Lynn Branecky, 44, sculptor and advertising creative director; Julian Pugsley, 44, film director; and Otto the miniature schnauzer, 6
Duration: 3 Weeks
“My husband and I travel with our dog whenever possible. Otto is known as ‘Ocho’ in Mexico, has a taste for French food, and was once taken off a plane during a delay for a walk on the runway by a Virgin pilot. Taking him with us makes travel so much more interesting, though sometimes we’ll split up to watch him.”
Go here: Marseille, France
Why now: As a 2013 European Capital of Culture, France’s oldest and second-largest city—a Mediterranean port town that’s more informed by its North African immigrant history than it is by its Provençal countryside—is in the midst of transformation. Think cutting-edge architectural projects from the likes of Rudy Ricciotti and Philippe Starck and (good news for Otto) a food scene that extends well beyond bouillabaisse.
What to do: The forthcoming Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (Esplanade J4; mucem.org), a 430,556-square-foot, latticed-concrete cube designed by Ricciotti at water’s edge, is a must-see. While one half tours the space, the other can take Otto for a stroll along the nearby La Corniche, a boulevard lining the Mediterranean. Alternately, consider doggy day care Villa Jayne (villa.jayne.free.fr). And don’t miss the Calanques, a range of dramatic limestone cliffs and coves between Marseille and Cassis that, in April, were declared France’s newest national park—perfect for exploring by foot and paw or mountain bike.
Where to stay: Pet-friendly accommodations include Mama Shelter (from $90; mamashelter.com), which opened this spring in the hip Cours Julien area with 127 Starck-designed rooms and a popular restaurant from chef Alain Senderens; and the Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port (from $226; sofitel.com), updated with nautical décor and a swanky bar. The latter provides canine guests with a water bowl and, upon request, a special meal whipped up by its Les Trois Forts chef.
What to eat: For classic French food with a modern twist, such as pan-fried foie gras escalopes, head to Malthazar (19 Rue Fortia; 33-4-91-33-42-46), inspired—yes—by Keith McNally’s Soho brasserie. Dogs are welcome both here and at Le Grain de Sel (39 Rue de la Paix-Marcel-Paul; 33-4-9154-4730), which was tied for best bistro in France this year by Le Fooding and serves a daily changing menu of seasonal, Mediterranean-style dishes like squid à la plancha with a potato, chorizo, and chanterelle ragout.
Buy this: The city is famous for its olive- and vegetable-oil-based soaps, traditionally sold by the block. Using methods that date back more than 500 years, the Marseille-based Compagnie de Provence (compagniedeprovence.com)—which has two shops in town—makes liquid and solid varieties.
Also consider: Vail, Colorado’s year-old the Sebastian (from $389; thesebastianvail.com), a dog-friendly ski hotel that lavishes pets with a dog bed, bowl, food, and treats at check-in. They’ll also add Otto’s name to their “dog board,” which lists all the pups currently staying at the hotel.