In spring 2010, we realized that the World Dog Show 2011 was going to be held in Paris, France – one of the breed’s origins and we were excited! The planning began and we quickly found out that there were many interested who wanted to come along. To arrange as many flights, hotel rooms, etc. was very complicated so a travel agency was hired to work it out in the best way. Months went by and finally it was time to go. There was much that had to be done before leaving for Paris. To make sure the dogs would be in the best possible condition, they were bathed on Thursday before the show, and again on Saturday. It was 22 people and five bichons who travelled from Sweden and the first group left Saturday morning and the second group Saturday afternoon. We went with two flights because we wanted to have the dogs inside the cabin! The flight to Paris went well and when we got our luggage there was a chauffeur with a sign “Hardy-Flap’s kennel” so we just had to follow him! Our shuttle took us to the hotel, about 45 minutes’ journey towards Paris. The hotel was located in the center, not far from the Bastille. When we had met and hugged our other friends who had left with the earlier flight, it was time for the last dogs to be bathed and prepared for the next day. The ones that didn’t have to do any dogs had an enjoyable evening at the restaurant outside the hotel.
On Sunday morning we woke up early, at 4 o’clock, and it was time to prepare the dogs for the show. The staff at the hotel was phenomenal because even though breakfast was not served until 7 o’clock we all had time to eat a great breakfast with a wonderful fresh fruit salad, French cheeses, etc., before it was time for us to leave. At 5:45 the bus was waiting outside the hotel and believe it or not but everyone was in time for departure! In the windshield there was a sign indicating that the bus was reserved to Hardy-Flap’s kennel, we thought it was pretty cool! The large crowd which now consisted of about 30 people went on the bus and left for the exhibition. Our gang had been expanded and now included friends from Finland, Switzerland and France! Once at the exhibition, we took out all the dogs and the trolley which was good to have, of course, decorated with Swedish flags. The walk to the exhibition centre was anything but pleasant, it was dog poop everywhere and it was important to check where to put down the feet. At the inlet one got a bracelet that made it possible to move freely within the area and then it was time to find the ring where bichons would be judged. Around the ring there were lots of chairs , which was perfect since everyone in our group got a chair to sit on! 91 bichons were entered for the Bulgarian judge. The judging began, and the system was more or less impossible to understand. Everything was in French and very few knew English. To be sure, I went to the Show Secretary to ensure that our breeders and Brace groups were entered, since they weren’t included in the catalogue. A friendly French lady helped me out and we also got a confirmation to show in the final ring, it was good service! When it was time for the judging it all went very well and all our dogs receive excellent in their classes. Manolito was entered in open class, and he got excellent and was 4th in his class of around 15 dogs. Max was 3rd in champion class were 12 dogs were entered. Alice was not placed in junior class, but she bevaved very well at her second exhibition (!!). Cherie also got a 4th place in open class. Last in our gang was Berit, as usual, she was in an excellent mood. Almost 12 years old, she charmed both the judge and the audience showing at her very best. The crowd cheered when she was awarded the Veteran World Winner title for the fourth time in a row. Happily she moved out of the ring. Later it was time for Berit to compete for best veteran. A Norwegian male, living in Spain, had become best male veteran. The veterans came in, Berit stood like a statue, and she moved like a dream and really enjoyed to be in the ring. After the final evaluation Berit was awarded the rosette for best veteran. This is the third time in a row at a World dog show! There was a lot of happy faces around and Berit received a lot of congratulaions. It was so fantastic, that our little Berit again had won and this at her 99th (!) time in the veteran class.
