Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Taking Poochie or Tiddles on holiday to France has got a whole lot easier

DEFRA logo
Last year the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (or DEFRA for short) announced a simplification to the Pet Travel Scheme that now means that it's now even easier to take your Pet Dog, Cat or Ferret to/from the continent.

The revised rules that came into effect on 1st January are laid out on the "what Pet owners need to do" page of the DEFRA website, but boil down to:
  1. Ensure that your pet is uniquely identifiable either by microchip or tatoo. This is a a fairly cheap process that most vets can carry out, or if your pet came from an animal rescue centre they they are quite likely to already have been microchipped.
    The nightmare scenario is if the microchip fails because you then face the whole quarantine process on your return, so worth getting your vet to verify that the microchip is still working before you leave the UK.

  2. Vaccinate your pet against rabies at least 21 days before the date you are due to return to the UK.
    Prior to 2012 there used to be a requirement to wait 6 months after vaccination and then have a blood test to verify that the rabies vaccination had worked. This requirement has now been abolished as long as the vaccination is at least 21 days prior to entry to the UK.

  3. Collect ther pet passport which your vet will issue. This records details of the unique identification number (microchip or tattoo), Rabies inoculation and bi-annual booster dates, tapeworm treatment, etc.
    Our dog's pet passport even has space for a photo of him but we've not been able to get him to sit still for long enough in the photo booth !

  4. Tapeworm treatment for dogs is required to have been completed before you return back to the UK, and this must be between 1 and 5 days before your UK arrival time.
    So if you're going for a short trip you could have the treatment done in the UK before you depart, but for most people this will mean a trip to an overseas vet before you come back home.
    For pet guests to our Brittany Gite we provide details and directions to a local vet in Loudeac that we use, its about €20 for the consultation and tablet which you can administer yourself.
    This is another area where the rules have changed in 2012; the treatment can now be up to 5 days before travel (it used to be 24-48 hours beforehand) and tick treatment is now no longer mandatory, although is recommended.

  5. Finally ensure you are travelling with an approved transport company on an authorised route - all the ferry routes from France are, but only the more major airlines that fly into large airports like Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, etc - so if you are using a budget airline best to check beforehand.
And that's it.

We're very happy to take pets at our quiet holiday Gite and the garden is safe and secure and fully fenced in. Our only request is keep the pets off the furniture and ensure that the garden is cleaned up afterwards.

We usually have about one Dog visiting the Gite each year. It's too early to tell if the relaxed DEFRA travel rules will mean that we get more pet guests; but do drop us a line if you'd like to come and stay.


Monday, January 02, 2012

New Year Guests and the house threw us a Christmas electrical present we didn't want

Downstairs lounge with the offending faulty light
In between Christmas and New Year (on bank holiday Tuesday 27th to be precise) we received a booking enquiry from a couple and their young son that wanted to take a New Year break in our holiday Gite from the Friday before New Year Eve through to Friday the following week.

Yes the Gite was available, yes our agents were available to do the cleaning and changeover to prepare the Gite beforehand, so we quickly arranged the rental and payment straight into our bank account, I sent the guests travel directions from Eurotunnel, and everything was booked.

The afternoon before our guests were due to arrive Shirley and Geoff (our agents) went over to the Gite to prepare it ready for their arrival and to put the heating on, but 5 minutes after they'd arrived the lights in the lounge and the kitchen "blew" out and the bulb in one of the lounge lights actually started to burn! Geoff replaced the bulbs and fuse (twice) but to no avail, no lights in the kitchen or lounge.

Unfortunately the downstairs lights are also on the same circuit as the central heating boiler, so no heating or hot water either!

Shirley managed to get an electrician they know, Russell, to meet them at the house the next morning to try to diagnose and fix the problem, and other than leaving a note for the incoming guests in case they arrive early, there wasn't much else that could be done.

Next morning I kept nervously phoning Geoff and Shirley to find out what the news was, and fortunately by lunchtime Russell had found that there was a wiring fault in one of the two metal lights in the lounge that was causing the short-circuit. He removed the light and problem solved, lighting and heating restored again.


What caused the problem I have absolutely no idea. These lights (which you can see in the photo above) were in the Gite when we moved in but several years ago I had replaced the wiring in them with brand new 2-core lighting cable because I didn't feel that the previous "bell wiring" that the French owners had used was really up to the job! So why this went wrong and what caused it to suddenly fail I don't know but a big thank you is definitely due to Shirley, Geoff and Russell for sorting out the problem and doing it quickly before the guests arrived.

For those with longer memories of the Blog will remember that this story has a very familiar echo to a posting I made at Christmas 2008 when the main EDF circuit breaker failed and we had no electricity in the Gite at all, resulting in me having to try to telephone and explain to EDF (in French) that I needed them to come and fix the problem on Christmas Eve.

These things are sent to try us I suppose !