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 the comfortable on-site guest house and there is one night 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 AF of Huntingdon on 11/10/2019

Ride Summary
Great. Everybody on the ride was a good rider - makes a huge difference!
What was your overall impression of the holiday

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Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
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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?
6
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Riding was often fast, but the horses knew their jobs, were very safe, and the going was generally good.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
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Please give more details to explain your response:
I have been on a number of Unicorn holidays, have enjoyed them all and have found staff helpful.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:
A comment in the description of the ride suggested that accommodation may leave somewhat to be desired. In fact new accommodation was completed 3 years ago, and is fine. Staying in the same accommodation each evening, with us riders being transported and the horses remaining wherever we had ridden to made a nice change - no packing and unpacking every day.
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1

Transfer by minibus organised by the Equestrian Center for our guests. Pick up time at 16h00 at Bordeaux airport and 17h00 at Bordeaux railway station. Arrival to Mimizan at around 19h00, for all riders coming with or without the transfer. Departure for the dinner at the restaurant at 20h30. Dinner at 21h00.

Day 2 Mimizan - Bias. 20 km / 3 hours riding

Programme of the day : briefing about the week and the horse ride – visit of Mimizan Beach shopping –  free lunch in the city - meeting with the horses and First day ride on departure for 6 days trail without coming back to the base with the horses.

09h00 Breakfast

10h00  Meeting with all riders after the breakfast and Briefing Time with the Guide about the week program

10h30 The clients are dropped to Mimizan Beach,  to visit and walk through the village and on the beach, to make some shopping before the trail and take the lunch in the restaurant of their choice (not included in the price).

13h30 Pick up time at 13h30 in front of the Tourism office and way back to the Guest House.

14h00 Meeting at the stable for a briefing about the horses, the equipment and the itinerary.

16h00 The ride starts in the arena during 30 minutes, enables the riders to get used to their horses and discover the French way to ride them. It also gives the opportunity to control the different levels and expectations of each rider, putting them on the horses that suit them best over the 6 following days. Then it’s time  to discover carefully  the different paces, walking and trotting, one by one with hacking out.

We are not riding nose to tail during that week, giving the opportunity to each rider to keep control of his own horse at the different paces.

This way of  hacking out offers to every rider  :

  •  to avoid the dust made by the riders in front !
  •  to  choose the speed of the pace each rider want to have, from slow to quick trot, and from canter to quick gallop !
    Our horses are used to be independent one from the others, and may stay walking when other horses are starting to trot or galloping in front of them ! They stay under the control of the riders, and not under the group of horses.
  • It avoids also to have horses trotting all the time if some walk slow when some are walking quick !  

Our short surroundings are very beautiful and the very wild landscape offers from the top of natural dunes some nice views above the ocean.

19h00 Transfer back to the Guest House and its swimming pool by minibus (8 minutes)

19h30 Relaxing time

20h30 Departure for the dinner.

21h00 Dinner at the restaurant.

Day 3 Bias - Contis - St Julien. 30 km / 5 hours riding

Program of the day : 5 hours to discover original forest -  littoral coast landscape with high sandy dune (up to 150 meters over the sea level) and first beach ride either in the morning or in the evening, according to the tide of the ocean.

08h00 Breakfast

09h00 Transfer to the horse’s field of the night.

10h00 Start of the trail ride

13h30 Lunch time and resting time

16h00 Start of the ride

19h00 Transfer back to the Guest House and its swimming pool by minibus (8 minutes)

19h30 Relaxing time

20h30 Departure for the dinner.

21h00 Dinner at the restaurant.

Day 4 St Julien - Mezos -  Levignacq -  Lesperon. 35 km / 5 hours riding

Programme : the landscape and the nature are changing every day, offering all the various views of “The Landes”. Wild nature and wonderful ground for galloping. During the 2 next days, we'll spend  as much time with walking than with trotting, cantering or galloping. Visit of the most beautiful village of Landes “ Lévignacq “. Afternoon adventure trip in the wild along a clear and fresh river. Arrival at “Moulin de Caremonge”, wonderful and unexpected place, where we’ll leave the horses in their field beside a lake for the night. Relaxing evening  time in the garden or beside the swimming pool , dinner and night  at Manor House.

08h00 Breakfast, time to prepare a small luggage for the next night in the Manor House.

09h00 Transfer to the horses field of the night

10h00 Departure on horse

13h30 Lunch at Lévignacq, Resting Time.

16h00 Departure on horse  

18h30 Short transfer by minibus  (5 minutes) to the Manor of Tireveste

20h30 Dinner.

Day 5 Lesperon  - Uza - Bias. 30 km / 4,5  hours riding

Programme : wild nature and wonderful ground for galloping. Bird reserve crossing and Uza village belonging to mister le Comte de Lur Saluces, owner of the famous Château Ychem Sauternes Vignard . Lunch time at Uza Lake in a typical restaurant and Landes speciality. Various landscapes and ride along river in the original forest during the afternoon. Dinner at the Equestrian Guest House.

08h00 Breakfast

09h00 Departure to Caremonge, the horses’ field of the night (5 minutes)

10h00 Departure on horse

13h30 Lunch Time at Uza,. Resting Time.

16h00 Departure on horse for 2 more hours ride

19h00 Transfer back by minibus (10 minutes) to the Equestrian Guest House and its swimming pool

19h30 Relaxing time at the Guest House

20h30 Departure for the dinner.

21h00 Dinner at the restaurant.

