Making a splash with your horse!
A heart for a wonderful day fulfilling dreams
Big waves on the Atlantic Coast
Gallop through the surf!
The dog also enjoys the beach gallops
Sandy Track canter
Galloping on the beach in France
Swimming in the sea with a trusty pony
Diving off the horse into a lagoon
Am I cool or what?!
Sunset colours on the beach
A final sunset canter on an empty beach
Lunchtime
Gallop at sunset with a friend
2 friends galloping on the beach
A group of friends enjoy a sedate canter on the beach
Riding alongside the lagoon
Swimming pool
Bathroom
Room number 3
Room number 2

A horseback 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 and sandy paths to gallop along. This programme is a  point-to-point trek for fit intermediate horseback riders onwards. The accommodation and organisation may leave something to be desired, but the location and riding is top class, and is what people come here for. Be prepared for some compromises

Fast and exciting horseback riding up to 6 hrs daily covering 40km each day on fit,  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 holiday for good horseback riders.

 

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 KF of Burnopfield on 09/06/2023

Ride Summary
Fantastic holiday!!, always have a good time at Michel's , great place, fantastic horses, good food and good guide.
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Michel is fun and a good leader, keeps the ride going at a good pace, i like that you feel likeyou are ruding your horse, not just following the one in front, Michel has a cheeky sense of humour!!
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
All of Michels horses are very well trained, good to ride, as long as you listen to him on how to ride them. It's a different way to ride from the UK but works really well for his horses
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
Maybe give a short briefing with approximate times to be where you need to be ie, time to ready each day for riding and times for meals etc.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
8
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Long hours in the saddle on some days, be prepared some of the horses can really gallop, if you're not used to the speed you might get a shock !!!
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
2nd time at Michel's , lots of riding and fast gallops. We had a great bunch of people to ride with and helped each out . Thanks to everyone for a great time and great company x
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1
Transfer by minibus at 16:00 at Bordeaux airport and 17:00 at Bordeaux railway station. Arrival to Mimizan at around 19:00 for all riders coming with or without the transfer. Dinner is scheduled at 21:00.

Day 2 Mimizan - Bias. 20 km / 3 hours riding
09h00 Breakfast
10h00  Meeting with all riders after breakfast and Briefing Time with the Guide about the week's program
10h30 Riders are dropped to Mimizan Beach to visit the village and do any shopping required before the trail and have lunch in a restaurant of their choice (not included in the price).
13h30 Pick-up time is at 13h30 in front of the Tourism office. Head back to the Guest House.
14h00 Meeting at the stable for a briefing about the horses, the equipment and to discuss the itinerary.
16h00 The ride starts in the arena with a 30 minute session to enable the riders to get used to their horses and discover the French way to ride them. It also gives the opportunity to asses the different levels and expectations of each rider and match the perfect horse for each rider. There is no nose to tail riding during the week, each rider has the opportunity to control their own paces. This way of  hacking out helps to:

  •  avoid the dust made by the riders ahead!
  •  choose the speed and pace each rider wants, from slow to quick trot, and from canter to fast gallop 
  • The horses are used to being independent from the others and will walk when other horses are starting to trot or gallop in front of them.
  • It avoids having horses trotting to catch up all the time when as some horses walk slowly and other faster.

The surroundings are beautiful and the wild landscapes offer sweeping views of the ocean from the dunes.

19h00 Transfer back to the Guest House and its swimming pool by minibus (8 minutes)
19h30 Relax time
21h00 Dinner

Day 3 Bias - Contis - St Julien. 30 km / 5 hours riding
5-hours in the saddle discovering forests as well as the coast landscape with its high sandy dunes (up to 150 meters above sea level). Enjoy the first beach ride either in the morning or in the evening, depending on the tides.

08h00 Breakfast

09h00 Transfer to the horses

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

21h00 Dinner

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

Programme : the landscape and the nature change every day offering different views of “The Landes” and wonderful ground for galloping. During the 2 next days riders spend as much time walking as they do trotting, cantering or galloping. Visit the beautiful village of Landes “ Lévignacq “.

Take an afternoon adventure trip in the wilds along the river. Arrival at “Moulin de Caremonge” where the horses are left in a field beside a lake for the night. Relax in the garden or beside the swimming pool before dinner at the Manor House.

08h00 Breakfast, time to prepare the luggage 

09h00 Transfer to the horses 

13h30 Lunch at Lévignacq and rest time.

16h00 Start the afternoon ride

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

20h30 Dinner.

Day 5 Lesperon  - Mezos - Orvignac. 35 km / 5  hours riding

Today riders explore the surroundings and wonderful ground for galloping. Discovery of the traditional Landes architecture from the 18th century. Various landscapes and riding along the river in n ancient wood after lunch. Dinner at the Equestrian Guest House.

08h00 Breakfast

08h30 Departure to Caremonge, the horses’ field of the night (25 minutes)

10h00 Start of morning ride

13h30 Lunch Time at Mezos. Resting Time.

