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A Fun Word for Wine + Jean-Marc's Epic Farewell at Chateau Beaupin

Doggone it! A Travel and Dog Lovers Edition

Corsica Ferries cruise liner French bulldog Toulon Menorca
Millow, an 8-year-old French bulldog, enjoying the salty air en route to Minorca, Spain

From Toulon to Minorca Jean-Marc and I sailed across the Mediterranean sea with dozens of wonderful dogs. Enjoy all the photos of these seasoned traveler-toutous in my column below. First, meet a cherished reader and dog lover...

You may know Natalia from the cheering and affectionate comments she’s left here over the years. Natalia’s enthusiasm and support have touched me and other bloggers, including Lynn McBride of the delicious Southern Fried French journal. Lynn recently asked Natalia to share about her French connection. Read Natalia’s thoughtful reply here and see her two adorable chiens


: dog, hound, mutt

avoir un mal de chien à faire = to have a heck of a time doing something
avoir un mal de chien = to be as sick as a dog
les chiens ne font pas des chats
= the apple doesn't fall far from the tree 

Autumn Excursion in France: "Women in Burgundy" - An adventure designed especially for "Wander-ful Women!" September 20 to 30, 2023 - Includes seven nights in Burgundy and three nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.


You may not be aware, but each time I write a new edition for this blog, a few to several donations come in. This truly is a reader-supported journal. For the week of May 1st, special thanks to readers Mel L. and Karen L. for your donations, and to reader Carolyn, who advertised her Women in Burgundy Tour. Many of you have asked to advertise in this newsletter and, until recently, I have declined ads. For now, if you have a France or French-related announcement and would like to sponsor this journal, please contact me at [email protected] Thank you!

by Kristi Espinasse
Things don’t always go as planned when traveling overseas, but some things soften the blow of such travel woes: dogs, for example… 

When we learned our overnight ferry from Toulon to Minorca would be delayed 8 hours (therefore losing us one full day on the island), my husband and I were sorely disappointed. If Jean-Marc’s frustration was summed up in one word—merde!—my reaction might've been an old-fashioned “doggone it!” (Only because it fits the theme of this story…and you’ll soon understand why…)

Not only would we be staying all those extra hours on the boat, but we were told to pack up and leave our cabine earlier than expected. So much for an afternoon sieste to break up the boring wait. While Jean-Marc argued with the manager at the onboard receptionist desk, I waited awkwardly by the luggage room. Another passenger sat with her fox terrier. We soon struck up a conversation about traveling with pets: “Corsica Ferries is one of the only ferries--if not the only--that allow dogs onboard, with access to all the public areas.” Madame explained. “The other navires require you to stow your dog in the boat’s underbelly, in a cage.

That’s how I learned that Corsica Ferries was known for its dog-friendly policy.

Suddenly, I began to notice all the dogs on board, and for the duration of our trip (and on the return voyage) I didn't see the hours go by... so busy was I checking out all the seaworthy chiens and talking to a lot of lovely passengers and pet owners…

Here are some of the traveling toutous I had the pleasure of meeting... 

Zoe, 9 year old. Bull terrier from Italy.

Lotte (lot-a), a 2-year-old “dual-line” Labrador from Germany

Corsica Ferries travel with Fox Terrier France Menorca
Merlan, 9-year-old tricolor Fox Terrier from France 

dog on board Corsica Ferries
Anonymous: this beautiful Weimaraner was spotted in the lounge, sleeping beside its maître who himself forewent a cabin and opted to sleep rough. Ruff ruff! 

travel with dog Corsican Ferries Toulon Menorca
No grass to pee on in the dog park, which led to confusion for certain dogs. "There was a large crate with some rocks in it," one woman explained, but her dog (Sammy, pictured below) held it until they reached the shore.

Here is dear Sammy who really needed to tinkle as he waited patiently to "debark" at the port in Toulon. Sammy's mother was found pregnant and abandoned until this lady's mom found her. The mom kept the mother dog and the daughter took Sammy. Another sister took one of Sammy's siblings. What a happy ending!

Griffon dog on Corsica Ferries Toulon to Menorca
Jack, 9-year-old wirehaired Griffon from Nimes. He was adopted after braving the SPA, or animal shelter, for 3 full years. He lost all his hair but it has grown back and he is absolutely dashing! 

What I thought would be a boring wait on our delayed ship turned into a chance to spend time with a number of soft, affectionate, and intelligent dogs. After losing my own last summer, dearest Smokey, this was the chance to make up for so many dogless months. It was also an opportunity to discover other breeds and crossbreeds and to begin to dream about our next fidèle companion (hint: I would like a smaller dog, for ease of travel and handling, but I'll take whatever chance or destiny brings my way).

If this particular ferry ride wasn't already a dog lover's dream, nothing could have prepared me for the surprise on our overnight trip home. As usual, hundreds of passengers boarded the ship along with their dogs. I now had a second chance to take more pictures and chat with the pet owners and this was bliss. But that night, everything culminated into one giant dog extravaganza!

It all happened so unexpectedly when Jean-Marc and I sat down for dinner in the ship's dining room. We were seated right next to the revolving kitchen door and after it slammed one too many times my husband asked if we could be moved. "I'm sorry, sir, but the only other table available is next to a dog."

A dog? "That's no problem!" I informed the waiter. We grabbed our drinks, got up, and walked to the other side of the dining room where, low and behold, there wasn't just one dog... This was the designated section for dog owners

In case I never have the privilege to dine among a pack of dogs ever again, Jean-Marc captured the ecstatic moment on film. I leave you with that clip (also viewable here). Tell me, how many chiens can you see? (Note: one or two are hiding beneath the ship's starched tablecloths). 

