This based ride is perfect for all riders; it is an ideal family destination with a flexible riding programme, mile upon mile of golden sand and vast forests with inviting shaded sandy tracks. The riding is completely flexible and comes either a 6 or 8 session card giving you the choice of when you would like to ride, how long you'd like to ride for and what you would like to do; perfect for those who don't want a set routine and would like to explore the area when not riding. Riders can choose to ride on the beach, through the forests or have flatwork or jumping lessons.
You are free to enjoy the beach and the many other activities available in and around this lively coastal town - the town is famous for its watersports but there is so much more such as traditional food markets, preserved wetlands and plenty of restaurants and cafes for relaxing. Accommodation is in either a guest house at the stables (a short drive from the beach and town) or a local 2* hotel close to the beach (a short drive from the stables).

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from CL of Saltsjöbaden on 08/07/2016

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
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Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
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Meals
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Riding and Horses
This 'a la Carte' horse riding holiday will suit families or groups with varying levels of interest in riding. For those who want to ride there is the option to buy a card valid for 6 or 8 sessions of riding with each session lasting for 2 hours. For intermediate and advanced riders it is also possible to exchange sessions for a half-day ride of 4 hours (2 sessions of 2 hours) or a full-day ride (3 sessions of 2 hours). More sessions can be purchased on-site.

There are 25 horses of all types available at the riding centre. The majority of horses are Anglo-Arabs although there are also Thoroughbred cross, Quarter horse, Lusitano and Standardbred. There are also 12 ponies available for children. The flexibility of this holiday means that those who want to ride can do so to their heart's content on the beach and in the forests, leaving the rest of the family to enjoy the many other activities available in this area: cycling on miles of cycle paths, tennis, water sports such as surfing, catamarans, canoes, swimming and walking on the beach, golf and many more.

Usually there's no riding on Sundays.

Accommodation and meals
There are several options for the accommodation with this ride. There is an on-site guest house at the riding center, and several 3* hotels on Mimizan beach, all of which are available Sunday to Sunday as either B&B or half-board. The rooms are clean and small, all have en-suite bathrooms, flat-screen TV's, free WiFi and balconies or terraces with sea or garden views. Complimentary travel cots are provided for children age 2 and under. There's a garden, a terrace, a TV bar and lounge and bike and surfboard storage. Parking is free for cars. The owners are helpful and friendly with enthusiastic attempts at English. Breakfast is continental with juice, coffee, tea or hot chocolate, fresh bread of various kinds/croissant, butter and jams (often homemade). There are also apartments available in near-by resorts from Saturday to Saturday. This leaves you free to explore and sample the delights of the many restaurants and cafes in the town, be it a fresh seafood dinner, some typical homemade French cuisine or perhaps even a picnic to enjoy on the beach. Please enquire for apartment prices. 

If you have chosen to join a half or full day ride then the equestrian centre will provide either a typical French breakfast (French sausage, pâté, cheese, fruits, Bordeaux red wine, fruit juice tea and coffee) or lunch (French aperitif and appetiser, Bordeaux red wine, soup or salad according to the weather, chicken or meat and vegetables, French cheeses, dessert and coffee or tea).

Transfers:

Sunday transfers on arrival day for 2-8 people from Bordeaux airport (BOD) at 15:00. On departure day transfers will get to Bordeaux at approx. 11am, so please make sure that your flight departs after this time. The minibus from the equestrian centre will pick up riders from various flights, starting at 1pm and they will aim to leave Bordeaux at around 3pm. On the return journey they will transfer in the morning according to the earliest flight departure time of the client. Bordeaux to Mimizan is 70 miles, around 1 hr 30 minutes. If there are more than 8 people for the transfer then they will put on a bigger bus but the price of the transfer will not change.

If there is only 1 person for the transfer then the equestrian centre will still pick up from Bordeaux if it is possible, but if not they will meet you at Morcenx train station instead. In this case, riders are asked to take the shuttlebus from Bordeaux airport to the train station in order to catch the train to Morcenx. Morcenx to Mimizan is 20 miles, around 30 minutes.

It is also possible to get there yourself, either by car-hire or by taking a train and then a bus to Mimizan. Check-in is after 2pm on your first day and check-out is before 11am on your final day.

