Getting my Dog to Paris

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Getting my Dog to Paris
Luka’s a bit embarrassed by his passport photo. He wasn’t having a good hair day and he thinks he looks a bit chubby. I don’t think it’s so bad—at least he’s got a nice smile and his tongue doesn’t look too long.   Did I mention that Luka is an Alaskan Malamute? Yeah, he’s my dog and one of the first to get an official EU Pets passport. He didn’t need it to go backpacking or anything like that (I decided he’s got to wait until he graduates from university), but to move from London to Paris, which we recently did. And can I say just what a nightmare it was? I thought that bringing my 95-pound dog from England to France would be a breeze compared to the move we did last year—Los Angeles to London. But it was actually an even bigger logistical nightmare.   Flying with a dog is difficult. Especially when you have no car to get your dog to the airport. Especially when your dog is the size of a pony and his crate is the size of a small apartment. Speaking of which, if I stuck that thing on Ile Saint-Louis, I could probably rent it out for about 1100 euros a month. Not a bad idea.   Anyway, transportation issues coupled with the cost of Luka’s flight made us decide to make the trek via train or ferry. The Eurostar would be a snap! But not so fast—no pets allowed. It wouldn’t work unless I could dress Luka up in a frumpy muumuu and convince the Eurostar employees that Luka is really “Lucinda,” my younger sister with an unfortunate hormone problem that makes her sprout large quantities of hair and which yes, does make her a bit unattractive (although she’s got a great personality) and please—Lucinda is VERY sensitive about her appearance, so don’t ask her any questions! Believe me, I actually thought about it, but realized that sadly, it probably wouldn’t fly.   The only other train that goes from England to France is the Eurotunnel, which departs from Dover, 70 miles from London, and arrives in Calais, 180 miles from Paris. Pets are allowed, as long as you have them in a car. This wouldn’t be so bad—we could rent a car in London, drive to Dover with Luka and our bags, then train over to Calais and drive to Paris, where we would drop off the car. When I went to book a rental car though, I found out that doing that would be just as expensive as flying. If you rent a car in England and drop it off in France, you’d better be prepared to part with some serious cash—it was 800 dollars! Okay, next option. Maybe my boyfriend, Paul, could go on the Eurotunnel by foot, rent a car in Calais, and come back to pick up Luka and me at the Dover train station. That wouldn’t work either. Eurotunnel doesn’t take foot passengers.   We were down to our last option: a ferry. The Hoverspeed was fast, an hour each way, and not exorbitant. It allowed foot passengers and also pets, as long as they were in a car. Paul would train two hours from London to Dover at an unreasonably early hour while lugging about 500 pounds of luggage, take the Hoverspeed ferry over to Calais, rent a car at the Hoverport, hop back on the ferry with the car and come back to Dover. Meanwhile, Luka and I would deal with our landlord and handing over the key, train to Dover with about 300 pounds of luggage, meet Paul and the rental car at the train station, ferry back to Calais, and drive three to four hours to Paris. It would be exhausting, but we had no other options. I made the reservations on the ferry, booked the rental car, checked to make sure I could take Luka on the train to Dover, and tried to think of every possible problem that could (and would) arise.   Two days before the big day I came across a problem I didn’t even think about when booking the ferry tickets. The rental car office was closed for lunch for two hours at exactly the time Paul needed to pick up the car. He had only an hour and a half between when his ferry arrived in Calais and his ferry departed back to Dover, so he couldn’t wait until the employees were finished with their Bordeaux and foie gras. This is something that anyone traveling in Europe needs to consider when dealing with logistics: a lot of companies, even big, well-known, American companies, are closed for several hours during lunch.   I tried to get him onto the earlier ferry, which left at 9.00, but was told it was booked. There was another car rental agency at the Eurotunnel station in Calais, but it was about a half-hour drive from the Hoverport station, so he probably wouldn’t have time to taxi over there, rent the car, and make it back in time to catch the ferry. I booked it anyway, and he left London at 5 a.m., early enough to try to make it onto the 9.00 ferry standby. He made it to the Hoverport in Dover in plenty of time to make it, but didn’t get on because there was no 9:00 ferry. I’d been given misinformation.   So now our only hope was that a) the ferry would leave on time, b) the farther rental car agency wouldn’t decide to join their buddies for Bordeaux and foie gras over lunch and therefore be closed, and c) he could find a taxi driver agreeable (or insane) enough to drive the requisite 90 miles per hour to make it in time.   By some miracle, it worked. Paul got the car, made it just in time back on the ferry, and Luka and I were lucky enough to find people to help us with our luggage on our way to Dover.
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  • scott holmes
    2019-01-25 13:43:13
    scott holmes
    how do I get a passport to france?