Many people visiting Paris for the first time wonder whether you're allowed to bring dogs or other pets along for the ride in public transportation, including in metro trains, buses, and trams. Some tourists do opt to bring their pets overseas for longer stays, so this is likely to be an important question for them. Here's what to keep in mind.
The Rules, in a Nutshell
In theory, only very small dogs transported in baskets or bags can legally be brought onto the Paris metro, and only under the condition that the dog will neither "inconvenience" nor "soil" other passengers. The language is fuzzy, but it's probably wise to assume it means "ensure they don't slobber on fellow passengers, or behave aggressively toward them". The same is true for Parisian buses and tramways, by the way.
Furthermore, seeing-eye dogs and dogs specially trained to aid disabled travelers are allowed in public transportation irrespective of size, provided the traveler carries official identification for the dog proving his or her special status. If you have a disability or limited mobility, you can bring your dog with you provided you remember to bring your documentation with you.
The RER (Commuter-Line Trains) Have Different Rules
One exception to these simple rules does exist: on the Paris RER (suburban train network), you may bring larger dogs onto trains as long as they are leashed and muzzled. This is largely due to the fact that the commuter trains are, on average, more spacious. Bringing larger pets onto these trains is not perceived as an inconvenience in the same way. However, a rambunctious or aggressive dog, even if muzzled, will be seen as a nuisance or even a threat. Only bring your dog along if he or she is well-socialized and used to strangers and generally does not disturb others.
There's Theory... and Then There's Practice
Despite these well-defined rules, in practice, Paris metro agents tend to be somewhat lenient with owners who bring larger dogs onto the metro or other public transportation in Paris, provided the dog is on a leash and has a muzzle. I've often observed such dogs riding on trains, and as long as they're well-behaved and don't bother or frighten passengers, their presence isn't particularly bothersome.
This is admittedly all pretty arbitrary, however. You can be fined dozens of Euros for bringing a larger (especially unmuzzled) dog onto metro trains, and it's really up to the discretion of metro officials at the end of the day.
Your Safest Bet? Just Follow the Rules
At the end of the day, it's probably best to err on the side of caution and obey local laws, however ambiguous they can seem: only bring your dog along in public transportation if he or she is small enough to fit into a basket or a totebag. The same (rather hazy) rules apply on city buses and trams. Again, see above for a noteworthy exception relating to big dogs on RER commuter trains.
What About Cats and Other Small Animals?
Cats and other small pets (hampsters, rats, ferrets, etc) can also be taken on metro trains, buses, and tramway cars in Paris provided they are placed in bags, baskets, or small carrying cases. I recommend the last option to ensure they don't escape, bother or injure other passengers.
Feeling Lost? Get Acquainted With Parisian Culture Before Your Trip
Knowledge is empowering, so before you hop on the plane, learn a bit more about local Parisian culture and language.
- Our primers on basic French greetings and Paris restaurant vocabulary will help you to communicate in everyday situations and order from restaurants.
- Learn how to see beyond common French stereotypes and recognize the difference between rude Parisian behavior and simple cultural differences.