Dogs in France

Dog toilet in the north of FranceIt’s a well-known stereotype, right or wrong, that French footpaths are covered with dog poo. There’s certainly a fair amount of poo here in St. Jean de Sixt, and in an effort to clean up the dog poo in Annecy, the council installed dog toilets. Pictured is one from further up north near Boulogne, where I’m staying at the moment. These large dirt pens let dogs do their business and walk away without their owners having to address the steaming pile their dogs have left behind. Annecy also provides bag dispensers around town so that owners whose dogs prefer not to use the toilets can remove the poo from the pavement. However, St Jean de Sixt does not, and I learnt this the hard way.

Some friends asked me to look after their dog, Snoopy, who looks much like her namesake, overnight. She seemed edgy at 8am the next morning, so I took her out, half asleep, with a coat hiding my pyjamas. Within a metre of getting her onto some nearby grass, she stopped to poo. About 30 metres away, a woman in a chalet started shrieking that it was her property and I must clean it up. The dog was still pooing. As I was yelling out sorry (I had no idea it was private property that far away from the house: it looked like part of the public field the house backs onto), she repeated herself. As I tried to explain that I would go home and get a bag, she was again yelling the same words at me, and I was by now embarrassed that she had woken all her neighbours because of me. I know the norm in France is to talk right back over the person talking to you, but there was no point: she was too far away. When she finally finished, I explained once more that I had no bag on me and that I would return with one and she thanked me and said that was kind. Err, no it’s not kind: I didn’t feel like I had a choice!

Had Snoopy pooed just one metre before, where it was practically piled up on the road next to the field, she couldn’t have said a word. Or could she? My friend here near Boulogne told me a woman once told her off when her dog was pooing in a public place, even though my friend already had a bag in her hand to collect the mess. So despite the stereotype of streets covered in dog poo being the norm, clearly, at least two French women object. I can’t help but feel they’re fighting an uphill battle though. Good luck to them.


I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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4 comments on “Dogs in France
  1. Jennie says:

    French people just like to tell others off, even if what the person is doing is not bothering anyone or even against any rules. I’m come across that many times unfortunately…

  2. Joan Fry says:

    I was about to comment that French women just like to scream when I read the previous comment.
    It is a habit amongst women of a “certain age”, and the opinion is that they are mal baisée. My neighbor is all of that plus une petite prof, so can you imagine what we have to endure in this petit hameau.

    We call her the concierge.

    I used to wave my plastic bag around my head – to no avail. She wanted attention so badly waking up the neighbors was a bonus.

    Glad to find out about yelling back. I started to do it, felt ashamed of my shrewish rudeness but now realise I am encultured

  3. elizabethm says:

    Perhaps the new law prohibiting husbands from yelling at wives will be extended to include wives yelling at the neighbors or at customers in shops or clients in restaurents.

  4. Diane says:

    Love reading about dog poop in France. It’s certainly an uphill battle but I fight it too!

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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