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MOVING TO FRANCE

Paperwork and shots: How to bring a pet to France from the USA

Animal-loving Americans may wonder if they can bring their beloved pets with them when they travel to France - whether to live permanently or to stay for an extended period.

Dog
Your pet will need his or her paperwork in order to travel to France. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

The short answer is: Yes, you can.

The longer answer is: Yes, you can – but there’s rules and paperwork. 

Anyone bringing an animal into France from outside the EU faces paperwork and veterinary checks – travel within the Bloc is much simpler thanks to the EU Pet Passport scheme – but the exact rules vary from country to country.

Here are the requirements if you’re bringing an animal from the USA. 

What animals are allowed

First of all there’s the question of what a pet actually is. 

The USDA and EU authorities, including France, define a pet as a privately-owned companion animal not intended for research or resale and includes the following animal groups only: dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, rodents, hedgehog/tenrecs, reptiles, amphibians and pet birds (non-poultry). 

If your animal is not one of the types listed above or considered poultry, it does not qualify as a pet, and is subject to different rules

Meanwhile, the following breeds of dog are forbidden for travel into France unless they are registered by the American Kennel Club under special rules: Staffordshire terrier, American Staffordshire terrier (pitbulls), mastiff (boerbulls), rottweilers, and tosa.

The rules

The following requirements are necessary for travel into France with your pet (up to a maximum of five animals per family):

  • The animal must be at least 12 weeks old
  • Your pet must be identified by a microchip (standard ISO 11784 or annex A ISO standard 11785) or a tattoo. In case of identification with a tattoo, the tattoo must be clearly readable and applied before July 2011
  • Your pet must have a valid rabies vaccination. If it is a first vaccination against the virus, you must wait 21 days between the last shot of the vaccination and departure.
  • You must get a health certificate from your veterinarian and endorsed by USDA;
  • The official health certificate will be issued by an USDA accredited veterinarian and endorsed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
  • You can find a State-by-State list of USDA offices here
  • USDA endorsement is required for all certificates except those issued by military veterinarians for dogs, cats and ferrets.

How long is the certificate valid?

The official health certificate will be valid for 10 days, from the date of endorsement until the date of arrival in France – or any EU port of entry. For maritime travel, the 10-day window is extended for a period equal to the duration of the voyage. 

This certificate continues to be valid for the purpose of further movements within the EU for up to four months from its date of issue.

Quarantine 

Pets do not need to be quarantined as long as all entry requirements are met.

The paperwork

The application form required for entry into France with a domestic pet, is available here as a pdf document.

Heading back to America

Remember, too, if your stay in France has a definitive end date, you’ll need to take your pet back to the US from France – and there’s rules and paperwork involved there, too.

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TOURISM

What to know when visiting France’s lavender fields this summer

Known affectionately as 'blue gold,' France’s lavender fields are a popular tourist attraction every year. Here is what you need to know about visiting them:

What to know when visiting France's lavender fields this summer

Lavender is the “soul of Provence,” the French region where the fields can be found. Like wine, lavender was brought to France around 2,000 years ago by the Romans. The flower is the emblem of ‘Haute Provence’ regional identity, though the fields stretch from just outside of Nice almost all the way up to Valence, and they are not fully exclusive to France.

Even the washerwomen, those whose job it was to clean clothes and linen, were referred to as les lavandières in France. 

The flowers, which can be found mainly in two species in Provence, have several uses – as oils for cooking and bathing, as a perfume for soaps, and even as an antiseptic for healing wounds and scars.

The lavender essential oil that comes from Provence is even an AOP (L’Appellation d’origine protégée) in France. 

When is the best time to see the fields?

Typically, the lavender flowers from around mid-June to early-to-mid August. However, depending on the weather, especially if there is a drought or hotter temperatures, the lavender might flower sooner than normal, which is likely the case for this year.

This is unfortunately also a side effect of climate change, which might be pushing up the lavender flowering season.

Where should I go?

The Valensole plateau is perhaps the most famous place to go for lavender fields. Speckled with several small Provencal towns, the area is beautiful, with a mountainous backdrop in the distance. If you go here, you might also be able to see the sunflower fields too.

Sault is perhaps a bit less known, partially because due to its altitude, the lavender typically flowers a bit later.

It is still a great place to go see the fields, and every year the town hosts a Lavender Festival in August. Walking (or cycling) between the villages (Aurel, Saint-Trinit and Saint-Christol) is very manageable.

This is not too far from the Sénanque Abbey, a medieval 12th century abbey which is surrounded by lavender fields. You might notice some small stone houses called bories in the fields, which were historically used for field workers.

Luberon Valley is another location that comes highly recommended. In the area, there is a regional national park, home to rosé wines, castles (chateaux) and charming villages, like Gordes, a stunning hilltop village.

Here you can also find the Musée de la Lavande, if you are looking to learn more about harvesting, producing and distilling lavender, its industry, and some interesting regional history.

How to get there?

You can take a TGV train to Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, or rent a car. With a car, you can also enjoy the several scenic routes that allow you to see the fields from the roads.

What else is there to do while in the region?

The area is also known for its rosé wine, so you could take the opportunity to go visit some vineyards or spend some time wine-tasting. 

In the summer months, the south of France can get quite warm. If you are looking to go swimming or enjoy the water, the Gorges du Verdon are not too far away. Though a bit of a tourist hotspot, the canyon is a beautiful and a wonderful place for paddling along in a canoe.

If you’re a fan of hiking, you can always go for a (light) hike along the Ochre Trail near Roussillon. Here, there are two marked paths that will take you through sunset-colored red and yellow cliffs in an old quarry.

Words of Wisdom

Unless you have been given express permission, do not pick the lavender, as this is the farmer’s livelihood. You can always buy a bouquet from nearby souvenir shops for your photo shoots! 

Also, stick to the paths that exist to avoid trampling any crops, and of course do not litter in the fields. 

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