I am embarrassed to admit this, but when researching how dog-friendly French Riviera is, I did not do my job right.
Côte d’Azur was on my bucket list since forever, so I advocated heavily for spending our summer vacation there. In the end, we chose French Riviera for the beaches, history, overall atmosphere and the fact that we can get there by car, which meant that our puppy, Lorry, could come with us.
It all started perfectly. We managed to take care of all the papers for Lorry and find an affordable and pet-friendly Airbnb place in Nice. The one we choose even had a small yard/terrace in front. Puppy heaven!
Our image of France was a super modern country, somewhere Lorry could roam freely (or as much as that is possible on a leash :D) and share our adventures fully. That idea was shaken the moment we decided to go to the beach.
What do you mean, a dog on the beach?
While researching, I focused on personal blogs and forum comments saying how their dogs were welcome everywhere, and how people used to stop them on the streets just to say “Hi” to their pooch. There was even mention of a police officer stopping the traffic to give the pooch in question a kiss in his very cute derriere. But the cultural acceptance does not always translate to the bureaucratical one.
There is only one dog-friendly beach in whole Nice – Plage Lanterne (sometimes called port de Carras).
Most beaches in Nice don’t allow entry to dogs, not even on a leash. For some, this rule is in place during the summer months only, but even those are not many. We have seen some people bring their dogs to the beach in the evenings but there are clear signs barring their entry into all but this one. Even on Plage Lanterne (plage = beach), your dog has to be leashed.
Like all beaches in Nice, this is a pebble one as well and you can find it at the very end of the Promenade des Anglais. The water is very clear and warm. Even when you go in deeper, you can see the seabed.
Are there any dog-friendly beaches outside of Nice?
Yes, few, but there are some. You can find an extensive list of dog-friendly beaches in France here. The information is from June 2016 and, while it’s written in French, it’s easy to understand. There is an English translation from 2015, but I hear it will be updated soon. 🙂
Another great resource is this one. You can find detailed information about each beach in particular – picture, location and a brief description. These are the ones we tried out and some that secret places are not on the list:
There are two dog-friendly beaches in Menton. We went to Dog Beach (Plage Chiens, chien = dog) just after Garavan port and we were disappointed. Beach is pebble one and small, which is completely ok. The problem are large stones that make entering the water challenging (serious risk of an ankle injury) and some kind of stream? that flows into the water in the middle of the beach.
The second dog-friendly beach is in front of the Casino, so I recommend you to try that one, and let us know how you liked it. 🙂
There are no official beaches that are dog-friendly. However, there are some smaller, not official beaches, but coves on Cap d’Antibes where you and your puppy can have a swim. I recommend this more as a part of your Cap d’Antibes’ Sentier Littoral hike than as something to base your vacation on.
CANNES (Île Sainte-Marguerite)
Cannes truly is wonderful and a must-see for everyone travelling to French Riviera. But while there are many sand beaches to choose from, none of them is dog-friendly. However, mere 15 minutes away by boat, is Ile Sainte-Marguerite, or as well like to call it – puppy heaven.
This was the most excited we saw Lorry on this trip – he swam and ran his little heart out. The best of all? There were not that many people at all so there was hardly anyone to disturb.
Does this mean Lorry got to have fun after all?
Absolutely! Having a limited number of beaches to choose from did not mean he did not get to swim or explore all the nooks of Nice and surroundings, it just meant we had to get creative and accommodating from time to time. He was a regular fish in the water, don’t worry! 🙂
A bigger surprise was the fact that dogs are mostly banned from National Parks, some outdoor attractions (such as Trophy of Augustus in Turbie) and museums (thought this one was to be expected), so that cut our list of puppy-friendly activities a bit short.
On the plus side, almost all restaurants and caffes are completely ok with having dogs on the terrace and in the restaurant itself. They even have a bowl of water ready. 🙂
A great delight was the fact that Lorry was allowed in the biggest mall in the area, Cap 3000, including the individual stores, the food court and the supermarket. He made a lot of friends there.
So, is French Riviera dog-friendly?
If we look at it from the cultural standpoint, definitely. If we look at it from the bureaucratical one, so-so. While dogs being banned from most beaches might not seem like such big of a deal, it certainly is if beach time makes a big part of your vacation.
Luckily, there is a way, you just have to be prepared for some compromises.
Get a hotel that is close to one of the beaches you know for sure are pet-friendly, or go with a car and treat everything as one big expedition. As for the attractions, research everything well beforehand.
I have to admit, we were feeling down for the first few days but then we decided to shake it off and go exploring, and we found some breathtakingly beautiful places we can enjoy together along the way. This is just one more information you should take into consideration when planning your days in Nice and south of France. And I have no doubt, all of you will have a blast!
Bonus: Dog-related French vocabulary!
- Chien(s) = Dog(s)
- Toutou = Small dog (also a familiar expression for a dog)
- Interdit = not allowed
- Chien en laisse = Dog on a leash
- Sans laisse = Without a leash
- Pas de chien, meme tenus en laisse = No dogs, even on a leash
- Laisse = Leash
- Museliere = Muzzle
- Plage = Beach
- La liste des plages autorisées aux chiens = A list of beaches where dogs are allowed
Next up for dog-friendliness review? Marseille! Subscribe to our newsletter to stay tuned. 🙂