The South of France's Carcassonne offers the perfect sunny and warm short equestrian break. Horseback riders will be picked up by the hosts from Carcassonne and taken an hour south into the Pyrenean Mountains.
This ride is situated in the rugged countryside near the Spanish border and is the perfect chance to see this beautiful, mountainous area redolent of history and enjoy rural French hospitality and food. Horseback riders are based at a typical French B&B with comfortable, clean, en-suite accommodation and typically French meals prepared by the hosts. The vacation is suitable for novices through to experienced horseback riders, and can ride separately in small groups suited to their abilities. Choose from one of more than 20 lovely horses ranging from schoolmasters to lively and very well schooled jumpers.
Riding can be full or half day rides 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 ET of Shrewsbury on 13/11/2023
Thursday - Pick up at Carcassonne on Thursday afternoon (before 3pm) and transfer to riding centre where riders will meet the guide to discuss daily riding programme that begins with a short assessment ride of 1.5/2 hrs. Transfer to hotel Cartier in Quillan (or similar), for an evening meal, overnight and breakfast in the morning.
Friday - Transfer from the hotel back to the riding centre for a day ride with picnic lunch at the mysterious village of Rennes-le-Château. Transfer to hotel Cartier (or similar) for dinner and overnight as on the previous night.
Saturday - Today is another day ride with picnic lunch. The destination depends on the season and preference of riders in the group. For example, how about visiting the beautiful old village of le Bezu with its church from the 12th century, or in the summer, maybe a stop next to a local river for a refreshing afternoon swim. Transfer to hotel Cartier (or similar) for dinner and overnight as on the previous night.
Sunday - The day starts with an early breakfast and visit the Sunday market in Esperaza before saying goodbye in the afternoon. Depending on individual flight times riders might depart to the airport after breakfast.
There are only two single rooms available. The single suppliment is obligatory for any single person booking
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.
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 every rider. The pace of the ride is dependent of the ability of the riders. English tack is utilised and the riding style is English. Spanish saddles are used too. Saddle bags will be provided for water bottles, cameras and immediate necessities. It is advised that each rider bring their own riding helmet as there may not be any available on site. The terrain is very steep in parts riders will need to lead the horses in some sections.
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.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation is in Hotel Cartier (or similar). The hotel has comfortable, bright and newly renovated rooms, air-conditioning and free wifi. The food features home cooking, French style. This means a continental breakfast with coffee, tea or hot chocolate, French bread, 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 to bring a water bottle with you. Dinner is a 3 course feast cooked by your hosts. Accommodation may also be a local village if the above is not available
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.
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
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
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).
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.
Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium).
It is recommended that you bring clothes that air-dry quickly.
Riding pants - jeans or breeches
Riding boots or paddock boots
Riding boots (with heel)
Lipbalm with sunscreen
Half chaps (optional)
Riding hat with brim
Hard hat (recommended)
Plastic bags for wet clothing
T-shirts and shorts
All terrain sandals
Camera and film
Long sleeved shirts
Heavy sweater or sweatshirt
Informal wear for evenings
Copy of your passport
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.
2024: All year round, on request for minimum of 2 riders.
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Theodore Zeldin ‘The French’,
Francoise Sagan ‘Bonjour Tristesse’,
Louis Stevensons ‘Travels with a Donkey’ and
Walking and with car rental exploring the local towns and villages.
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;
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.
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.
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.