16h00 Afternoon ride (2 more hours ride)

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

19h30 Relax time at the Guest House

21h00 Dinner

Day 6 Orvignac - 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). Cross the National littoral Forest to 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 beach gallops along with free time to relax. If the weather is fine (June to the end September), riders have the opportunity to swim in the ocean with the 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 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 join the horses

10h00 Start of ride

13h00 Lunch along the river

15h30 Afternoon ride

19h00 Arrival at the Guest House

If the weather is fine between June and September riders will can swim in the sea with and without the horses. However, riders must be aware of the following: it is not always possible to ride on the beach during the 4-day trail, for instance if it is a very low tide. It’s not possible to canter in the seawater because of the wet sand which gets between the girth and the skin and can 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 is often deserted. 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.

New Yoga & Pilates classes are available to help relax after a day of riding (need to book in advance, please enquire)
Massages 30min €30, 45 min €45 in 2023
Sauna

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.

 
 

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 some throroughbred and Standardbred horses. There are also 12 ponies available for children and younger riders, minimum age is 13 for accompanied children.

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 riders have an opportunity to ride at all paces and take their 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 13 years for the trails.
•There is a weight limit of 95kg 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 2 minute walk from the Equestrian Centre and 8 minutes by car from the beach. The guest house has a swimming pool for riders use.

There is one guest house with 4 "chambre d'hotes" by the swiming pool offering single/double/twin and a family suite with 2 bedrooms. There is one wooden cottage dormitory with 2 bathrooms for 6 riders beside the swimming pool. There is one annexe with 3 "chembres d'hotes" for 1 to 4 riders + sauna + massage room. There is one independent house situated at the Equestrian Centre with 3 bedrooms for 1 - 5 riders, 1 bathroom, a large kitchen, living room, a private terrace and enclosed garden.

The rooms are small and neat and each room has an en-suite bathroom. The owners are helpful and friendly.



Please note that during busy periods dormitory rooms may host up to 5 people although it is is possible to book a single room on most dates. 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.

Vegan meals can unfortunately not be accommodated.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

Passport and Visa requirements can change regularly 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 should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france

In the USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/France.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/france

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

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in France and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.


Please take along sun cream and anti-allergy medicine for possible insect bites.

The emergency phone number in France is 112. If you need to contact other emergency services, call 15 (medical), 17 (police) or 18 (fire).

Electricity

In France the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

Mobile, WiFi and charging

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

2024: 11 Feb; 3, 17, 31 Mar; 14, 28 Apr; 19 May; 16 Jun; 7, 21 Jul; 4, 18 Aug; 1, 29 Sept; 13 Oct; 10, 24 Nov.
2024 Low season: February, March April October and November.
2024 Mid season - May, June, September,
2024 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.

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.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024 Low season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,255
2024 Low season8d/7n6single supplement98
2024 Low season8d/7n6non rider half board589
2024 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person139
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,395
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement159
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider half board619
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person139
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room per person80
2024 High Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,489
2024 High Season8d/7n6single supplement195
2024 High Season8d/7n6non rider half board685
2024 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person139
2024 High Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room per person98
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 Low season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,439
2024 Low season8d/7n6single supplement115
2024 Low season8d/7n6non rider half board669
2024 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person159
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,599
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement185
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider half board709
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person159
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room per person91
2024 High Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,705
2024 High Season8d/7n6single supplement225
2024 High Season8d/7n6non rider half board785
2024 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person159
2024 High Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room per person115
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 Low season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,655
2024 Low season8d/7n6single supplement129
2024 Low season8d/7n6non rider half board775
2024 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person185
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,835
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement209
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider half board815
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person185
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room per person105
2024 High Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room1,959
2024 High Season8d/7n6single supplement259
2024 High Season8d/7n6non rider half board899
2024 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person185
2024 High Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room per person129
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 Low season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room16,859
2024 Low season8d/7n6single supplement1,315
2024 Low season8d/7n6non rider half board7,875
2024 Low season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person1,875
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room18,735
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6single supplement2,125
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6non rider half board8,315
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person1,875
2024 Mid Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room per person1,065
2024 High Season8d/7n6pp in shared dorm room19,985
2024 High Season8d/7n6single supplement2,625
2024 High Season8d/7n6non rider half board9,185
2024 High Season8d/7n6small group supplement for 3 riders per person1,875
2024 High Season8d/7n6supplement for double/twin room per person1,315
Recommended Reading

The Road from the Past: Traveling through History in France - Ina Caro



Theodore Zeldin ‘The French’,



Francoise Sagan ‘Bonjour Tristesse’,



Peter Mayle ‘A Year in Provence’ and ‘Toujours Provence’,



Louis Stevensons ‘Travels with a Donkey’ and



For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback, visit www.thelongridersguild.com. An excellent source of equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com  


Other Activities

New Yoga & Pilates classes are available to help relax after a day of riding (book in advance, please enquire)
Massages 30min €30, 45 min €45 & sauna in 2024

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 a passion. 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) at 16:00, Bordeaux train station at 17:00, or Morcenx train station outside of Sundays.
Transfer:
2024: From Bordeaux Airport at 16:00 (2hr drive), minimum of 2 people for €50 per person each way. Return transfer for flights departing after 12:30. Payable on site. From Morcenx train station (30min) for 1 person 40€/ trip and 2 persons and more 20€/trip. Hire cars are available at the airport. (subject to change)
Flight Guide:
London to Bordeaux Airport return from £35 pp
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