Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France
Riding holiday in France

This equestrian vacation is ideal for lovers of fine wines, with faster than average horseback riding among some of the great names of Bordeaux Wines. During the tour guests have the opportunity to taste white, red and rosé wines: Médoc, Côte de Blaye, Côte de Bourg, Bordeaux Supérieur, Lalande-Pomerol, St Emilion, Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves and the famous sweet and strong white Sauternes. Visit the Citadel of Blaye, the Medieval City of St Émilion, the feudal Castle of Rauzan and the medieval fortified town of Cadillac. Overnight accommodation is in comfortable hotels and B&B's.

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 AA of Chilton on 01/06/2018

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Fit forward thinking horses, friendly guides, great food, lovely going through the vineyards.
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Britta and David make a great team
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Comfy saddles were a bonus!
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
We met all but two of our fellow riders waiting for the transfer which was a good chance to get to know each other. Ollie was in charge of ‘logistics ‘ - basically everything from food for us to fencing for the horses and he was excellent! We had one poor nights accommodation and meal in Cadillac when we couldn’t stay at the amazing guest house where the horses were turned out. I don’t think this was a usual hotel for the trail.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Take some soft long riding socks in case your half chaps chafe! Also, we did take insect repellent but still got some good bites so I would definitely recommend packing plenty of antihistamine!
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?
7
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
The guides can tailor the speed of the ride to the group but it’s a long day in the saddle,especially some days, and we did get some good fast canters in!
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
This was our 4th holiday booked through Unicorn Trials and the second we have done with friends
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
We had a real sense of achievement as we rode 195km over the 6 days - and learnt quite a bit about wine along the way!
Unicorn comments: Superb review - many thanks!

The following is based on the Moulid en Médoc to Sauterne route. Please note that on some departures this itinerary is operated in reverse. 

Day 1

Arrival and transfer from Bordeaux airport at 18.30 to accommodation in Moulis en Médoc.

Day 2
Enjoy breakfast at 8:00am before going to meet the horses. Set off around 10.00 through gentle landscape between vineyards and forests. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the Gironde before sampling a fine Medoc. Cross the Gironde with the horses on a ferry to Blaye (crossing time of 40 minutes) to visit the citadelle Vauban (18th century). Night at the Porche Hotel or similar.

Day 3
Departure from the hotel at 9:00am to start the ride at at 10.00am. The route leads through the Côtes de Blaye and the Côtes de Bourg, a hilly landscape. Picnic at a wine producers’ establishment at Castle Lamothe and tasting of the Côte de Bourg. Departure at 15.00 towards Cubnezais, through a more gentle landscape without vineyards. The evening will be spent at vineyard Gravette’s. Tasting during the meal. Night on site.

Day 4
Today's ride starts at 09.30am in a region where vineyards alternate with little forests which lead to the castle Mayne Veil, to enjoy a picnic and a tasting of Fronsac wine. Ride in the direction of Libourne and cross the famous region of Pomerol at the end of the day. Leave the horses in the town of Pomerol. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 5
Head toward Saint Emilion, passing through the famous properties of Château Pétrus, Cheval Blanc and Château Figeac. Picnic in St Emilion with tasting of the local wine, followed by a visit of the city. Leave Saint EmilionIn in the afternoon to cross the wide valley of the Dordogne and arrive at Château de Courros (Bordeaux Supérieur) for a tasting. Night in guesthouse.

Day 6
Breakfast at 8:00am, departure on horseback by 9:30am. This is the region of the l'Entre deux mers, with its varied landscapes, hilly and wooded, and its beautiful wineries. Pass the castle of Rauzan (13th century). In the afternoon, ride through slightly hilly landscapes where vineyards alternate with forests, which lead to the castle of Broustaret (Bed and Breakfast).  Dinner in the city of Cadillac and the chance to taste the Premières Côtes de Bordeaux. Night-time visit of the city.

Day 7
Breakfast at 8:00am, departure on horseback at 9:30am. Today the ride is very hilly until Cadillac, where the route winds through the valley of Garonne to reach the vineyards of Graves and Sauternes. Picnic at the castle of Myrat and a guided tour on which riders will also be offered a taste of this gold-coloured wine. In the afternoon gallops between vineyards and forests will lead  to Sauternes. Dinner a tasting of the wine from Graves.

Day 8
With a new enthusiasm and knowledge of the wines of Bordeaux, riders will be transferred to the airport after breakfast (about 9.30am), journey time around 1:15hr  After breakfast, depending on train and flight schedules, transfer to Bordeaux airport.

Please note exact hotels are subject to availability.

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.

