12 June 2014

Are dogs allowed on beaches in Argeles-Sur-Mer?

When we took our little dog, Baxter, down to the south of France for his first holiday abroad, we were surprised at how few beaches in the Argeles region allowed dogs on them.

Our little dog Baxter having fun on the Marenda beach

If you've never been to this part of France, you're missing out. Part of the Languedoc region, there are miles of beautiful, white, wide, wild beaches. The small towns that litter the beaches are less built up than, say, the south of Spain, and even the more commercial beaches such as Argeles Centre are still reasonably unspoilt. 

I guess they don't want dogs fouling on the beach and antisocial owners not keeping hold of their pets which can irritate other holiday makers. But it means dog owners are a bit restricted. 

There are six stretches of beach within Argeles. If you go further North from Argeles, you'll reach St Cyprien and further South, Collioure.

Racou beach, probably my favourite dog-friendly section

The six beaches in Argeles are called (from North to South) Plage de la Marenda, Plage du Tamariguer, Plage des Pins, Plage Centre, Plage Sud and Plage du Racou. In between Sud and Racou, you'll find the marina. All of these beaches have large, patrolled areas with toilets, lifeguards and swim-safe zones. However, none of them allow dogs!

To take you dog on the beach, you have to go to the sections which are not patrolled. This means that technically you are not supposed to swim in the water and there are no facilities such as toilets and showers. However, they are more remote, less spoilt and far less busy. 

The first dog-safe section is on the edge of the Racou beach, next to the Marina. You can park for free in a large, beach car park which sadly has no shade so the cars get pretty hot. The beach is beautiful, wide and very wild. We went on a Tuesday in June and it was very quiet and although it was hot, there was a lovely breeze. 

To the south, the long beach is cornered by hills topped with ancient watch towers and the buildings are barely visible behind the trees and not that commercial. Like all the beaches in Argeles, the sand isn't soft and fine, instead, it is slightly gritty and fairly white. 

There are toilets on the main beach and also bars and restaurants. The main beachside restaurant is Hotel L'Oasis which allows dogs on their outside area and serves a good selection of salads, sandwiches, cold drinks and ice creams. They stop serving food at 2 though, so don't get caught out!

Marenda beach. A bit more crowded, but still pretty remote

The second area that allows dogs is to the north of Plage de la Marenda. This is part of the Northern section of the Argeles beaches and is very beautiful. Behind the beach lies huge campsites which seem to be popular with Germans in particular. There are lovely views of the Pyrenees from the beach and the campsites are hidden by wild plant dunes of flowers and pine trees. It has a very remote and wild feel to it. The sand is white and again pretty gritty.
We went on a Wednesday in June and, although still quiet, was busier than the Racou. However, the beach is incredibly long and, if you are less lazy than us, I'm sure you'd leave the people behind if you were prepared to walk up the beach. 

Again, there is a free beach car park, with no shade. The walk is slightly longer than Racou to the beach, but probably only about 5 minutes. To the south of the unpatrolled area is the Coco Beach restaurant that does typical takeaway food. As it is on the Marenda beach, you can't take dogs there. 

I can see why the Argeles beaches are some of the most popular in France as they are very beautiful. And, if you are prepared to go to the more remote parts, you can experience a very wild beach experience which your four legged friend can enjoy too. 

The Argeles beach region with details of the different patrolled areas

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