Before the finals, it was time to deworm the dogs and we went to the vet and started queuing …. Time passed and the queue went very, very slowly. The ‘smart’ organization had planned for lunch at the time when most people needed help with the documents …. It would have been better to haven additional staff at this time! We queued for nearly two hours … And suddenly there was a familiar face who came to say hi and then I found out that they had already called for the veterans – the finals had begun! This was a couple of hours earlier than what was stated in the catalogue. … Well, the French and their organization left much to be desired! Well, quick as hell, I ran away with Berit through a neverending hall. Once there, Berit came up out of the bag, and into the ring, the veterans were on their way into the final ring. Just before we entered the ring, she was ready to go. We came in and showed in the spotlights and Berit did a very good performance, but it was not enough for a placement at this time. Out in the preview ring, the others had arrived for Brace and breeders group. The only one that got to see the vet at this point was Alice. Both Brace and breeders behaved very well, but was not placed. When we were ready we went to a restaurant and rested while waiting for the bus that would take us back to the hotel. Now we had time to take the other dogs to the vet. The vet had written a note, so we could go infront of the long winding queue and get the dogs examined. We also did a lot of shopping and, among other things, we bought a new dryer! Our French friends helped us to call the bus driver, so he came and picked us up earlier than decided. It was great to have friends who knew the language! We are very grateful to Cindy Erb and her family for all the help we received during our visit in Paris!
The evening ended with a shower, walk with the dogs and pizza and French cheeses in the hotel’s garden under a slightly cloudy sky. On Monday it was time for sightseeing by bus in Paris. At 10 o’clock we gathered and then our guide was there, great Carina! Since we had friends from France, Switzerland and Finland, we asked to have the information in both Swedish and English. Paris is a great city. Ten million people, eight mayors, beautiful old buildings and beautiful limestone houses. The guide informed us that it was Napoleon III, who had renovated the Paris, took water into the houses and made sure that the buildings and facades became modern by the standards of that time. The beautifully decorated stone houses was really impressive to see! Our sightseeing tour took us around to all the famous places in Paris and Carina spoke engaging and interesting about all that we saw. Outside Les Invalides, which was actually a military hospital for more than 8,000 soldiers but is now a museum, we took a break. Straight ahead was the Parthenon, the great Napoleon’s final resting place. The top of the dome was decorated with gold worth 10 million! Beautiful was just the beginning. The dogs and the two-legged loved to take a walk and a lot of photos were taken. We continued and soon we were at the Trocadero, where there was a short photo break. Berit who had taken the grand slam again was photographed with the Eiffel Tower in the background. You can believe she appreciated the attention, there were more tourists photographing Berit than the surroundings. At the Champs de Elysse we didn’t visit the stores where Louis Vitton et al. housed. I believe it was the best for our wallets… Eventually we reached the Place de la Concorde where the guillotine was used extensively during the French Revolution. 1300 people lost their heads at the square, among them Queen Marie Antoinette. Interestingly, but less pleasant information was that all the condemned was forced to shave off their hair and the reason for this was that the blade was dull and otherwise it was a risk that it would not go through … Ouch, ouch, I say ..
Our tour ended at the river Seine where most went off to explore Paris by foot, some stayed, however, on the bus and were driven back to the hotel. Those of us who jumped off the bus, searched us into the crowd and soon we found a restaurant where we took the opportunity to have lunch, then we split up and discovered different parts of Paris! My gang had time for some more sightseeing and then we sought the shade of the old Louvre gardens, beautiful and very nice. There was wine or ice cream, how about the famous ice creams Quasimodo, Esmeralda and coupe the cardinals? Yum, I say! It was very warm, but the park was nice and we enjoyed the beautiful plants, flowers, fountains and manicured lawns. After purchasing the carnet, the ticket for the metro, we went back to our hotel again. In the evening we had scheduled a four-course dinner for the whole group, ie, both two-and four-legged.
The restaurant was a few minutes walk from the hotel and we came in VERY good time! We are true Swedes … ha-ha! At first we wondered a bit about the restaurant and if they really understood what we meant, and had realized that we had ordered and paid for everything in advance. … BUT we got it all sorted out and it was an interesting conversation that went from Swedish to English to German to French! Pooh! But we had a fantastic night with puppy buyers and friends and the food was very good. The evening ended with a walk back to the hotel and then many of us who sat in the hotel garden and had a good time for quite a while.