Périgord – any books on the history of Aquitaine
Bordeaux Wines & Loire Castles - any books on these subjects

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

The horses used on this trip are pure or cross-bred Paint, Arabian or Thoroughbreds and warmbloods varying in height from 15.5hh to 17hh. Most of them were born at the local farm. The horses are calm, experienced, well-behaved and suitable for all types of rider. Comfortable trail riding saddles, saddlebags, poncho, and water are provided but riders are asked to being water bottles with them. Horses are ridden in “Myler” bits. Helmets are mandatory and are not provided.. The pace on this trail varies according to the terrain. there are long periods of walking, but plenty of opportunities to canter and gallop; often faster than comparable trails. The terrain varies day by day and includes rolling hills, vineyards, farmland and woods. There are no drop-offs or extreme terrain.


Rider requirements

Riders must be competent at a walk, trot, canter and gallop over varied terrain and in open spaces over long distances. Riders must be able to mount a horse using a horse block. There are no age limits, children under 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Riders should be in good physical condition, have soft hands and be confident riders. On some days walking beside horses may be required, usually max 30 mins a day. The horses will be prepared by the support team each day.
Please note that if the ride leader determines that a rider does not have the required level, OR if the rider/group ask to stop the ride of their own decision, there is a 300 euro fee for the transportation of each horse.
Riders must please confirm their weight, height and riding level prior to arrival in respect to the health of the horses.

Weight Limit

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

Accommodation on this trail is in small hotels or B&Bs in a different location each night of each trail (these vary with the seasons and according to availability). There is sometimes a private bathroom but you should be prepared to share bathrooms on this trail.



Continental breakfasts are served at the accommodation each morning.

Lunches are buffets with a wide choice (adaptable to particular diets) with wine, coffee and water.

Dinner will be typical French fare served at the hotels (wine and other extras not included).

The support van follows the trail to prepare lunch and dinner in time for the groups arrival. An assistant prepares the lunch buffet and ready to help with any special dietary requirements.



The luggage is transported in the vehicle and transferred to each accommodation.


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

France, including Bordeaux, is at its best in spring, though winter-like relapses are not unknown. Autumn is pleasant but the days are fairly short. Bordeaux's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean ensures a fairly mild climate.
Average annual temperature : 12.3°C: Average in winter: 5 - 7°C, Average in summer: 19 - 21°C.

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

Shops are few and far between so please bring all your camera equipment with you. Mobile phone reception is available most days, Wifi is often available at your evening accommodation but this is not guaranteed.

Packing List

Riders should have only one suitcase (size 69x47x27) and one handbag. We also ask that for environmental reasons that riders bring their own water bottles. This avoids unnecessary plastic use. Drinking water will be provided.

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. We do not supply plastic water bottles so please ensure you bring your own reusable bottle, we will of course provide water.
• 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
• Baggage: Riders should only bring one suitcase (size 69cm x 47cm x 27cm) and one handbag.

Programmes

This is an 8 day / 7 night programme with riding on 6 days.

Departure Dates

2023: 29 (FULL) Apr; 20 (FULL) May; 23 (FULL) Sept; 1, 14 (FULL), 22 (FULL) Oct.
2024: 11 (Full), 19 (Full) May; 28 Sept; 6, 19, 27 (Full) Oct

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 a sharer can be found after the single supplement is paid this will be refunded.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20238d/7n6double pp1,849
20238d/7n6single supplement359
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20238d/7n6double pp2,149
20238d/7n6single supplement405
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20238d/7n6double pp2,335
20238d/7n6single supplement455
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20238d/7n6double pp25,895
20238d/7n6single supplement4,695
Recommended Reading

Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France by Kermit Lynch

Written by one of the first major importers of great French wine into the States, the book recounts grand feasts, cold cellar tastings, and navigating the world of wine merchants. Even if you’re clueless about which wines are from where, this is a fun read, about a hippie-turned–wine importer from Berkeley, California, and an engaging memoir.



The Finest Wines of Bordeaux: A Regional Guide to the Best Châteaux and Their Wines by James Lawther

A highly approachable, beautifully illustrated guide, which draws on the author's insider knowledge to open up Bordeaux. He has identified 90 producers from both the Left and Right banks with the finest wines and the most interesting stories to tell and takes us inside their chateaux, offering intimate portraits of both the properties and the people who shape this fascinating region.


Other Activities

The trails are suitable for non riding companions as they can hire their own transport if they wish.

Other Information

It is customary to tup in France, but is always at your discretion
Please note that if the rider/group ask to stop the ride of their own decision, there is a 300 euro fee for the transportation of the horse/s.
Should the guide judge that a rider does not have the level or skills to do the trek on horseback, they can decide to stop it without refund.

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 (BOD) at 18.30
Transfer:
2023: From Bordeaux Airport, €20pp return. Arrival transfer is at 6.30pm, departure airport drop off 11am.
Flight Guide:
London - Bordeaux from £35 pp return
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