Fido Friendly - Issue 1, 2007


Elegant Traveling Gone to the Dogs: Dogs Encouraged! By Stephanie Abrams

You've seen the listings of hotels that accept dogs and been warmed by the thought that some hotels ‘welcome' dogs. But how often have you been told by the management of a luxury, historic hotel that dogs are encouraged? Now, that's my kind of place! And where do you find that level of understanding of the needs of you and your pet? At none other than the group of family-owned chateaux managed by the family that invented the chateau-hotel concept: Grandes Etapes Francaises, better known in the US as GEF Hotels ( You'll find the red carpet rolled out for you and your four-footed family members in a way that defies description. And I'm hoping that you're going to take Fido in hand and head for the experience of a lifetime.

If you have a passion for traveling with your dog, you need to travel to places that appreciate your pet as much as you do! In general, you'll find France to be a dog-owner's paradise. Fido is welcome everywhere you go and you won't have to tote around a guide book of cafes with terraces for outdoor dining with your dog because restaurants expect you and your pet to dine together. The French love their dogs and they go everywhere together so you won't have to worry about dog sitters at meal time. Unless Fido fits quietly in your shoulder bag, you will need to leave him at your hotel for most of your visits to the interiors of historic sites and museums.

Some hotels may have size/weight restrictions and may charge a fee for Fido's stay but rest assured that you and Fido will be well received and that starts with your overseas flight. If you're flying to France with a small dog, Air France will allow you to bring Fido into the cabin with you with the expectation that Fido will be in a crate that fits under the seat in front of you. Also, check Continental Airlines services for pet travel. Continental has a wonderful success record for safe transport of pets that are not traveling in the passenger cabin. Note that, if you are making a connecting flight, you'll want to get verification for yourself, that your pet has truly been placed aboard you next flight. If the event that you must land in another city before your transatlantic flight, check with your travel agent to see if there is a flight with a stop that does not require a change of planes. By doing that, you, your luggage and your pet will continue on the same flight which will give you more peace of mind that you and Fido will arrive at the same time in the same place.

Be sure to have all your documentation from your vet showing that Fido is healthy and current with shots. France has no quarantine issues nor dramatic programs for importation of your pet as you will have if you are planning to enter the UK.

You'll find a wide range of hotels for every budget ready to welcome you, but in this dog's life, living like a royalty is in order! Give consideration to treating yourself to the occasional splurge by staying in a castle hotel in France for as many nights as your budget will allow! You and your pet will never forget the fairytale experience!

The concept of the castle-hotel was originated in France by the hospitality visionary Rene Travesac who purchased a French chateau for the purpose of creating a hotel that would provide comfort, charm, elegance, luxury, serenity, and an opportunity for your to put your best paw forward as you step into a storybook setting. Today, 50 years since the family purchased the first historic chateau, the Traversacs own and operate 10 chateaux in France, each with its own amazing history, each located in an excellent area for sightseeing, shopping, antiquing hiking, biking, hot air ballooning and exploring the uniqueness of that particular area and situated in its own in park-like settings. Castles, abbeys, manor houses, and palatial dwelling make up the Grandes Etapes Francaises group ( located in the Loire Valley, among the vineyards of Burgundy, in Alsace near Strasbourg and Colmar, on a mountainside in France overlooking Geneva, Switzerland, close to Paris, and in the south of France surrounded by St. Paul de Vence and a hop to Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo where you'll find more modern ‘hacienda' style accommodations with your own private villa and private pool!

The best news is that you can enjoy every moment of historic, elegant castle living with the people and the pet that you love! And your pet will unquestionably provide the introduction to so many people you meet along the way!

While visiting GEF Hotels on a recent trip to France, I had the pleasure of meeting some four-footed furry guests including a Cocker Spaniel and a Dalmatian. When I mentioned how happy I was to connect the sweet Dalmatian who was traveling with a British couple and staying at the Chateau de Gully in Burgundy, the chateau' General Manager said to me, “We don't just welcome dogs. We encourage them!” That tells the whole story! Love me, love my dog! It's basic at the most luxurious hotels in France!

Gotta Fly Now! sm
Stephanie Abrams • January 2007

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