P.S. Thank you for sharing this post with a dog lover. More dog photos below...

I would love it if you would share your experiences traveling with dogs. Do you have tips? Any unusual stories? Have you taken the bus or a boat or flown with your dog? Tell me about it here in the comments.


Don't miss the vocabulary sound file--click here

le chien = dog
le toutou = doggy 
merde! = sh#!, crap!
la cabine
= room on a boat
la sieste
= nap
le navire
= ship, ferry, car ferry
la SPA = animal refuge, shelter

Rocky  labradoodle from Germany
We sat beside 8-year-old Rocky, a labradoodle, and his family from Germany. They had taken their motorhome from there to Toulon, and cruised over to Minorca. Rocky loves to travel on land and at sea, and he's a real teddy bear isn't he?

Vizsla dog in the sun
I'm not sure what kind of dog this is on the sundeck (a Vizsla hunting dog, like another one I saw earlier?), but I was anxious to know how he would step off that net when he woke up...). I love how he or she is just chillin' with the owner. 

Kristi sailing with dogs
Me, enjoying some dog time with 2-year-old Anton, a Bearded Collie, and 8 -year-old Scooby, a Jack Russell.

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This is so adorable! So many fluffy friends :-) and a good reminder that delays are always a graceful surprise if we are open to what life wants us to experience!

Diane Van Gorden

I enjoyed today's post very much. One of my favorite activities as a teacher-librarian has been to discuss fake websites with students and have them decide if an example is fake or real & why. Bring Fido (https://www.bringfido.com/) always stumps the kiddos from my farming/ranching community. They don't believe anyone would ever go on a vacation with their dogs!


Our dear Kristi,
Your posts are always wonderful, but today's absolutely reached out and wrapped itself around my heart!
You are such a gifted writer--woman!--my gosh(!) not only reaching out to your fortunate readers but also to those of us graced to have you as our friend!
Merci , ma chere, MERCI!!
Blessing always to you and your family

Karen in NY

What a delightful trip. What well behaved puppers! It reminded me of helping my sister move across the US. My job was to pick up Peanut the beagle, shipped from San Fran to Newark airport. I don't know if it's typical of beagles but Peanut didn't always bark, she bayed. Really, really loud. I guess she heard my voice at the airport. They had no trouble finding her crate and showed us to the exit with unnecessary eagerness. We had to snuggle in the car for a while before the long drive home. For what it's worth, once home, she felt obliged to let the neighborhood know at the top of her lungs whenever she spotted a squirrel. An important event in beagle world. I'm so glad my neighbors have a sense of humor.

Jan in Atlanta

Thank you so much for this heartwarming post and your wonderful example of how to make lemonade from a lemon. I loved all the pictures of the pups. I don't have any stories about traveling with dogs (I have a cat) but I had to tell you thanks for making me smile!


Kristi, thank you so much for sharing this sweet story and all the wonderful pics with us! I lost my Sammy, a black lab mix, in 2013 and we went 7 years without a dog. As a result I met a lot of my neighbors walking around our neighborhood with their dogs. Often I could not remember my neighbor's name but I always remembered their dog's name! I know exactly that feeling you had when you saw all the dogs on the boat and wanted to pet them. We finally got another dog in 2020 from a local rescue group and he's a chocolate lab mix. Neko is such a sweet boy and loves belly rubs. He was absolutely worth the wait. Our family loves him so much. God has truly blessed us!


I think I would take this ferry just so I could be with all of these dogs! So many big dogs--no wire haired dachshunds? We do not travel w/ our dog/s. One day we will come to France for 3 months & bring Cognac ( our pup)! Thanks for all of the photos and video!

Kristin Espinasse

Gwen, So happy for you that Neko came into your life all those years later. 💕 Please give him some belly rubs from me. 

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

This post was doubly wonderful. Traveling by boat with all the pups reminded me of my childhood. We moved to Germany with one dog and came back with two. A few years later we took them both to France on a navy ship that had kennels. Each family had to feed and clean up after their dogs during the crossing. Then, after I married, we moved back and forth to Germany twice and took our (different) dogs both times. The pups always provided us with love and stability as we moved from place to place.

And Natalia. What a delight to learn about who she is. I have always been extremely touched by her comments; kind, gentle, positive and full of grace. I think we are very close in age. It is so very easy to relate to her.

Thank you, Natalia, for your beautiful thoughts and words and for sharing yourself with us!

Chris Allin

And thank you, Lynn McBride, for bringing Natalia’s story to us!

Suzanne Dunaway

LOVE THIS POST! LOVE BULL TERRIERS and we went on Grimaldi Lines for years from Barcelona to Rome but now the ships are not good at all and there are terrible reviews so maybe we can switch to this line. I miss our sea adventures. LOVE THE DOGGIES1


Hurray for dogs! Such fun...

Keith Perry

This entry was a reminder of a previous piece you wrote about walking the dog and taming impatience by likening the long pauses and sniffs to wine appreciation and wine aromas. Thought to share a cartoon about parallel human and dog thoughts......

Judy Feldman

Kristi, I love this blog! I never took a ferry ride with either of our dogs, but I can totally relate to the joy of being around these fun, furry creatures. We’re still contemplating getting another dog, but in the meantime, we so enjoy being with our friends and family’s pets. And, painting dogs is always wonderful!


Individuals love canines. You can never turn out badly adding a canine to the story.

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