Text by Rebecca Marshall
If the winner of this year’s Palm Dog – the award for the year’s best canine performance at the Cannes Film Festival – deigns to turn up, he or she will find no shortage of glamour. Cannes would surely rank high on any doggy quality of life index – 50 per cent of the hotels accept dogs (the figure in London is eight per cent), and there are no fewer than 11 dog pampering parlours here.
France is a nation of dog owners – there are more pets here than anywhere else in Europe, and owners spend €4.2 billion (NOK34.6bn) in total a year on their furry friends. In Cannes, that doesn’t just mean food – it means aromatherapy treatments, perfume spritzes, leopard-print panties and designer chihuahua pouches.
Perhaps the most luxurious dog spot is For VIP Dogs, a few steps from the InterContinental Carlton on the Croisette, Cannes’ famous seafront promenade. This high-end grooming parlour doubles as a boutique. One of the pink-painted walls is devoted exclusively to doggy clothes, with ballerina dresses jostling for space with shiny gold sequinned bomber jackets and fur coats; another is devoted to an astonishingly creative range of designer collars and leads in all colours. You will find no cheap imitations here – owner Fanny Lamarque buys only the very best accessories from Italian and French designers.
Among the items on sale are bottles of canine eau de parfum that go by the names “Angel” or “Bonbon”, and leopard-print crotchless underwear for terriers. Sunglasses are already on order for the summer season: “Down by the sea or on board their yachts, dogs’ eyes need protection too,” advises Lamarque. In summer, the shop has a lot of seasonal visitors, Russian clients being among the most extravagant. Some will spend up to €3,000 (NOK24,640) in a single shopping spree for a wardrobe of winter dog-wear they can’t buy at home. One of the best-selling items is a €371 (NOK3,050) pink and cream, fluffy Italian handbag designed to slip a chihuahua into.
Looks are not everything, though. For VIP Dogs will soon offer doggy aromatherapy, adding to the existing options for canine massage and homeopathy provided by another salon in Monaco, a few kilometres up the coast. Dogs here can already get a basic makeover worthy of a trip to the Palm Dog – a wash, cut and blow dry for a cocker spaniel will set the owner back €90 (NOK740), slightly more than the human hairdresser next door. At least the dog gets an anti-static, volumising shampoo and spritz of perfume included. “Sweet scents are the most popular,” says Lamarque, as she touches up the purple claw varnish on Queenie, a poodle on her monthly visit to the salon.
Perhaps predictably, the Croisette is also a prime dog-watching spot. We meet Monsieur Desroches Perreault, who is somewhat upstaged by Gouffy, a Cannes born-and-bred Chinese crested dog. “People stop to photograph Gouffy all the time,” he says. “She’s a natural-born star.”
If life in Cannes is pretty good for a dog, the departure to a better place (if that’s possible) is also well catered for. Animal Respect, in the hills above Cannes, is one of France’s very few pet crematoriums, and accepts everything from dogs to goldfish. Pre-ceremony, pets are brushed and prepared (deep freezing is de rigeur if the cremation occurs more than 48 hours after death), and a wide choice of exclusive designer urns are available. One customer from Monaco had their chauffeur drive the body of a recently deceased terrier in a stretch limousine to the crematorium, with strict instructions to burn him with the Louis Vuitton bag she had rushed out to buy that morning as a container for his corpse.
For those who can’t bear the idea of their pooch disappearing into an oven heated to 650oC, or simply prefer a resting place in the ground, the nearby seaside town of Cagnes-sur-Mer is home to one of France’s largest dedicated pet cemeteries, where on average one pet funeral is held every week.
On a quiet Thursday afternoon, one mourner, a women in her forties, is arranging flowers and lighting candles over the grave where her Westie, Cara, was buried (along with her blanket and favourite toys) last winter. “She was a daughter to me, we were never apart,” she says. “I even used to eat my meals at a low table on the floor so we could eat together. It is good to have somewhere I can still come to be with her.”
Cannes is 30 minutes’ drive from Nice; Norwegian flies to Nice from 10 destinations. Book flights, a hotel and a rental car at norwegian.com