Crossing the French alps
Riding through the mountains
Grazing in the alps

Take part in the ancient tradition of transhumance by joining this 5-day trail through the French and Italian alps, moving horses to and from their summer grazing. Riding through one of Frances' last wildernesses; the Alpes-Maritimes region, riders explore the mountains on horseback, traveling into deep valleys that remain covered by ancient terraces of vine and olive plantations, before giving way to pine forests on the higher slopes. Peaks rise majestically up to more than 3000m - although the region is only an hour away from the French Riviera, the Alpes-Maritimes offers exceptional biodiversity.

Riding from the sea up into the southern Alps, the trail also passes through the lush Italian pastures of the Riviera dei fiori (Riviera of flowers), famous for its azure waters and medieval towns. Riders can enjoy the remarkable landscapes of this unspoilt section of the Italian Riviera before reaching the steep pastures of the snow-capped alps. Suitable for fit, intermediate riders onwards who like long riding days and want to experience the nature of this region at its very best. Accommodation in traditional guesthouses along the way.

There are no reviews for this holiday at the moment

Day 1: (7.5h riding) 
Meet at 9 a.m. in Sainte-Agnès. From Sainte Agnès, the herd heads towards the path on the ridges,with amazing views of the maquis, the inhabited French Riviera and the sea. The flora of the maquis starts to give way to hardwoods which allows views of the Alps above. Today riders are not yet on mountain trails and the pace includes some nice canters. En-route, riders stop for a picnic lunch in a field shaded by majestic trees before heading on towards Sospel.Overnight at Ecoovillagio Terri (or similar)

Day 2: (7.5hr riding) 
Today's route stays among the hardwoods with a picnic lunch and evening stopover at La Chapelle Saint Gervais in Sospel. (or similar). Tonight it is possible to enjoy at massage (on request, not included).

Day 3: (8h riding) 
Today is a day of climbing as the route follows a path with a steep drop-off which offers riders a magnificent view while 'suspended' between sea and mountains.The biotope changes within a few hours as the ride moves through  breathtaking landscapes. Picnic en-route. before reaching Camp d'Argent (or similar). 

Day 4: (6.5h riding)
The ride sets off along steep mountain paths in the Mercantour National Park. Pass the barracks of the WWII Army of the Alps that was situated on this strategic passage of the Alps. The mountains fall steeply and the ravines are deep. After a picnic, the trail continues to more even terrain. Arrive in the red lands of the Gordolasque valley and overnight at the Hotel du Grand Capelet (or similar)

Day 5: (7.5h 30 riding)
The last day on the trail. Le Boréon is not very far. and riders have 2 steep ascents followed by descents on foot leading the horses. Pass the lakes of Pral and stop for a final picnic lunch in the mountains. Arrive at the plateau of Maïris, a perfect example of these enchanting mountain pastures. The transhumance is coming to an end and the horses have three summer months in the mountains before returning to spend the winter by the sea. Drive to the equestrian center arriving at around 6 p.m. then transfer to Nice or Sainte-Agnès.

Please note that the itinerary is given only as an example, the final itinerary varies for each departure according to routes and paths best suited for the group and will be communicated to you at the time of departure.

Transfer package
There is an option to add on a round trip transfer from Nice train station or airport with 2 additional nights accommodation on a half board basis (1 night before departure, 1 night on arrival). Please request this on booking.


Riders must carry everything they need in the provided saddlebags. There is no baggage transfer on this trail although they can leave suitcases etc at the base.

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 focus here has always been to allow the horses to live the most natural life possible. They are raised in open pasture and mature in the wild with their companions. They are not stabled, nor fenced into small paddocks, but instead, graze and wander free.

The horses are a mix of breeds, temperaments and ages, including Merens, Spanish, Portuguese, Arab and Pottoks. There are natural leaders among the group of course and the young horses learn from the behaviour of the more experienced horses. The horses are trained and ridden with simple hackamore bitless bridles. Most saddles are Portuguese military types, there are also some English saddles.The ride is conducted in the natural way, allowing the horses to follow their own path and pace and with the pack horses loose amongst the ride.

As this is a point-to-point trail, the horses will be carrying all belongings. Riders are provided with a 'banana'  saddle pack (located at the back of the saddle) of about 18 litres for personal belongings (toiletries, change of clothes for the night, etc.). Please bring a 'Sheet bag' (a kind of single duvet cover -   and not sleeping bags because they won't fit in the 'banana bag', a towel will be useful. You can put your daytime clothes (sunscreen, telephone, etc.) in the horses' saddlebags. Riding hats and half chaps are also available to borrow.

There is between 5 and 8 hours per day of riding/walking. The rides are in rolling country and high alpine terrain. On steep ground, riders will need to dismount and lead their horses, so walking boots are essential as they are more practical than flat soled riding boots. Half chaps and riding hats are provided. A decent weight of jeans or jodhpur is recommended. Riders should bring a waterproof coat, as the weather can change very quickly in the mountains. All of the guides are well qualified, speak French, English, Italian and sometimes Spanish and Portuguese. Safety briefings will be given where appropriate.

