It’s one of those French mysteries we may never unravel. I’ve read the books on how well-behaved their children are (it’s true). But did you know their dogs behave totally differently too?
I noticed it right away when we moved here. The dogs seem to have adopted the reserved personalities of their French owners. Photo, right: we often encounter this darling dog who lives on a yacht in the Cap Ferrat harbor. He is fiercely loyal to his owner but gives us the cold shoulder.
Now, I’m a huge animal lover, and when I see a dog in the US, I’m in the habit of going right over and petting it and talking to it, and perhaps complimenting the owner on their cute dog. Who will then normally want to talk dogs with you, all day if you let them.
I quickly learned that in France, touching someone’s dog is unacceptable behavior (though I admit I often do it anyway). First of all, the owner likely will not appreciate it; they will give you a stiff smile, if they give you one at all, and pull the dog quickly away. Clearly you have invaded their space.
But here is the weird thing. The DOG will not be friendly either! I’d say 90% of the time, the dog will either back away, or else be completely disinterested in the attention. Unlike an American dog, who will bound over, wag his tail, maybe even jump up on you. I can’t even imagine that you could beat this sort of behavior out of dogs, who seem naturally sociable. So how do they do it?
Dear Readers, I’m hoping you’ve got some answers for me, because I’m baffled. Though I did closely observe Nicole and Pierre’s grand-daughter, who was at the château recently for a visit with her new lab puppy. We were inside, but she kept that pup on a short leash, figuratively. She talked to him sternly if he approached anyone or jumped around, and she was cautious in allowing anyone to pet him. “He’s still in training,” she explained. Photo left: The French do seem to adore their dogs. This sweet lab, left, seems spoiled enough, on his fur rug.
I guess the French have just got this discipline thing down pat. If anyone has similar experiences, or better yet, some answers, please leave a comment—and you probably should write a book!
Photo, right: No this is not a dog, but it’s a French cat who thinks he is. This is our own resident rodent, Domino, who is not actually barking (he would if he could), but yawning. He follows us around like a loyal canine, and attacks any dog who irritates him, no matter what size.
My apologies to anyone who couldn't get on the blog last week. My server, Typepad, experienced an attack by cyber criminals who demanded a ransom. Yikes!
In the COMMENTS: Maria asks about houses for rent on the Riviera, so I thought I'd share my ideas with all. Shelly Dobyns is an American living in Villefranche-sur-Mer (a village across from Cap Ferrat which is equally charming), and she's personally renovated and decorated several properties which I can highly recommend, for both their charm and value. See them at Riviera Experience. In addition, Bruno Defforge (married to our author below) has a turn-key vacation rental property service called France Finesse, for Nice and the surrounding area.
Merci to Suzanne, Colleen, and Christine for more good ideas on what to do with the Mediterranean Mix-up. Jan, sounds like a fabulous trip. Liza, that truly would be amazing!
Favorite Reads: We've told you before about Kim Defforge's book, Solitary Desire: One Woman's Journey to France about her experience as a lifelong Francophile who moves to the Riviera with her French husband, Bruno (see above). I had the chance to meet them in Nice this trip. And speaking of traveling to Nice, Kim has written two travel books, if you go: Sun, Sea & Savoir-Faire: Travel Focus on the French Riviera, and her brand new book, KIDS RIVIERA .