France ~ Dordogne & Gironde
These rides explore the Gironde, Lot and Dordogne valleys in south west France, an area boasting some 1200 Chateaux and steeped with Anglo French history dating back to the Hugenot era. Beautiful oak forests, river valleys and rolling hills make it a wonderful area to explore by horse and the region’s superb cuisine and its renowned Cahors and Bordeaux wines, all add to its attraction. The Fortresses & Forests of Dordogne, Beaches & Vineyards of Bordeaux and Caves & Castles in Malbec ride itineraries follow routes from village to village, whilst the Moulin de Labique & Chateau de Rouffiac Rides are centred at one hotel, with rides out from the base. The Prestige Dordogne itinerary is semi-progressive, spending 2 nights at each of 3 luxurious hotels.
All rides are fairly relaxed in riding hours and pace. The Caves & Castles in Malbec and Beaches & Vineyards of Bordeaux rides include the most riding, with the latter offering the most chances to trot & canter. All include delicious classic French food & wine with wine tastings and visits to local historic chateau, castles and other sights, all part of the experience.
Riding: 4-6 hours a day on 4 or 5 days (varies with itinerary).
Horses: locally bred French saddle horses.
Pace: slow to moderate (moderate on Bordeaux ride).
Riding ability: confident novice riders and above (varies with itinerary).
Weight limit: 86kg (13st 7lbs).
Accommodation: 3* & 4* hotels, chateau hotels & chambres d'hotes (varies with itinerary).
Group size: max 6.
Season: April to November.
Horses: The horses used are mostly locally bred French saddle horses of between 14.2hh and 15.2hh. They are well schooled, good-natured and a sensible but forward going and responsive ride. Saddles are either English, 'Maclellans' (which are a comfortable cross between an English and western saddle), with western style also available for those who wish. Most of the horses are ridden western style and are used to neck reining and to a light contact with the mouth. Saddle bags are provided when necessary. The horses are tacked up / prepared for you by your guide, Michel. Rides are normally limited to a maximum of 6 guests and are lead by Michel who is French and owns the horses. He is an experienced, knowledgeable guide, who speaks fluent English and has a real interest in local history, culture, food and wine.
Hours: Itineraries include riding on 4 or 5 days and there is usually between 4 and 6 hours riding a day (varies with itinerary) broken up with rests for lunch and sightseeing. The Caves & Castles in Malbec & Bordeaux rides include the most riding.
Pace and experience required: To join these rides you should have a reasonable amount of previous riding experience and be secure and comfortable on a well-schooled horse at a walk, trot and canter over varied terrain. The riding pace is relaxed, fairly slow to moderate overall (the Bordeaux ride offering the most chances to canter) so they are ideal for intermediate riders. Riding hours on Moulin de Labique and Chateau de Rouffiac rides, which are based from one hotel, can be tailored to suit so these programmes can suit more novice riders. The rider weight limit is 86kgs (13 stone 7lbs).
Accommodation is in a variety of good quality 3* and 4* hotels and chambres d'hotes. Hotels are typical of the region, comfortable, chosen for their charm and local character and all rooms have their own bathroom. Many of the hotels have an excellent restaurant and several have a swimming pool. Moulin de Labique and Chateau de Rouffiac, which are used as bases for some rides, have just 7 and 4 bedrooms respectively, all with individual bathroom, and there is a swimming pool at both. Rates assume accommodation in twin rooms but single rooms are available at a supplement.
Fortresses & Forests of the Dordogne (6 nights) - Euros 2775;
Beaches & Vineyards of Bordeaux
Itinerary in brief - Fortresses & Forests of Dordogne Ride. Please ask for other itineraries
|Day 1||You will be met at Bergerac railway station or airport and driven to a country hotel for dinner and the night.|
||After breakfast meet the horses and set off riding to Chateau de Biron. Lunch, then ride on to the lovely, well preserved bastide town of Monpazier, founded in 1284 and famous for its architecture. Dinner and overnight in Monpazier.|
||Today's ride takes you to Montferrand-du-Perigord on the Couze river. A picnic lunch and continue to your hotel just outside UNESCO listed Cadouin. An optional visit to the village and its beautiful abbey before dinner and the night.|
||Breakfast and rejoin the horses, riding through the Bessede forest to another unique bastide - Belves. Lunch followed by an afternoon drive to the 'Gouffre de Proumeyssac' caves, known as the 'Crystal Cathedral'. Return to Belves for dinner and night.|
||Ride on through chestnut woods, stopping for lunch at a local duck farm. In the afternoon ride to Villefranche du Perigord, another wonderful bastide. Dinner and night in Villefranche du Perigord.|
||A short drive to rejoin the horses then ride to Chateau de Bonaguil, an imposing medieval fortress built on a rock face. After lunch and a tour of the chateau, ride on crossing the Lot River. Dinner and final last night at a charming country hotel.|
||Breakfast, then you will be driven to Bergerac for your onward journey.|
|Contact us at email@example.com or on tel (+44) (0)1837-82544 / 825440 for further information, detailed itineraries, dates and answers to questions.|
Bergerac is the meeting place for the Fortresses & Forests of Dordogne, Castles & Caves in Malbec, Moulin de Labique and Chateau de Rouffiac programmes; Departure is also from Bergerac except on the Castles & Caves in Malbec ride where it may be either Cahor station or Bergerac.
Bordeaux is the meeting and departure point for the Beaches & Vineyards of Bordeaux Ride.
For the Prestige Dordogne Ride, the meeting and departure point is Brive la Gaillarde train station or airport.
The nearest International airports are Bergerac, Bordeaux and Toulouse. There are also good train services to Bordeaux and Bergerac from Paris.
There are flights from several regional UK airports to Bergerac with low cost airlines and direct flights from London to Bordeaux / Toulouse - budget around £200 economy return (varies with the airline and season).