Nice has been named the friendliest large French city for dogs for the second year in a row.
The decision came after 30 Millions d’amis, a monthly magazine, rated cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants according to how welcoming they are to dogs.
Nice scored 18.5 out of 20, ahead of Montpellier (17.7) and Grenoble (17.5), and with a greater score than its 17.1 in 2021.
The grading followed a questionnaire sent to city officials in France’s 42 largest cities asking them to answer on more than 30 criteria. The magazine received 80% of the questionnaires it sent.
The rating was based on various factors, including the number of public spaces in which dogs are allowed, the cleanliness of spaces, the presence of an official dedicated to animal welfare and general awareness of animals within the area.
Nice has been allowing its council staff to bring their pets to work since December 2021 and it allows dogs of any size to travel on several tram routes. It also has two beaches dedicated to dogs, with a third planned.
The Connexion visited one of these dog-friendly beaches, located along the Promenade des Anglais seafront walkway to interview dog owners, who all told of the incredible atmosphere the city provides them.
Nice allocated a portion of the Lenval public beach to dogs in June 2021. Dog owners can walk their dogs freely along a 320-metre-long stretch separated from other sections of the beach.
The city installed a large notice nearby with a Jack Russell on a longboard wearing sunglasses which reads: “Welcome on the beach for dogs. It is the second of such areas with the other beach near the Carras district.”
“I have been coming to the beach every morning for five months now,” said Franck Olivin, 44, a night-shift lorry driver and the owner of Jack, a six month-old mixed-breed dog (Cane Corso and Beauceron).
Mr Olivin has begun a tradition of finishing off his night shift with an hour-long play on the beach with Jack and particularly appreciated the fact his dog could roam freely.
“There is a therapeutic effect to taking them out to the beach,” said Emma Quidel, 23, who is a hospital receptionist and the owner of 18-month-old Belgian shepherd Ranger’s (correct spelling) and nine-year-old Boston Terrier Vador (the French equivalent of Dark Vader!).
Ms Quidel said both her dogs were stimulated by the sea and that the wind greatly benefitted their sense of smell. She has been going to the beach ever since she moved to Nice in February.
Nine-year-old “grumpy” Vador and 18-month old Ranger’s with his tongue out taking a sunbath on the Lenval public beach in Nice. Credit: Théophile Larcher
All of the people interviewed praised the friendly atmosphere of the dog beach, commenting on the regular refills of pet waste bag dispensers, which helps to keep the area clean.
They also made reference to a general awareness of dog behaviour from other owners, which resulted in many friendly chats and the exchange of tips on dog handling.
Ranger’s posing for the picture with the help of Ms Quidel. Credit: Théophile Larcher
Open to initiatives
People interviewed all agreed on the importance of having an area where they can let their dogs roam freely without fearing the consequences. One person’s eyes sparkled with relief when he was asked about the significance of this.
“I have not had any remarks or complaints since I came here,” said Louis-Antoine Delhaye, 30, an anaesthetist and the owner of two-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever Pandore.
Mr Delhaye said the main problem about taking his dog out on a beach was dealing with the looks of beach-goers. “There is an underlying shaming of dog-owners,” said Mr Delhaye.
Mr Delhaye compared Nice favourably with Sète, another smaller southern city where he lived for six months, praising the former for its animal welfare initiatives.
Vador was less energetic than his companion Ranger’s. Credit: Théophile Larcher
Vador was less energetic than his companion Ranger’s.Mr Delhaye said the dog beach in Sète was more difficult to access than the Lenval stretch in Nice, adding that it was located at the very end of the beach area only accessible through a narrow road which often resulted in being stuck in traffic jams on his way-out.
Mr Delhaye said he appreciated the city’s efforts to organise a ‘King of the animals’ event during the Nice Carnival, a celebration walk where owners were able to parade through the streets along with their pets.
“I came here in November 2019 and have seen all of what has been accomplished so far. I tell myself hopefully it is only the beginning,” said Mr Delhaye, taking the example of Italy where dogs are already allowed in retail stores.
The website plages.tv lists many French beaches where dogs are allowed. However, the website may not be up to date as Nice is only credited with a single dog beach. Contact your local town hall for further information.