This special trip is ideal for lovers of fine wines with faster than average riding amongst some of the great names of Bordeaux Wines. During the tour you 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.

You will also get to know the Citadel of Blaye, the Medieval City of St Émilion, the feudal Castle of Rauzan and the medieval fortified town of Cadillac.

Overnight accommodations are in comfortable hotels, B&B's and castle.

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 TS of Whitchurch on 13/10/2017

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday
Fantastic trail ride. Well organised and David, Britta and Aurelian (Ollie) were brilliant hosts. The horses were exceptionally well schooled and good mannered. Britta's knowledge of history and the wine industry is exceptional and her multilingual capabilities ensured everybody understood. David's knowledge of the terrain ensured the riding had a great mix of walking, trotting and canters with the occasional gallop. Ollie's support ensured events ran smoothly and his happy, cheerful approach made him a favourite with everyone. To get the most out of this holiday you do need to be riding fit as you'll be in the saddle for 5-7 hours everyday! We loved the experience and will go again.
Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) 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     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) 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     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments David was extremely helpful when the need arose and though his English wasn't fluent (although it's better than he gives himself credit for), Britta was always on hand to help when needed.
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 Exceptionally well schooled and good mannered horses. They are a credit to David and Britta who have schooled many of them from the outset.
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) 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?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
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? 8
Please explain why you scored it as you did Riders need to be riding fit, (two riders who though very competent, suffered owing to the time in the saddle). They should be comfortable at all paces, including short gallops. Some of the trots and canters are quite long and fast. The riding style is classic and ideally not suited to those who can only ride western.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?     (   ) NO     (X) 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?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments
Unicorn comments Thanks for the superb review! I've passed that onto the hosts and look forward to booking you in again!

Please note that on some departures this itinerary is operated in reverse.

Day 1
Arrival and transfer from Bordeaux station at 17:30 or 18.30 from the airport. 

Day 2
Breakfast at 8:00am before going to meet the horses. We will set off around 10.00 through gentle landscape between vineyards and forests. A picnic lunch is enjoyed on the banks of the Gironde before sampling a fine Medoc at the wine museum of Maucaillou. We will cross the Gironde with our horses on a ferry, towards Blaye (crossing time of 40 minutes). Upon arrival we will visit on horseback the citadelle Vauban (18th century) before visiting a wine producer of Blaye at the castle Frédignac. Night at the Porche Hotel or similar.

Day 3
After breakfast we are back on horseback at 10.00. We will ride through the Côtes de Blaye and the Côtes de Bourg, a hilly landscape. Picnic at a wine producers establishment at castle Guyonne where we will enjoy the Côte de Bourg wine. Departure at 15.00 towards Cubnezais, through a more gentle landscape great for a canter or two. The evening will be spent at vineyard Gravette’s. Tasting during the meal. Night onsite.

Day 4
After breakfast we are back on horseback at 09.30. It is a region where vineyards alternate with little forests which will lead us to the castle Mayne Veil, for a picnic and a tasting of Fronsac wine. Towards Libourne, we will pass through the famous region of Pomerol. It is at the castle Belles Graves that we will leave our horses to taste the famous wine Lalande de Pomerol. We will spend the evening at the La Tour hotel in Libourne or similar.

Day 5
Heading towards Saint Emilion we pass through the famous properties of Château Pétrus, Cheval Blanc and Château Figeac. Picnic at the Castle Robin des Moines with tasting of the local wine, followed by a free visit of the city of St Emilion.
In the afternoon we will leave St Emilion to ride through the large valley of Dordogne and arrive in Saint Jean de Blaignac by 19.00. We will spend the night in a Bed and Breakfast.

Day 6
We are now in the region of the l'Entre deux mers, with its varied landscapes, hilly and wooded, and its beautiful wineries. We will stop at the castle of Rauzan (13th century) with a tasting of Entre deux Mers. In the afternoon we will ride through slightly hilly landscapes where wineyards alternate with forests, which will lead us to the castle of Broustaret (Bed and Breakfast). We will have dinner in the city of Cadillac where we will taste the Premières Côtes de Bordeaux. Nocturnal visit of the city.

Day 7
Today we pass through the valley of Garonne to reach the wineyards of Graves and Sauternes. Picnic at the castle of Myrat, the count of Pontac will show us his castle and will propose us a tasting of this gold-couloured wine. In the afternoon gallops between wineyards and forests will lead us to Sauternes.
From the top of the tower of the oenological school La Tour Blanche we will admire the view of the wineyard of Sauternes. During the meal we will taste wine of Graves and spend the night at the hotel.

Day 8
With a new enthusiasm and knowledge of the wines of Bordeaux, you will be transferred to the airport or the train station after breakfast about 9.30, journey time around 1hr 15 mins.

2017: 6 May Sauternes to Médoc; 13 May Médoc to Sauternes. Transfers for those arriving by air/rail remain the same for each starting point. Those arriving by car should confirm meeting point before departing.

Please follow this link for a map of this itinerary: Bordeaux Wine Trail

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 riding on this trail is faster than comparable trails - there is ample trotting and cantering. The terrain varies day by day and includes rolling hills, vineyards, farmland and woods. There are no drop offs or extreme terrain. There are approx 15 Selle Francais and Anglos Arab horses available for riding varying in height from 15.3hh to 17hh. They are calm and experienced and ridden in English tack and English style with a relaxed long rein.

Rider requirements

Riders must be competent at a walk, trot and canter. There is help available with mounting and dismounting if required. There are no age limits, children under 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian.
On some days walking beside horses may be required, usually max 30 mins a day. Experience riding over steep/rough terrain helpful but not required. A reasonable level of fitness is required as you may ride up to 6hrs a day
You can participate as much or as little as you wish with saddling, grooming and otherwise caring for the horses.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 18 st/253 lb/115 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation on this trail is in 2* hotels or Bed & Breakfast, a different location each night of each trail which also varies with the seasons and according to availability. There is usually a private bathroom but you should be prepared to share on some nights. Meals are typically French with local specialities emphasised and are served between 7.30pm and 9.00pm depending on what time the riding finishes.

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

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

Film and Camera Equipment

Shops are few and far between so please bring all your camera equipment with you. Mobile phone reception is available most days, internet access is not usually possible.

Packing List

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

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

Programmes

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

Departure Dates

2017: 6 (FULL), 13 May; 30 Sept; 14 Oct.
2018: 5, 12 May; 6, 20 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 £
20178d/7n6double pp1,455
20178d/7n6single supplement339
20188d/7n6double pp1,589
20188d/7n6single supplement289
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20178d/7n6double pp1,705
20178d/7n6single supplement399
20188d/7n6double pp1,765
20188d/7n6single supplement319
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20178d/7n6double pp2,019
20178d/7n6single supplement475
20188d/7n6double pp2,085
20188d/7n6single supplement379
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20178d/7n6double pp16,905
20178d/7n6single supplement3,955
20188d/7n6double pp17,469
20188d/7n6single supplement3,165
Other Activities

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

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 (BOD) at 18.30 or Bordeaux Saint Jean train station at 17:30.
Transfer:
Included from meeting point at set times. Transfer time is approximately 40 minutes from the airport and 55 minutes from the station.
Departure transfer is at 09.00.
Flight Guide:
London - Bordeaux from £89
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