’s High Line park.
- We’ll eat. We’ll get the world’s best croissants for breakfast, we’ll go to the tiny Marais restaurant my husband loves and have a slab of côte-de-boeuf on wooden trenchers, and we’ll picnic on fresh baguettes and jars of rillettes and cheese made from unpasteurized milk. We’ll get another bottle of the homemade raspberry eau-de-vie we found on our last trip and soldier through another helping of aligot (an astonishing Auvergnois specialty involving mashed potatoes and Tomme cheese). If we wake up early with jet lag, we’ll get onion soup at Les Halles. We’ll find places to eat that we haven’t yet been to. And we’ll do all of that with Chloe. She’ll come right in the door and sit with us and it will be awesome.
- We’ll cook a couple of meals. I always bring a collection of tiny French cookbooks with us, because they don’t take up much space and sometimes it’s a welcome break to cook something simple in the apartment. Besides, bringing a shopping list to the Franprix across the street and walking home with groceries, or getting a roasted chicken at the neighborhood farmers’ market, makes me feel, fleetingly, like a local.
- We’ll visit a couple of museums. There are only two museums on our list this time (the Musée Jacquemart-André and the Musée des arts décoratifs), and we’ll go to them while Chloe’s snoozing in the apartment.
- We’ll visit some shops we like, and seek out a few more I’ve read about since our last visit. While my husband is working, I’ll check out some dog supply stores and daycare centers, because I can’t help myself (also, there’s nothing Chloe likes more than a store full of dog food, treats and toys).
- We’ll check out the dog-friendly parts of Paris’s parks — more out of loyalty to Dog Jaunt readers than to exercise Chloe, I have to say, since I expect that she’ll get plenty of exercise walking with us around the city. Still, it’ll be interesting to visit the Tuileries, or the Luxembourg Gardens, and figure out which parts of them are dog-friendly. It’ll also be a great excuse to visit the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes, neither of which I’ve ever seen.
Pretty low-key, right? But that’s what we’re looking forward to — and we’re really looking forward to sharing all those activities (except the museums) with Chloe. As I’ve said before, walking a dog is a marvelous way to see a new neighborhood and to meet new people. You’re forced to take things slowly and to interact with passers-by and other dog owners (we’ll get a chance to practice our new French dog-walking phrases!). Like shopping for groceries, having a dog with us, and dealing with her everyday needs, will let us pretend that we’re locals rather than tourists. And I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to eating meals in restaurants with Chloe — how civilized that will be, and how fun.