Just a short flight away, Carcassonne in the south of France offers an ideal sunny and warm short break. You will be picked up by your hosts from Carcassonne and taken an hour south into the Pyrenean Mountains. This ride is situated in the rugged countryside near the Spanish border. It is a chance to see a beautiful, mountainous area redolent of history and enjoy rural France and the hospitality and food of its inhabitants. You are based on a typical French B&B with comfortable, clean en suite accommodation and excellent typically French meals prepared by your hosts. The riding is suitable for novice to experienced riders and they can ride separately in small groups suited to their abilities. You can choose from one of more than 20 lovely horses ranging from schoolmasters to lively and very well schooled jumpers. Riding can be on half or day rides in the area as per the itinerary.

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 LP of Great Rissington on 03/10/2018

Ride Summary
We had an amazing time! The riding worked out fabulously on the cooler days and we choose to go swimming and visit markets etc as well rather than ride solidly for the 3 days. Having our accommodation in a town meant we also had entertainment laid on in the evenings too - a wonderful food and wine festival popped up outside our hotel Saturday night. The scenery is truly stunning and the horses and our guide made it very special.
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (   ) Excellent     (X) 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     (   ) Excellent     (X) 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     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments
Comments relating to Stefan, he was fabulous. We only saw Nicole occasionally
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
Very well trained and sensible horses, forward going and responsive - lovely
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Some confusion over the thermal baths, you can’t ride to them and then they were shut
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (   ) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
The riding schedule before we left was not clear but luckily it was just us two and Nicole and Stefan completely tailored all the riding to us individually which was brilliant.
What could we do to improve this ride?
Probably clarify the rides a little more as the thermal baths was not one of them
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:
Some rocky narrow paths and very steep in places, definitely not a novice ride
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: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)
Day 1
Thursday - Pick up at Carcassonne on Thursday afternoon and transfer to hotel where you will meet your guide to discuss the riding programme for the next few days begining with a short assessment ride. Settle into your overnight accommodation and enjoy a relaxing apertif with the English speaking owners.

Day 2
Friday - Granes. Ride through woods past the mysterious village of Rennes-le-Château. After a picnic lunch, return to Granes through a green oak forest for dinner and overnight as on the previous night.

Day 3
Saturday - Today we ride for 5 or 6 hours. We cross the east base of the Bogarach Peak and follow the beautiful valley of " de Bezu". We return via the famous thermal baths of Rennes les Baines following a narrow valley.

Day 4

Sunday - This morning we have an early breakfast and visit Rennes le Chateau or the Sunday market in Esperaza before we say goodbye in the afternoon. There are only two single rooms available.


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 20 well schooled horses of all shapes and sizes to choose from. From school masters and cobs to fast Arabs and 2 ponies, there is certain to be a horse to suit you. The riding can be at all paces depending on ability. English tack is utilised and the riding style is English. Spanish saddles are used too. Saddle bags will be provided for you to put your water bottle, camera and immediate necessities in. You are advised to bring your own riding helmets as there may not be any available on site. The terrain is very steep in parts and you will need to lead your horse in some sections.

Rider requirements

Riders of novice level onwards can be accommodated here. The riding programme can be tailored to suit the level of riding of the participants. The minimum age for this ride is 10 years.

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.

Accommodation is in a renovated farmhouse in the village or the local hotel Quillan (depending on availability). This means a comfortable room with private bathroom and hot shower or bath. This also gives a unique opportunity to meet local people, who are invariably delighted to meet you.


The food is features home cooking, French style. This means a continental breakfast with coffee, tea or hot chocolate, French bread (which is slightly harder than we are used to in the UK), butter, jams, orange juice. Picnic lunches are prepared by your hosts for you to take along in your saddle bags on the all day ride. It is recommended you bring a water bottle to take with you. Dinner is a 3 course affair cooked by your hosts. Accommodation may also be a local village if the above is not available

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 climate in the mountains are always changeable so you should come prepared with a raincoat and warmer jacket even in summer time. The temperatures below are for the nearest town on the plains and are cooler in the mountains, although it can be hot during the day in July and August

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).

Packing List

It is recommended that you bring clothes that air-dry quickly.
Riding pants - jeans or breeches
Riding boots or paddock boots
Beach towel
Riding boots (with heel)
Lipbalm with sunscreen
Half chaps (optional)
Insect repellent
Riding gloves
Sunblock
Riding hat with brim
Sunglasses
Hard hat (recommended)
Plastic bags for wet clothing
T-shirts and shorts
Swimsuit
Mobile phone
All terrain sandals
Camera and film
Long sleeved shirts
Binoculars (recommended)
Heavy sweater or sweatshirt
Informal wear for evenings
Lightweight rainwear
Water bottle
Copy of your passport

Programmes

This is a 4 day/3 night programme with 3 days riding available on request throughout the year. A four riding day point to point mini trail can also be arranged on request.

Departure Dates

2018/9: All year round, on request for minimum of 2 riders.

Pricing
Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20184d/3n3double pp539
20184d/3n3single supplement109
20194d/3n3double pp539
20194d/3n3single supplement109
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20184d/3n3double pp585
20184d/3n3single supplement119
20194d/3n3double pp585
20194d/3n3single supplement119
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20184d/3n3double pp679
20184d/3n3single supplement139
20194d/3n3double pp679
20194d/3n3single supplement139
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20184d/3n3double pp6,169
20184d/3n3single supplement1,235
20194d/3n3double pp6,169
20194d/3n3single supplement1,235
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

Walking and with car rental exploring the local towns and villages.

Other Information

While in Carcassonne you might like to stay on in the town before or after the ride - we have the experience of 2 hotels in Carcassonne;

Hotel L'Octroi
A very basic 2* hotel 2 minutes walk from the main gate of the city. The bus from the airport goes right past the hotel so ask the driver to stop for you. The rooms are small and basic, but clean and have everything you need. There is a lovely breakfast area and a comfortable seating area with loads of information on the area.
email: hotel-octroi@ataraxie.fr

La MontMorency
A lovely 2* hotel with views of the walled city. Very pleasant rooms, some with balconies. A lovely terrace area with plenty of seating. An outdoor swimming pool and jaquzzi. A large breakfast area/bar. This hotel is at the foot of the main gate to the city and is one minute walk from where the airport bus stops. Highly recommended.
Website - www.lemontmorency.com

Things to do in Carcassonne. There are lots of things to do in the old city, including a train or horse and cart tour around the outside. Inside are numerous museums as well as the castle itself. There are lots of lovely cafes, bars and restaurants, the nicest being in the main square. A good value and great service restaurant is La Troubadour in the main square where french singers sometimes perform. It has a nice atmosphere in the evening.

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):
Carcassonne Airport (CCF) or town
Transfer:
2018/9: €35 per person payable on-site. Transfer time approximately one hour from the airport, town or train station.
Flight Guide:
London - Carcassonne return from £50 with Ryanair. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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