Making a splash with your horse!
Cantering along a sandy track in the Landes Forest, France
making our way on sandy track to the beach
Sunset colours on the beach
Lunch time - a 3 course leisurely affair
A final sunset canter on an empty beach
The Landes forest is ideal for riding along sandy tracks
A group of friends enjoy a sedate canter on the beach
Gallop at sunset with a friend
Diving off the horse into a lagoon
Am I cool or what?!
Big waves on the Atlantic Coast
A heart for a wonderful day fulfilling dreams
2 friends galloping on the beach
Gallop through the surf!
The dog also enjoys the beach gallops
Swimming in the sea with a trusty pony

Ride along the Atlantic Coast of France with 250km of protected beaches and one of the largest forests in Europe. There is access to miles of open beaches all year round and cool, sandy paths to gallop along in the forest. This programme is a point to point trek for fit intermediate riders onwards. The accommodation and organisation leave something to be desired, the location and riding is top class and is what people come here for. Be prepared to compromise on other things.

Enjoy fast and exciting riding up to 6 hrs daily covering 40km each day on very fit but beautifully schooled and easy to ride Anglo Arab horses. Accommodation is in basic but comfortable hotels, homestays or gîte and there are three nights of camping on trails in July and August. The food is typically French with multiple courses and plenty of red wine. This is an ideal riding holiday for good riders.

There is live availability on this ride, click the book button to see if there is space left on your preferred date.

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 EV of Watford on 28/07/2017

Ride Summary
Incredible experience
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments Incredible Horseman
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (X) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response Could have done with more information, rides are different in the summer. Also a £90 transfer fee was charged, something we weren't aware of until in the car and thus forced to pay a lot of money on the spot.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response Transfers cost
Photographer cost
In order to bring euros in advance.
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced? 9
Please explain why you scored it as you did Very long days riding on proper horses, you need to be confident at a very fast pace and over difficult terrain. Can't panic or pull on horses mouths.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response Purely for choice of holidays
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments
Unicorn comments Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! The transfer fee is clearly stated on our website and your invoice states that transfers are payable locally.

Day 1
Please plan to arrive in Bordeaux before 17:00 at the latest in order to take the transfer. Arrive at your accommodation. Meet your fellow riders over dinner tonight and discuss the trail ahead! There will be a briefing 19:00 to 20:00 (or at breakfast tomorrow if riders arrive later).

Day 2
Guests are taken to Mimizan at 10:30 to explore the village and try the food at a local restaurant for lunch (not included). At 14:00 you will meet at the riding centre and enjoy a half day ride. This gives you a chance to get to know your mount and make any changes that are necessary. Along the way they'll be a 45 minute rest stop where riders can share their first feelings around a cup of tea, cakes and orange juice. This day enables the riders to get used to our horses and gives us the opportunity to grasp their different levels and expectations, to put them on the horses that suit them best over the following 4 days. For some of the riders, this half-day gives them the chance to get back into the swing of riding. Our short surrounding is very beautiful, and the very wild landscape offers from the top of natural dunes some nice views above the ocean.

Day 3
Today will be a very varied day which will start with a ride along the coast before you head inland to discover the Tielague Marsh, Sintias Lagoon and Bourg le Vieux Lake. In the afternoon you return towards the coast, riding through sand dunes before finishing with a ride along the banks of the River Courlis. 5-6 hours riding.

Day 4
The day starts with a ride across a large sandy plain, after which you ride around two lakes. After lunch you continue south to the idyllic village of Levignacq where you will overnight. 5-7 hours riding.

Day 5
In the morning you explore an area known as the Grande Lande (forest) and ride along the banks of the River Mezos to your picnic spot. After a delicious lunch you will head back in the direction of the Bourgle Vieux lake via the Moulasse marshes. If the weather is good (June-September) you will have the opportunity to swim in the lake with or without your horse, so remember to pack your swim suit! 5-6 hours riding.

Day 6
Another full days riding ahead! Start towards the Etang d'Aureilhan, a large lake. You spend the afternoon riding along the shores before finishing the day with a sunset gallop along the beach. 5-6 hrs riding.

Day 7
Today you enjoy an exciting half day with some gallops on the beach (morning or afternoon, depending on the tide), leaving the rest of the day free to relax, go shopping or enjoy the surf. 4.5 hours riding. Lunch is not included today, leaving you a free choice of restaurants.

If the weather is fine between June and September then riders will have the opportunity to play and swim in the sea with and without their horse. However, riders must be aware of the following: the ride can’t always ride on the beach during the 4-day trail, for instance if it is a very low tide. If the ride can canter on the hard sand, it’s not possible to canter in the seawater because of the tack as the wet sand which gets between the girth and the skin may injure the horse during the day. Therefore the aim of the last day is to offer the opportunity to be on the beach (in the morning or evening) at the best moment according to the tide. The beach is sometimes 200 m wide and often the ride has it to themselves. When this happens there is opportunity to canter or gallop in the seawater without restriction and have great fun.

The other half-day either in the morning or in the evening, according to the tide, gives to the riders the time to relax, to visit the village and to do some shopping, to sunbath on the beach or have a swim in the ocean, before leaving for home.

Day 8
Departure after breakfast. Please plan your departure flight for 11am at the earliest.

The trails in July and August involve 2/3 nights camping instead of hotel accommodation. Tents, mattresses, shelters, tables and chairs are all provided and there will be the possibility to take a hot shower at each campsite. Riders are also welcome to swim in the lakes and rivers during the day and in the evening - for this reason it is a good idea to keep your swimming costume handy in your saddlebag everyday! If the weather is nice there may be the opportunity to swim in the sea with your horse (see Day 7 above).