Day 6 Bias - Lespecier - ocean. 19 km / half day ride (4 hours riding)

Programme : half day rest and half day ride in the morning or in the evening depending on the low tide. National littoral Forest crossing and access to the beach – 2 hours on the beach. This half-day trail gives riders the opportunity to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean and have some more exciting gallops along the beach. The other half-day gives riders time to relax beside the swimming pool at the Guest House.

If the weather is fine, from June to the end of September, our riders have the opportunity to play and swim in the ocean with or without their horses.

08h00 or 10h00  Breakfast

20h00 or 21h00  Dinner

Day 7 Mimizan Village - Aureilhan Lake - Mimizan Beach 30 km / 5 hours riding

Programme: Full day ride - Ride in the forest and along Aureilhan lake (protected area) – Ride along the river to Mimizan Beach . Forest and beach ride with the sunset.

According to the tide schedules, this program can be reversed.

08h00 Breakfast.

09h00 Departure to the horses' place

10h00 Departure on horse

13h00 Lunch along the river

15h30 Departure on horse

19h00 Arrival at the Guest House

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. A transfer is organised for our guests from Mimizan to Bordeaux airport or Bordeaux railway station. Departure from the guest house according to the flight or train of the first client.

On the itineraries in July and August is one night of camping accommodation. The camp site is in a lovely natural area. 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. 

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 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The accommodation is in the on-site guest house. The rooms are small and neat, all with an en suite bathroom. The owners are helpful and friendly with enthusiastic attempts at English. Please note that during busy periods rooms may host up to 5 people. The guest house has a small swimming pool for riders use.



On the itineraries in July and August is one night of camping accommodation. The camp site is in a lovely natural area. 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. Riders usually swim in the clear river water (1km from a spring), but showers can be arranged nearby by prior arrangement.



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. In the event that more than 3 people are sharing a room, each person will receive a rebate on arrival.



The food on the ride is quite basic, but plentiful. 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.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:

Visa are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on travel insurance, passport and visas, health and vaccinations, legal issues and emergency issues. They can be reached on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk.

The British Consulate in Paris is at 35 rue de Faubourg St Honore, 75383 Paris Cedex 08. Tel + (33) 1 44 51 31 00. Email: webmaster.paris@fco.gov.uk.

The French Embassy in the U.K can be found at 58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT. Telephone: (020) 7073 1000. Email: presse.londres-amba@diplomatie.fr.


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

Health

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!

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org.

Electricity

Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.

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

This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates throughout the year.

Departure Dates

2020: Feb 16, 23; Mar 1, 15, 22; Apr 5, 12, 19, 26; May 10, 17, 24, 31; Jun 7, 14, 21, 28; Jul 5*, 12*, 26*; Aug 9*, 16*, 30; Sept 6, 13, 20, 27; Oct 4, 11, 18, 25; Nov 1, 8 (* includes 1 night camping)

Pricing

Depending on availability, rooms may be shared by up to 5 guests. If you would like to guarantee a single or double/twin room supplements will apply. Supplements also apply to individual bookings where no other rider is available to share the room.

Low Season: February, March, April, October, November
Mid Season: May, June, September
High Season: July, August

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2020 Low season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,035
2020 Low season8d/7n6single supplement91
2020 Low season8d/7n6non rider half board489
2020 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders129
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,169
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement149
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider half board519
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders129
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room61
2020 High Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,289
2020 High Season8d/7n6single supplement179
2020 High Season8d/7n6non rider half board589
2020 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders129
2020 High Season8d/7n6extra night half board85
2020 High Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room91
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2020 Low season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,199
2020 Low season8d/7n6single supplement105
2020 Low season8d/7n6non rider half board569
2020 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders149
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,359
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement169
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider half board605
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders149
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room70
2020 High Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,499
2020 High Season8d/7n6single supplement209
2020 High Season8d/7n6non rider half board689
2020 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders149
2020 High Season8d/7n6extra night half board98
2020 High Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room105
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2020 Low season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,389
2020 Low season8d/7n6single supplement125
2020 Low season8d/7n6non rider half board659
2020 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders175
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,575
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement199
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider half board699
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders175
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room82
2020 High Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,739
2020 High Season8d/7n6single supplement245
2020 High Season8d/7n6non rider half board795
2020 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders175
2020 High Season8d/7n6extra night half board115
2020 High Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room125
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2020 Low season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room12,865
2020 Low season8d/7n6single supplement1,129
2020 Low season8d/7n6non rider half board6,085
2020 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders1,609
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room14,579
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement1,825
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider half board6,459
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders1,609
2020 Mid Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room749
2020 High Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room16,085
2020 High Season8d/7n6single supplement2,255
2020 High Season8d/7n6non rider half board7,359
2020 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders1,609
2020 High Season8d/7n6extra night half board1,055
2020 High Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room1,129
Recommended Reading

Theodore Zeldin ‘The French’,
Francoise Sagan ‘Bonjour Tristesse’,
Peter Mayle ‘A Year in Provence’ and ‘Toujours Provence’,
Louis Stevensons ‘Travels with a Donkey’ and
Henry James ‘A Little Town In France’.
For an excellent selection of equestrian travel and adventure books visit www.horsetravelbooks.com (part of the Long Rider’s Guild).

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:
2020: From Bordeaux Airport at 16:00, minimum of 2 people for €45 per person each way. Return transfer for flights departing after 12:30. Payable on site. Hire cars are available at the airport.
Flight Guide:
London to Bordeaux Airport return from £60
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