France ~ Dordogne & Gironde
6 nights with 4 or 5 days riding from village to village, staying in good quality local hotels,
These rides explore the Gironde, Lot and Dordogne valleys in south west France, an area boasting some 1200 Chateaux that is 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.
There are several different itineraries on offer. The Fortresses & Forests of Dordogne, The Vineyards of Bordeaux and The Caves & Castles in Malbec 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. On the Prestige Dordogne itinerary, by spending 2 consecutive nights at each of 3 luxurious hotels, you make the most of the area's unique chateau hospitality, whilst still riding a place-to-place route.
Riding hours and pace are fairly relaxed on all set itineraries and classic French food, wine tastings and visits to local historic chateaux, castles and other sites, are part of the overall 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 owned by your French guide, Michel, and are well schooled, good-natured and sensible but forward going and responsive to ride. Saddles are either English or 'Maclellan' style (a comfortable cross between an English and western saddle), with a few westerns available for those who wish. Most of the horses are ridden western style; they are used to neck reining and a light contact with the mouth. The horses are tacked up / prepared for rides by Michel and saddle bags are provided where necessary. Rides are normally limited to a maximum of 6 guests and are lead by Michel personally. He is an experienced, very knowledgeable guide, who speaks fluent English and has a real interest in the local history, culture, food and wine.
Hours: Itineraries include riding on 4 or 5 days - varies - and usually between 4 and 6 hours a day (varies with itinerary) broken up with rests for lunch and sightseeing. The Caves & Castles in Malbec & The Bordeaux rides include the most riding.
Pace and experience required: To join one of these rides you should have a reasonable amount of previous riding experience and be secure and comfortable on a well-schooled horse riding with a group at a walk, trot and canter over varied terrain. The riding pace is relaxed - fairly slow to moderate overall (The Bordeaux Ride includes the most chances to canter) so these are ideal choices for riders of an intermediate standard or above. Riding hours on the itineraries that are based from one hotel - The Moulin de Labique and Chateau de Rouffiac Rides - can be tailored to suit so novice riders and those with more limited riding experience, can join these programmes. 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; most are small, all are individual and they are chosen (as far as possible) for their charm, local character and / or food. 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 the main base on some rides, have just 7 and 4 bedrooms respectively (all with own 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;
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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).