The trails can confirm for a minimum of 3 people for a small group supplement. As and when more riders book on then this will be refunded to you.

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.

 

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. Mineral water, hats and chaps are provided. This ride is for fit intermediate riders onwards. Fast and exciting riding up to 7 hours daily covering 40km each day. Here you have an opportunity to ride at all paces, take your own line on the beach and through the forest on very fit Anglo Arab horses. 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

Rider requirements

•For the Atlantic Coast Trail riders should be of a fit intermediate level and able to ride at all paces for up to seven hours daily.
•The riding is at all paces and there are many opportunities to trot, canter and gallop.
•Riders are encouraged to take their own line wherever possible and can canter ahead and depart for faster riding singularly or in small groups spaced about 50-100m apart.
•There is a minimum age of 12 years for the trails.
•There is a weight limit of 90kg on this ride.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The accommodation is either in the on-site guest house or at a basic 2 star hotel conveniently located for the town centre and walking distance from the riding centre and the beach. The rooms are small and neat, all with an en suite bathroom. The owners are helpful and friendly with enthusiastic attempts at English. In addition you spend one night in a Gîte and one in a Manor house. Please note that during busy periods rooms may host up to 5 people.


On the itineraries in July and August there are 3 nights of camping accommodation. The camp sites are in lovely natural areas and full shower/bath facilities are available. The weather is pleasant at this time of year and this allows riders to enjoy beautiful natural areas. Hotels are often not available at this time. The camping is in 2 person dome tents with mattresses inside, plus shelters, tables and chairs outside. There is the possibility to take a hot shower every night.


The food on the ride is varied and reflects the rich gastronomic heritage of the region. Breakfast is continental with juice, coffee, tea or hot chocolate, fresh bread of various kinds/croissant, butter and jams (often homemade). Lunch is usually taken comfortably seated around a table, with a vehicle bringing all needed equipment. It starts with an aperitif (vermouth, muscat wine or pinsat), various dips and tortillas and regional sausages. The next course is a salad with meat e.g. tabouleh with chicken, then a cheese selection with salad, followed by dessert and coffee with chocolate/biscuits. Dinner is similar affair to lunch with an aperitif, meat, vegetables, salad, cheeses, dessert and coffee course.

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.

Climate Chart

Film and Camera Equipment

Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium). Electricity to recharge video cameras 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 vary 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. Helmets are available at the stables if you do not have your own
• 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
• Swimwear
• Sunglasses
• Fleece - for cooler weather
• 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 good idea to pack a waterproof/ windproof jacket!
• Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect 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

For trails in July and August you will need to take along your own sleeping bag for the camping.

Programmes

The trails start with a Sunday evening arrival and end with a Sunday departure, programme lasts 8 days / 7 nights / 6 days riding.

Departure Dates

2017 Low Season: 19, 26 Feb; 12, 19 March; 1, 8, 15, 22 Oct; 5 Nov
2017 Mid Season: 26 March; 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 April; 7, 14, 21, 28 May; 4, 18 June; 3, 10, 17, 24 Sept
2017 High Season: 25 June; 2, 9*, 16* July; 13*, 20* Aug
* denotes a camping trail with 2 nights camping.*

Pricing

No single rooms available (on some or all nights). Riders must be prepared to share with someone of the same sex.

Due to the nature of the accommodation, 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 Low season8d/7n6double pp899
2017 Low season8d/7n6single supplement139
2017 Low season8d/7n6non rider359
2017 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders139
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6double pp1,005
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement139
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider385
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders139
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp1,185
2017 High Season8d/7n6single supplement195
2017 High Season8d/7n6non rider479
2017 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders139
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2017 Low season8d/7n6double pp985
2017 Low season8d/7n6single supplement149
2017 Low season8d/7n6non rider395
2017 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders149
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6double pp1,099
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement149
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider419
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders149
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp1,299
2017 High Season8d/7n6single supplement209
2017 High Season8d/7n6non rider525
2017 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders149
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2017 Low season8d/7n6double pp1,185
2017 Low season8d/7n6single supplement179
2017 Low season8d/7n6non rider469
2017 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders179
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6double pp1,319
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement179
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider505
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders179
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp1,559
2017 High Season8d/7n6single supplement255
2017 High Season8d/7n6non rider629
2017 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders179
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2017 Low season8d/7n6double pp9,685
2017 Low season8d/7n6single supplement1,475
2017 Low season8d/7n6non rider3,855
2017 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders1,475
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6double pp10,805
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement1,475
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider4,129
2017 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders1,475
2017 High Season8d/7n6double pp12,775
2017 High Season8d/7n6single supplement2,065
2017 High Season8d/7n6non rider5,165
2017 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders1,475
Other Activities

The many other activities available in this area include cycling on miles of cycle paths, tennis, water sports such as surfing, catamarans, canoes, swimming, walking on the beach and golf. Non riders with a rental car can explore these options.

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, France (BOD) Or you can go to Morcenx train station
Transfer:
2017: From Bordeaux Airport between 15.00 and 17:00, minimum of 2 people for €45 per person each way. Return transfer for flights departing after 11.00. Payable on site. Hire cars are available at the airport.
Flight Guide:
London to Bordeaux Airport return from £60
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