For those not arriving on a Sunday then it may be possible to book a transfer from Morcenx train station, otherwise you will need to get to Mimizan by car-hire or train/bus.

Reading List
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.

The French - Theodore Zeldin
Bonjour Tristesse - Francoise Sagan
A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence - Peter Mayle
Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes and the Amateur Emigrant - Louis Stevensons

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

There are 25 horses of all types available at the riding centre. The majority of horses are Anglo Arabs with one each of Quarter horse, Lusitano and Standardbred. There are also 12 ponies available for children and smaller riders. The horses range in size from 15.3hh to 16.3hh. The saddles are all English with deep seats and are comfortable and well maintained. The horses are schooled in English style and are very responsive and reliable. The numnahs used on trails have saddle bags in them and in addition cantle bags are available for camera, water bottles etc. Mineral water, hats and chaps are provided. Beginners can have lessons or go on slower rides in the forest or beach, while the riding is faster and allows you to take your own line in the forest and gallop on the beach for more experienced riders. You can purchase a riding card of 6 or 8 sessions of 2 hours riding for the week for those who want to ride. For intermediate and advanced riders it is also possible to exhange sessions for a half-day ride of 4 hours (2 sessions of 2 hours) or a full-day ride (3 sessions of 2 hours). More sessions can be purchased on-site. This way those who want to ride can do so to their heart's content on the beach and in the forests, leaving the rest of the family to enjoy the many other activities available in this area. Usually there's no riding on Sundays.

Rider requirements

Suitable for intermediate riders onwards.

The riding is at all paces and there are many opportunities to trot, canter and gallop for experienced riders.
Riders are encouraged to take their own line wherever possible and can canter ahead and depart for faster riding singly or in small groups spaced about 50-100m apart.

There is a minimum age of 10 years for beginner groups and 13 years for trails.
There is a weight limit of 90kg on this ride.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

There are several options for the accommodation with this ride. There is an on-site guest house at the riding centre (a short drive from the beach), and several 2* hotels close to Mimizan beach (a short drive from the riding centre, transfers arranged for you), all of which are available Sunday to Sunday as either B&B or half-board. The rooms are clean and small, all have en-suite bathrooms, flat-screen TV's, free WiFi and balconies or terraces with sea or garden views. Complimentary travel cots are provided for children age 2 and under. There's a garden, a terrace, a TV bar and lounge and bike and surfboard storage. Parking is free for cars. The owners are helpful and friendly with enthusiastic attempts at English. Breakfast is continental with juice, coffee, tea or hot chocolate, fresh bread of various kinds/croissant, butter and jams (often homemade). There are also apartments available in near-by resorts from Saturday to Saturday. This leaves you free to explore and sample the delights of the many restaurants and cafes in the town, be it a fresh seafood dinner, some typical homemade French cuisine or perhaps even a picnic to enjoy on the beach. Please enquire for apartment prices. 


If you have chosen to join a half or full day ride then the equestrian centre will provide either a typical French breakfast (French sausage, pâté, cheese, fruits, Bordeaux red wine, fruit juice tea and coffee) or lunch (French aperitif and appetiser, Bordeaux red wine, soup or salad according to the weather, chicken or meat and vegetables, French cheeses, dessert and coffee or tea).

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Climate Summary

The best time to visit this region is from March to November. The Landes region and trail almost always have dry days and when rain falls it is usually in the evening, overnight or before 9am in the morning. This is due to the local sea breezes. Riding is in the extensive shady pine forest or along the beach making for a pleasant temperature even in summer. At the height of summer in late July and August the riding is done early in the morning and the hours before sunset.

Health (ride specific)

No special health precautions are required for visits to France, for further details please see your local doctor. We do advise taking plenty of sunscreen!

Film and Camera Equipment

Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium). Electricity to recharge batteries etc is available at the hotel.

Packing List

We have put together a suggested packing list for your trip. This should be used as a guideline as requirements may very according to your programme and preferences.

• Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384.
• Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers (jeans may rub and can also be quite hot)
• Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
• Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
• T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
• Sunhat
• Sunglasses
• Fleece - Although the weather is generally very warm, the evenings can be a bit cooler
• Warm layers - At times the evening temperature drops significantly
• Casual Clothes - for when out of the saddle
• Water Bottle - it's very important to drink a lot of water when it's hot, especially when doing physical activities
• Raincoat - it is always a wise idea to pack a waterproof/ windproof jacket!
• Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take inset repellent and plenty of sun cream
• Camera and Spare Batteries/Charger - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding
• A copy of your passport

Programmes

Available from March to November, Sunday arrivals and departures. Programmes last 8 days / 7 nights but longer/shorter stays can be taken in consultation with Unicorn Trails.

Departure Dates

2017: Sunday arrivals from March to November. Other arrival days are possible, please enquire. Low Season March & November, Mid Season April/May/June/September/October, High Season July & August.

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.

If opting to stay at the on-site guesthouse, single rooms are not usually available, however it is sometimes possible to arrange. Supplements will apply - please enquire.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions679
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions569
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Single supplement129
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Half-board supplement119
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Extra night34
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions745
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions635
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Single supplement129
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Half-board supplement119
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Extra night39
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions859
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions749
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Single supplement189
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Half-board supplement119
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Extra night60
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions749
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions629
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Single supplement139
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Half-board supplement135
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Extra night37
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions819
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions699
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Single supplement139
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Half-board supplement135
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Extra night42
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions945
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions825
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Single supplement209
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Half-board supplement135
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Extra night65
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions895
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions755
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Single supplement169
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Half-board supplement159
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Extra night45
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions979
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions835
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Single supplement169
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Half-board supplement159
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Extra night51
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions1,135
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions989
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Single supplement255
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Half-board supplement159
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Extra night79
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions7,335
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions6,155
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Single supplement1,379
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Half-board supplement1,309
2017 B&B - Low season8d/7n6Extra night365
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions8,025
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions6,845
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Single supplement1,379
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Half-board supplement1,309
2017 B&B - Mid Season8d/7n6Extra night415
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Double pp - 8 sessions9,265
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Double pp - 6 sessions8,085
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Single supplement2,065
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Half-board supplement1,309
2017 B&B - High Season8d/7n6Extra night639
Other Activities

The many other activities available in this area include cycling on miles of cycle paths, tennis, water sports such as surfing, catamarans, kite surfing, surfing, canoeing, swimming, walking on the beach, golf and many others.

Other Information

France is easily accessible from most of the UK and offers a large amount of space and totally different regions to explore. The weather in the south of France is almost always warmer than the UK. It is very rider friendly with miles and miles of open space and off road tracks to explore.

The region of Landes:
« Les Landes » is the second largest department in France (9 250 km²), and has 337,012 inhabitants, a mere 36.4 inhabitants per km². It is home to the Gascogne forest, the largest forest in Europe. The main administrative town of the department is Mont de Marsan. More than 93 % of the land is used for agricultural purposes (244 000 ha) or is forested (632 000 ha). It is also home to 250km of protected dunes and beach fronts of the Atlantic Coastal Reserve.

Other Country Information

The French wrote the book on la vie en rose and gave the world champagne and camembert, de Beauvoir and Debussy, the Tour de France and the Eiffel Tower. It is a country steeped in history. Staggering monasteries and castles dotted all over the country are a reminder of a turbulent and often violent past, especially in the Carcasonne region where the Gnostic Christian organisation the Cathars held fast against a crusade launched in the 11th century by an angry and vengeful Catholic church for over twenty years. Despite their vow of non-violence they had a strong support base, including the Knights Templar, and their name often pops up in the legend of the Holy Grail.

The French character has undoubtedly been influenced by their past, today they are a proud and patriotic people famed for enjoying the finer things in life and displaying a great generosity character in their willingness to share their country with the millions of visitors they receive each year.

Food is very important in French culture, almost puritanical. Families eat dinner together late in the evening and their diet is usually very healthy, packed with home grown fruit and vegetables. You will hardly ever see anyone eating on the street; if you do chances are they're not French!

France is one hour ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram. The international dialling code for France is +33.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Bordeaux Airport or Morcenx train station, France
Transfer:
2017: €45 per person each way from Bordeaux for 2-8 people, payable on site.
Flight Guide:
Return from £50 with BMI (Birmingham or Manchester)or Easyjet (Luton) to Bordeaux
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