Rider requirements

Riders should be confident at walk, trot and canter over open terrain. A good level of fitness is required, as the rides are full days with 7/8 hours either riding or leading your mount, and with significant ascents/descents (around 2 hours/day walking during descents only). Riders must be able to mount and dismount unaided.

Help to catch, groom and saddle are welcome but not compulsory.

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 is in comfortable hotels, guesthouses and agriturismos. Private rooms can be booked for a supplement when this is available. Guests should be prepared to share rooms and bathroom facilities on this ride.

Generous picnics and meals use local and/or organic products. Special dietary needs can also be catered for.

Please note that accommodation is not included the night before and after the ride. This can be booked separately along with transfer from Nice airport or train station, your travel consultant will be able to help you with this.

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.

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:

In the USA:

In Canada:

Climate Summary

Due to the different altitudes and landscapes covered on this ride the climate can vary quite a lot. Temperatures will be cooler in the mountains and there will be a higher chance of rainfall.
The chart below is based on climate data for Sainte-Agnes. During the months June and September/October the weather is pleasant with a nice average temperature.
Most rainfall (rainy season / monsoon) is seen in October and November.

Climate Chart


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.

Film and Camera Equipment

Electricity is available at evening accommodation. Mobile phone reception is limited.

Packing List

As this is a point to point trail, your horses will be carrying your belongings. You will be provided with a 'banana'  saddle pack (located at the back of the saddle) of about 18 litres where all your personal belongings have to fit (toiletries, change of clothes for the night, etc.). Please bring a 'Sheet bag' (a kind of single duvet cover - and not sleeping bags because they won't fit in the 'banana bag', a towel will be useful. You can put your daytime clothes (sunscreen, telephone, etc.) in the horses' saddlebags. Riding hats and half chaps are also available to borrow.

Good quality walking boots with a deep heel - due to the terrain and the need to walk leading the horse at times it is recommended you choose walking boots over riding boots. There is a range of boots available to borrow on site.
Riding helmet - there are a range of sizes available to borrow on site
Jodhpurs, comfortable jeans or thick cloth trousers.
Waterproof clothing - jacket and trousers or slicker
Long-sleeved shirts
Warm jumper/fleece
Sports bra for women
Comfortable clothes for the evenings
Comfortable shoes for the evenings
Swimsuit - a swimming cap is also obligatory for the thermal baths if you visit them. The ride can provide one for you if desired.
Warm night clothes
Sun cream
Insect repellent
Camera and spare batteries/charger
A knife is not mandatory but useful to cut the bread and cheese during picnics.
A sheet bag (
Earplugs are useful for people who need silence to sleep as some nights we might have to share rooms


This is a 4 night programme with 5 days riding on set dates. An additional night before and after along with transfers from Nice can be booked.

Departure Dates

2023: 18-22 June, 17-21 September

No single rooms available (on some or all nights). Riders must be prepared to share with someone of the same sex.

For those nights when a single room is available, a supplement will apply, please enquire at the time of booking.

No of   
Riding days Product item description £
20235d/4n4double pp1,079
No of   
Riding days Product item description
20235d/4n4double pp1,199
No of   
Riding days Product item description US $
20235d/4n4double pp1,349
No of   
Riding days Product item description SEK
20235d/4n4double pp13,749
Additional Night Pricing
  No of days/nights Product item description £
Transfer package from Nice 1 night before and 1 night afterper nightdouble pp179
  No of days/nights Product item description
Transfer package from Nice 1 night before and 1 night afterper nightdouble pp199
  No of days/nights Product item description US $
Transfer package from Nice 1 night before and 1 night afterper nightdouble pp219
  No of days/nights Product item description SEK
Transfer package from Nice 1 night before and 1 night afterper nightdouble pp2,295
Recommended Reading

Novels - Etoile Errante, JM LE Clezio Press : - - -


There are several species of mountainous goat and antelope including chamois, ibex and mouflon as well as red deer and roe deer that can be spotted in the undergrowth lower down. Marmots, ermine, hares and wild boars, partridges, golden eagles and buzzards, numerous species of butterflies and even Italian wolves can also be found within the Mercantour National Park

Other Information

This ride is not suitable for non-riding companions.

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):
Sainte-Agnes or Nice train station or airport
2023: Included from Nice Airport or train station. Group transfer pick up is at 4pm the day before the start and drop off on the day after the trail finishes by noon. Private transfer is available for €250 each way. Car hire is also an option.
Flight Guide:
London to Nice (NCE) from £60 pp return
Riders who booked this ride also considered
Taking a rest
Chile, Chile to Argentina - Across the Andes

The ultimate challenge - cross the High Andes along the r...Read more >

from US $3,489
Riding through the mountains
France, Crossing the Mercantour

A point to point trail along the 'Via Alpine' thr...Read more >

from US $1,575
Bhutan Himalayan Monastery Trail
Bhutan, Himalayan Monastery Trail

A cultural adventure in the Himalayan mountains visiting ...Read more >

from US $5,359