Tuesday we went to Montmartre and enjoyed the view of Sacre Coeur. Unfortunately it was rainy and foggy so we did not see as far as we wanted, but it was beautiful anyway. We looked around in Montmartre and admired the various artists’ works which were on display around the square and on the walls.
Getting there, however, was anything but easy. When we got out of the metro it was raining and we heard thunder. We were lucky to buy some umbrellas and the dogs were put in the trolley so they didn’t get wet. The walk started up, and there were a lot of stairs … with the dogs in bags we carried the trolley up. After quite some time we finally got up and it was worth it. Incredibly beautiful with a view over Paris. We had lunch at a restaurant on the square with all the artists around us, fantastic. Rickard who ordered a beer, noticed that it costs, nearly 20 Euro for a beer. But he enjoyed it! After lunch the rain stopped and we got sun again. The way down was easier because then we went on a miniature train down the old hills with their picturesque neighborhoods. The headphones played Edit Piaf and anecdotes were told about the different locations. On a slope, there was a vineyard, and a cafe that Renoir and others frequently visited. Finally we reached Place de Pigalle, where we took the metro to the more central parts of Paris. The dogs walked both here and there and in the more famous streets, St. Dennis, Rue Saint Martin, the Champs de Elyssa. At the great Cathedral, Notre Dame, we took turns to look after the dogs. Notre Dame was incredibly beautiful and powerful. Like in Victor Hugo’s famous work The Hunchback of Notre Dame we could almost see a glimpse of Quasimodo and the Cardinal in the shadows. The huge church windows were bursting with beautiful biblical motifs and colors. When we came out and went to the others, we saw more familiar faces. Satu from Finland came with her friends and their dogs, sometimes it’s a small world. It was nice to meet borh two and four-legged. When we went back to the hotel we had to take turns to carry the trolley since there were a lot of stairs in the metro and some stations were HUGE!
We had a little mishap in the metro …. It was lots of people and not easy to get around with a trolley at all times and on one occasion when Carin was getting out of the tramp she put her foot between TRAIN and METRO STATION! Yack! The shoe (or rather, a very beautiful purple slipper with a Swedish flag …) fell down on the track and we had no possibility to get it. So Carin had to walk barefoot with one foot and the trolley for a while until we found a store and Carin could buy a pair of indoor slippers! But it all went well and then we were fit-for-fight again! We probably had no quiet or dull moment on our journey …
Wednesday and the group was divided. Some went to Euro Disney, some went to the Palace of Versailles and the rest of us took a boat trip on the Seine River. It was very beautiful and impressive to see the sights from the River. One of the romantic elements was that one of the bridges over the river was full of padlocks. Lovers went there, put a padlock there and threw the key in the Seine River to show there eternal love for each other. The locks glistened in the sunlight as the boat glided under the bridge. The evening ended at the same restaurant that we went to on Monday. Good service and food from the French cuisine was really something special. Thursday was the day when we would go home. The first group went soon after lunch, but for us it was time to visit the few stores that were open. Although it was France’s national day, it was very quiet in the areas we walked in. It was fun to watch television reports from the Champs de Elysse, where the French army showed themselves with President Sarkozy in the lead. The aircrafts that were involved in the show flew right over our hotel at low altitude. Lunch was served at a French brasserie with the dogs at the side of the table and they threw glances at the delightful dishes that were served. As usual, the mood was at its peak and it was kept at that level for the way home. After almost a week in France, it was nice to set foot on Swedish soil again and come home to a few days holiday. France and Paris was at its best, and although there was much that could be done differently, one must still say, we had incredible luck with everything. People were always helpful, talking to us both in English and French. At one place we met a French woman who spoke Swedish with a slight accent and she was so happy to be able to speak Swedish to someone in Paris. Paris is certainly worth a visit, and probably there will be more trips to this beautiful and in many ways fascinating city. If it will be to a dog show, may time will tell, there is more to ask for in terms of organization, structure and quality.
Many thanks to all those who made this trip so amazing! All our puppy buyers and friends from Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and France, who went on the tour!